Captain of your own River Boat in the Netherlands

Have you ever dreamed about being a captain of your own river boat?

The idea of renting a boat on a river in The Netherlands probably never came to your mind as “Yes, I need to do this”. 

But then, on the other hand, you probably did think about renting a van to tour around in Scandinavia or the US?

I could be wrong, but what if I told you that you can rent a boat in The Netherlands for multiple days on a river and you can freely roam those river waters and visit any place in the area that you want.

This is slow travel on its best. In nature, in tranquility and shared with friends and loved ones. It’s off the beaten path and definitely a good form of alternative travel.

Here’s a guide on how my experience was with this river boat and on how you can book one.

Bateaux Nicols Octofly boat on a river near Biesbosch in The Netherlands
ABOVE: The Biesbosch nature reserve stretches out as far as the eye can see. It’s beautiful.

Kerkdriel harbor

The Bateaux Nicols river boats are docked in a little harbor at Kerkdriel. This is where you need to go after you booked your boat online on the Bateaux Nicols website.

When you get there, you walk up to the Bateaux Nicols helpdesk on the pier and in no time the friendly staff will be giving you instructions on how to manage and steer the ship.

In no time, you’ll be navigating away on the Maas river in The Netherlands as a captain of your own beautiful river boat.

Water landscape near the Biesbosch in the Netherlands
ABOVE: The water lands around the Biesbosch consist of many rivers and forests on the banks. As the area was flooded once in medieval times, it’s easy to notice that it’s impossible to settle here as solid ground is scarce.
BELOW: Going for a swim via diving from your boat can be a great and refreshing idea. But make sure you do this in the summertime when the cold river water has warmed up.
Water landscape and forest near the Biesbosch in the Netherlands

Oudheusden

Not that far from Kerkdriel harbor, there is a little town that used to be a fortified city in the 18th century.

WOII bombing destroyed more than 90% of the old city walls. But over time the shape of the walls on the river banks have been rebuilt with grassy flanks.

Visiting this old city in The Netherlands will bring you back in time. And, the harbor where you can dock your boat is a peaceful place. You can go for a relaxing stroll in the Oudheusden city center, which is a 5-minute walk from your boat. And, after that, you can walk around the city center on the river banks next to the water. Maybe, later you have some good food on the boat or have a bbq while you gaze at the sunset.

Bateaux Nicols Octofly boat on a river near Oud-Heusden in The Netherlands
ABOVE & BELOW: In Oudheusden there is a calm and tiny harbor where you can dock your boat. The place is amazing when you hang around your boat around sundown.

Hiking near the Biesbosch

The Biesbosch nature reserve is a large area in The Netherlands with a lot of river branches and stretched out water landscapes. There are a couple of hiking routes on solid ground near the Biesbosch museum.

Here in the Biesbosch, you’ll rarely see houses and roads, but mainly rivers and their natural river banks. And, sometimes you’ll see another boat crossing by. You’ll be slow traveling on your river boat, so you can take your time here.

The Biesbosch once was inhabited in the 16th century as they obstructed the area with a dam. But then the area was flooded by natural cause as the dam wasn’t strong enough and this happened a couple of times. The surviving inhabitants fled to nearby cities on higher grounds like Dordrecht or Rotterdam and the Biesbosch became a nature reserve.

Nature near the Biesbosch in the Netherlands
ABOVE: Sights like this is what you can expect on a short hike around the Biesbosch museum.
Nature near the Biesbosch in the Netherlands
ABOVE: this is what people around the Biesbosch once used for hunting ducks. They would make the ducks fly into this caged in tunnel, which gets very narrow at the end. The ducks would get stuck at the end and then they were easy to catch.
BELOW: An old boat and if you look closely, you can see a lot of willow trees in background. Locals use the strong and flexible willow branches to build baskets, shelters and all other kinds of construction.
Boat 1912 near the Biesbosch in the Netherlands
House near the Biesbosch in the Netherlands
ABOVE: a shelter built out of willow branches.
BELOW: Spotted a house and a boat in the Biesbosch!!
House near the Biesbosch in the Netherlands

A little harbor in the Biesbosch nature reserve

Tucked away in a small river branch somewhere in the Biesbosch, there is a small harbor that’s perfect for your slow travel river boat trip. You can dock your boat here and enjoy the natural surroundings. The sunset here is stunning and you can go for a short walk in the harbor.

Tip: Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay a small fee in every river harbor if you stay overnight for electricity etc.

Harbor near the Biesbosch in the Netherlands
ABOVE: the sunset is amazing in this little harbor, close to the Biesbosch and completely surrounded by nature.
BELOW: this is the Octofly boat of Bateaux Nicols that we got to try out. What a boat, right?
Bateaux Nicols Octofly boat on a river near Oud-Heusden in The Netherlands

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