Murray River Safari

Murray River Safari is a guided wildlife adventure in remote South Australia, combining the comforts of houseboat accommodation with exclusive access to diverse riverine habitats.

Your guides will lead you on four easy field trips into different landscapes – 2 per day to discover the diverse wildlife within the Riverland Ramsar Wetland of International Importance where more than 180 endemic bird species have been recorded. You will return to your houseboat for lunch and relaxation before your next field trip.

In just 3 days you’ll encounter marsupial fauna including koalas, possums and kangaroos, spectacular outback lakes teeming with birdlife including migratory species, and the opportunity to see wildlife in its natural habitat.

Guided field trips include:

  • Cruising the river on your private pontoon cruiser spotting koalas and kangaroos, pelicans, and swans
  • Canoeing in tranquil backwaters encountering ducks, darters, cormorants, and Whistling kites
  • Walking through woodlands and cliffs spotting whistlers, Wedge-tailed Eagles, honeyeaters, parrots and migratory bee-eaters.
  • Driving to the floodplain lakes in a high conservancy area where spectacular birdwatching can include Black swans and their cygnets, Pied Stilts, Red-necked Avocets, Yellow-billed Spoonbills, migratory waders and rarely seen Blue-billed ducks and Musk ducks.

Each night you can sit by a riverbank campfire under the sparkling starlit skies where your lodge style houseboat accommodation is moored. You’ll also be treated to superb local food with a creative native twist.

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Dates March-November 2021
Duration 3 Days
Grade Active
Accommodation Houseboat
From $1,750 pp twin share
Interests Birdwatching & wildlife
Location Renmark, South Australia
The crew were so incredibly skilled and knowledgeable and everything so streamlined. They work so tirelessly so that we could have an incredible holiday as well as learning experience. Really appreciated all their efforts.
John, VIC


Day 1: Cruising the river and the forest at night

Meet the Murray River Safari team in Paringa where your guide will provide a brief introduction to the landscape before you and you board our roomy pontoon cruiser and begin cruising along the Murray River. You discover river country with keen eyes scanning the tree line for koalas and waterbirds.

You’ll be welcomed at the houseboat where lunch has been prepared. Enjoy lunch while admiring the mighty red gums spotting pelicans, swallows, darters from the houseboat.

In the afternoon, enjoy a driving tour to a great ephemeral lake where spectacular birdwatching can include Black swans and their cygnets, Pied Stilts, Red-necked Avocets, Yellow-billed Spoonbills, migratory waders and rarer Blue-billed ducks and Musk ducks. Harriers and Whistling Kites will be busy in this area and an occasional Wedge-tailed Eagle may visit.

Returning back to the houseboat, enjoy a hot spa on the top deck overlooking the river at sunset and listen to the Whistling Kites call. Nocturnal walking and stargazing the night skies await after dinner and your guides will help you find Possums and star constellations in the night sky.

Day 2: Canoeing the creeks and walking the woodlands and cliffs,

After a nourishing breakfast, enjoy a guided canoe through the quiet creeks where you’ll encounter pelicans, darters, cormorants, and spoonbills before cruising along the river on twilight.

Returning to the houseboat for lunch, there is time to rest before a guided cliff walk with possibilities of spotting Wedge-tailed Eagles, honeyeaters, and migratory bee eaters in warmer months. Keen eyes will also be on the lookout for Fairywrens, kangaroos and striped emu chicks in spring.

The afternoon is spent on the houseboat admiring the sunset from the top deck spa before your guides prepare a locally-focused three-course meal to complete the day. Stargazing around the campfire is a restful way to end the evening.

Day 3: Red gum river cruise and houseboat lunch

The dawn chorus and aromas of great coffee raise you from your sleep. Enjoy breakfast on the houseboat as the sunlight on the cliffs is reflected in the mirror-like surface of the river. After breakfast, we explore the riverbank and see the benefits of enivonrmental watering on the creek system. Gather your thoughts and record your inspirations during a leisurely cruise on the houseboat passed spectacular red-ochre cliffs to our lunch destination on the river.

Relax in your surroundings savouring a lunch prepared by your guides and served on the top deck of the houseboat (if the weather permits). After another short cruise on the houseboat, we arrive at the final destination and say our farewells as you depart to Paringa for transfers further afield.

Lodge Style Accommodation

Each night your houseboat accommodation is moored in spectacular locations. Your safari guides take you on 4 field trips – 2 per day, returning to the houseboat for lunch and for superb sunsets and dinners each evening.

More information about your houseboat accommodation

The creature comforts include 5 bedrooms (each room sleeps 2 people), 2 bathrooms with hot showers, a spacious lounge, a modern kitchen and a top deck area with hot spa and spectacular views.

