A weekend houseboat cruise on the Kowie River
After we have settled into our new home, we were looking forward to a weekend away. We have read great reviews on Port Alfred, a small town at the mouth of the Kowie River and situated approximately 132km (82 miles) from East London.
While we were looking for accommodation for the weekend, we saw some really nice holiday homes, but then … the opportunity of renting a houseboat came up. Feedback on availability on a houseboat quickly came back from Onika at Houseboats Port Alfred … and we were ready for our next adventure!
No skippers’ license?
The company, Houseboats Port Alfred offers one the opportunity of a self-drive houseboat. Berto does not have a skippers’ license, but that was no problem, since Houseboats Port Alfred offers an Interim Certificate of Competence. The course takes 45 minutes and once you’ve proved yourself in an oral and practical assessment, the certificate is valid for 6 months (though, only for houseboats on the Kowie River).
Fortunately, Berto have some previous boating experience and after Johan from Houseboats Port Alfred done the assessment, we received a valid certificate to take the houseboat on the river!
The houseboat is fully equipped with whatever one might need on a weekend on the river. A comfortable bed with soft linen, a shower, a loo, a nice kitchen area with a stove/fridge (and a luxury touch in the form of a coffee/tea station) and then the bonus … a braai!
Since we arrived late on Friday afternoon, we decided to overnight in the harbour of Port Alfred before taking the houseboat on the river the next day. We saw a restaurant on the other side of the harbour, namely Tash’s Restaurant & Craft Bar and headed straight over there for a relaxing dinner.
Tash’s Restaurant & Craft Bar:
Now, it’s true that their food is really delicious – Berto had stuffed cream cheese jalapeno poppers, which was very tasty and my crumbed mushrooms were done to perfection … but oh my, their cocktails are out of this world!
We both enjoyed our main meals while sipping a glass of white wine. We don’t dine out often, but when we do, it’s great to get to a place like Tash’s Restaurant where the food is delicious and the service warm and friendly.
After we enjoyed a delicious dinner, we headed back to our houseboat where we quickly fell asleep with the soft sway of the boat on the water.
Saturday – River cruise day:
Well, we couldn’t ask for better weather conditions! It was an absolutely beautiful day – no wind and a maximum temperature of 26 degrees Celsius (and remember, we are in winter)!
We made a nice cup of coffee and tea and then took out a box of the famous South African “Ouma” rusks … we would make a proper breakfast on the river later.
There surely are not many things better than to relax on a houseboat while cruising down a river! The scenery is breathtaking beautiful – at first, we cruised under the well-known bridge of Port Alfred, then past lovely houses on the river’s edge and then unspoiled nature was in front of us … it was stunning.
We soon found a lovely spot where we have anchored the houseboat to make breakfast.
Berto prepared a tasty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and fried tomatoes, while I’ve added some juice and yogurt as healthy options.
While I was doing the dishes, Berto called me out to see something really spectacular … a couple of giraffes were wandering around across from our houseboat! The Mansfield Private Game Reserve is situated along the Kowie River and we were hoping to see some wild animals from the river – it was such a wonderful moment.
There were a lot of activity on the river. It was such a beautiful morning that many water enthusiasts could not resist the temptation of getting into their boats, kayaks or rowing boats.
After enjoying breakfast and the excitement of seeing giraffes, we decided to cruise further down the river. Our plan was to cruise as far as we were allowed to and then make lunch (which mean, getting the braai out)!
We saw so many birds along the river – some were just walking around in the shallow water, while others were swimming and diving for fish. There were also a couple of fishermen on the banks of the river – they waved friendly when we past them.
There is a jetty at the Mansfield Private Game Reserve where houseboats are allowed to stop for a braai, swim in the pool or to join a game drive. There is also a restaurant, but this is only open during the peak summer time. But for us, today was all about tranquility on the river.
Eventually we got to the furthest point of where houseboats were allowed to go (about 11km up the Kowie River). This was the perfect stop for lunch and to just relax in nature. It was just the two of us, with only one boat that cruised past us during the three hours we were there … pure bliss!
Actually, we had some company … in the form of cows, more birds and a couple of beautiful fish eagles. That didn’t bother us at all!
It was time to make a fire and have a braai. Since we are on a boat, we are only allowed to make a fire with charcoal for safety reasons. We decided to make hotdogs with proper “boerewors” (unique South African sausage).
We had such an amazing day on the river – there was really nothing to complain about! We were in such a state of serenity … life is simply great!
In our next post, we will tell you all about our overnight spot on the river … and another magical moment!