Peacefully floating along and clearing your mind of stress – a houseboat vacation makes it possible. But is accessible travel really an option in such a tiny space? Absolutely. Bungalow-style boats – abbreviated BunBo – make this dream come true. Depending on their size and equipment, they can accommodate four to six people and make for a unique vacation on the water.
Pick-up and drop-off for all houseboats and tours is at the same selected location.
REHACARE.com spoke with Andreas Fenkse of the Unfallopfer-Hilfswerk (English: Victim Relief Organization) about the BunBo’s wheelchair accessible equipment and found out why the houseboats are becoming increasingly popular.
Mr. Fenske, which tours do you offer for the accessible houseboats? Andreas Fenske: Renters can charter our accessible houseboats at the following locations in Brandenburg: Plaue, Lychen, and Zernsdorf.
Travelers can explore the lower Havel River, as well as bodies of water in Potsdam and Berlin launching from our Plaue/Brandenburg charter base. This section of the river is shaped by villages and lowland landscapes. The bungalow houseboat 1000L - with four sleeping spaces - as well as the 1160L model – accommodating up to six berths - can also be chartered at this marina.
Explore the beauty of "Fontane’s literary landscapes" starting at Lychen. Visit nearby Fürstenberg/Havel and Templin with its very well-preserved city wall. We also recommend a trip to the baroque royal residences of Neustrelitz and Rheinsberg. Guests can rent the bungalow houseboat 1000L at this charter base.
Enjoy the charms of Zernsdorf. The Dahme municipality between Berlin, Scharmützelsee and the Spreewald is known for its amazing water sports options and for being a popular vacation spot and recreational area in the state of Brandenburg. The Dahme-Heideseen Nature Park is a local recreational gem right outside Berlin. The Märkische Forests and surrounding bodies of water make this Nature Park a unique experience by and on the water. You can rent the bungalow houseboat 1000L at this charter base.
What is the layout and equipment of the houseboats?
Fenske: Our accessible bungalow houseboats have all the comforts of a vacation home combined with the mobility of a houseboat and all this right outside Berlin. Our two accessible models are the BunBo 1000L and the BunBo 1160L. The BunBo 1000L is ten meters long and 4.60 meters wide. The BunBo 1160L is 11.60 meters long and 4.95 meters wide.
The boats have no barriers and all doorways are at least 80 centimeters wide, some are sliding doors. Among other options, the bedrooms have mobility aids to assist with transfers and positioning. The bathroom is 1.50 by 2 meters and has a separate shower seat with back support and armrests or a bath chair with handles. The toilet has grab bars (handles).
The 1160L model also has a sunroom and lift equipment, allowing wheelchair users to swim in the Havel River.
Both houseboat models have ample room behind the steering wheel and feature a portable ramp. For a complete overview of the houseboat equipment and layout, please visit www.handicaptravel.de.
People who use a wheelchair can operate the BunBo houseboats themselves after an instruction on site. A ramp is also part of the basic equipment to get ashore or on board.
Who can charter and operate the houseboats? Fenske: Anyone can charter the houseboats. No previous sailing experience is required. There is no special boating license needed to operate our boats, but you will need a so-called charter permit. After booking the boat, you will receive the theory portion of the test via e-mail. We strongly suggest that our guests familiarize themselves with the theoretical subject matter. Comprehensive on-site practical and theoretical instruction is provided before renters can obtain the houseboat. The charter permit is issued upon completion and entitles our customers to travel the aforementioned German inland waterways.
How and where can you reserve the houseboats? Fenske: You can conveniently rent the boats online at www.handicaptravel.de. The website lists the available and unavailable dates, as well as other relevant information.
Have you noticed an increasing demand in recent years? Fenske: The boats are in high demand – and we project a growing demand in the future. Rentals are very popular around school holidays. There are simply not enough travel options for wheelchair users that facilitate fully customized and amazing vacations. After all, your average vacation options in special accommodations are not everyone’s cup of tea.
Nadine Lormis (translated by Elena O'Meara) REHACARE.com