The houseboat accommodation is exclusively yours and you only need to unpack once as you keep the same room for the entire journey.

Eco-conscious comfort

Operating in such a delicate environment, houseboats are the perfect accommodation for maintaining a low impact activity on the river system. Our ‘leave no trace’ approach is maintained and all waste is taken onshore to be composted, recycled or disposed of appropriately.

Ready to book?

AUD$1,750 per person twin share
AUD$2,625 per person in non-shared room
AUD$1,750 per person single traveller willing to share a room
Tours depart from March 2021

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Frequently Asked Questions

What types of plants & animals might we see?

Although we can’t guarantee sightings, we frequently encounter red and grey kangaroos, emus, echidnas, pelicans, goannas, possums, whistling kites & wedge-tailed eagles, and more than 60 species of endemic birds including rare regent parrots, Australian ringneck parrots and crimson rosellas. Ducks and migratory waders such as sharp-tailed sandpipers are often seen on the lakes together with red-necked avocets and pied stilts.

Common species of plants that you will see include river red-gums, black box eucalypts and mallee-eucalypts, river coobah, emu bush, showy daisies, Darling lilies, ruby saltbush and many more.

We do not feed or handle animals on our tours and we do not encourage our guests to do so while on tour.

Can you cater to special dietary requirements?

We cater for special dietary requirements — we just need to know in advance. Your guides prepare nourishing three-course meals each night that showcase local produce paired with local wines. A range of beverages are available including juice, cordial, beer and wine, tea and coffee. We also provide milk (dairy) and almond milk (non-dairy).

Are the activities hard?

Canoeing will typically be in a double canoe so that you can share the paddling. The agility to get in and out of the canoe is important and our guides will assist you to get started if you are a novice.

A 5 km walk is considered easy on flat terrain, and there is a gentle ascent and descent up and down the river cliffs.

Our walking pace is designed to allow you to enjoy the diverse river landscapes, wildlife and the people you are walking with. There’s plenty of time to take photos and savour the view.

All other activities will involve your guides transferring you to spectacular locations in a minibus, pontoon cruiser or the houseboat.

What is a ‘pontoon cruiser’ boat?

The cruiser is a comfortable 12 seater “open air” pontoon style boat. It is a stable, secure and quiet craft, navigated expertly by your guide along the mighty Murray River. The pontoon boat transfers you to and from your daily adventures and is a great way to see wildlife along the river, its backwaters, and creeks.

What clothing should I pack?

Packing should be guided by the average monthly temperatures. We recommend packing clothing that can be layered and a wind/waterproof jacket along with a beanie, scarf and gloves for extra comfort if it rains or whilst cruising early in the morning. Also pack a sun hat.

What is the weather like?

Murray River Safari operates between March and November to avoid the hot summer heat of December, January and February.

March, April, October and November are all warm months that will encourage you to take a swim in the river when you are on the houseboat. The average daily maximum temperatures for these months (degrees Celsius) ranges from 26.3C to 30.9C.

Hot days will occur and therefore light clothes, sun hats and sunscreen are important as well as carrying water each day.

May to September are the cooler months where conditions make for comfortable walking. Calm, sunny days are typical during these cooler months, but make sure you pack a windproof jacket for travelling in the open-air pontoon cruiser. Campfires are permitted at this time of year.

The average daily maximum temperatures (degrees Celsius) are as follows: May 20°C, June 17°C, July 17°C, August 18°C, September 21°C.

What type of shoes should I wear?

We recommend you wear lace-up hiking shoes or boots that have sturdy, treaded soles for daily activities and comfortable shoes for nightly wear on the houseboat. Sneakers should not be worn on your walk.

What do I carry each day?

We provide you with a 34 litre daypack to carry your lunch, a 1 litre water bottle, snacks, warm layers and other personal items in. This will weigh between 3 to 5kg depending on the additional items you choose to pack.

How many guides are there?

Two guides will accompany you on Safari who are both great interpreters and fantastic cooks. One of your guides will accompany you on the activities away from the houseboat (canoeing, walking, cruising, birdwatching on spectacular inland lakes) while a second guide will remain on the houseboat preparing meals for when you return.

How many guests will be on my trip?

Murray River Safari tours accommodate up to 10 people. The small group size ensures minimal wildlife disturbance and allows sharing of nature and easy conversations with like-minded people and your friendly and knowledgeable guides.

Where do tours depart from?

Safari journeys depart from Paringa (5 minutes from Renmark) in the Riverland region of South Australia from March through until November.

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