7 unique boat trips to really live like a local

13 August 2015

There's something romantic about boat journeys. Moving towards your future on the water, breeze in your hair, sun setting behind you. Think of Leo and Kate, arms out on the front of the Titanic. Although, sinking ship and all that. Not ideal. But the vibe was there. Just for a short time.

Actually, boats get a bad rap in movies. Perfect Storm. Dead Calm. Jaws. Life of Pi. Poseidon Adventure. The Love Boat. All disastrous.

But no, we're thinking more along the lines of Ten Canoes. Little boats, a couple of people, local waterways, local stories.

Boat journeys are a very important part of many cultures, for transporting, trading and visiting. Local ingenuity plays a part – the local materials and the water condition plays a huge role in the design of the sailing vessel.

These seven local boats are all little – the small boats that the locals have traditionally used to do their daily local gadding about. And lucky for us, they're willing to share. We can hitch a lift on these seven local boats to get a glimpse into local traditional life.

Mokoro on the Okavango Delta, Botswana

The Okavango Delta is one of the world's great wetlands. Tiny rivers weave their way across the grassy plains, joining together and breaking apart, flooding in the wet and shrinking in the dry. The area is a birdlife wonderland and hippos, crocs and lechwe antelopes are at home here.

A mokoro is a traditional canoe carved out of a large tree trunk that the locals use to get around the delta. The boat driver stands in the back of the canoe and pushes it through the water with a long stick. Sitting  right down at water level the world looks quite different. Sometimes you're in a narrow waterway with  riverside grasses towering overhead and sometimes there's water lillies and grasses stretching as far as you can see. The landscape is broad and beautiful and you're just a small part of it.


Felucca on the Nile, Egypt

A felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat used in the Mediterranean and along the Nile. Stepping onto a felucca and pushing off into the Nile, you'll immediately feel a sense of calm sweep over you. Away from the hustle of city you can take in the peace and serenity of the river. Most of Egypt's development is along the fertile Nile Valley, so there's always plenty to watch on shore. If you're keen, you can opt to spend the night sleeping on deck under the stars. A true water bed.



Lake Titicaca reed boat, Peru and Bolivia

There's something pretty ingenious about people. Somehow, we manage to carve out a lifestyle wherever we come from. Living at Lake Titicaca, the Uros people have used the one thing they have plenty of  – totora reeds – to construct floating islands which they live on. Their houses on the islands are also built of the reeds, as are their boats and rafts which are used for transport for trading and food gathering. The boats are beautifully designed and constructed, with curved bows of golden reeds. The Uros people also eat the reeds, use them for medicinal purposes and trade with them. That is a very handy reed.



Dhow off the coast of Zanzibar, Tanzania

Dhows are traditional sail boats that are used right down the east coast of Africa and in the Persian Gulf. On the Spice Island of Zanzibar, you can take a sunset boat trip on the calm waters and look back at this island paradise. Or you can haggle with a dhow owner to use a dhow as a taxi to take you to other parts of the island. The best taxi you'll ever get in.

A dhow is the perfect sunset photo boat – a broad wooden hull with a full triangular sail setting off from the beach across calm waters, towards the setting sun. No filter required. Splendid.



Ganges boat trip, India

On this boat trip, the boat itself isn't so interesting – it's just a regular river row boat. But it's what you see of local life that brings this little boat trip tour of India into this list. The banks of the Ganges are home to all kinds of activity – the ghats leading down to the water host spiritual rituals and cremations as well as clothes washing and bathing. There's colour, clamour and plenty of life.

On a pre-dawn boat ride you'll watch the sun come up as life by the river awakens. The pale morning light washes over the people who have flocked to the waterfront to perform their morning rituals and greet the holy mother Ganges. It's peaceful out on the water as the clamour picks up on shore.



Gondola on the canals of Venice, Italy

It might be so well known it's almost a cliché but that doesn't make it not amazing. Venice is one of the world's oddest, most beautiful cities and seeing it from the canals, passing under the decorative arched bridges while you sit in a gondola, is travel magic.

A gondola is a traditional Venetian flat bottomed boat propelled by a gondolier, who rows and steers with an oar. There used to be over 8000 gondolas in the canals of Venice, as they were used as a primary means of transport around the city. Today there are just 400 left. Get in one before they become extinct.


Local boat on the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

In the Mekong Delta, everyone and everything is on the water – there are river restaurants, house boats with families eating breakfast on the deck, and children playing on jetties jutting out over the river.

Cruise the Mekong Delta and Hop on board the local-style flat river boats. The boat drivers steer, row and push their way along the waterways, which are sometimes broad expanses and sometimes narrow tributaries with the lush jungle almost forming a tunnel across them. On a journey down the Mekong, a visit to a floating market is essential – get amongst the locals and buy yourself some jackfruit, rambutans, durians and coconuts. Actually, don't worry about the durians. They're kind of stinky.


If you fancy a local style boat trip, talk to us at My Adventure Travel – we've got every adventure you can imagine and then some. Our Adventure Experts will help you choose the adventure travel brand and trip that's right for you.