According to the World Health Organization, people who have disabilities comprise approximately 16% of the global population. A significant percentage, yet until recently, various businesses and travel suppliers neglected to make accessibility and inclusivity a priority.
Embarking on an African safari is often viewed as a journey of a lifetime. However, for people with disabilities, the question has often loomed: is this mesmerizing adventure accessible to all? The wonderful news is that many travel suppliers are now taking the necessary steps to ensure nobody misses out on the chance to see Africa’s incredible wildlife up close.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Can people with disabilities go on safari?
Absolutely, yes. The safari dream isn’t bound by physical limitations. As the world grows more inclusive, African travel suppliers are echoing this sentiment. While the path toward total accessibility is ongoing, significant strides have already been made.
How have Africa’s travel suppliers catered to the needs of travellers with disabilities?
In its characteristic warmth and hospitality, the African travel industry has risen to the challenge of ensuring safaris are inclusive experiences. Here’s a snapshot look at what to expect when staying at a wheelchair-accessible lodge:
- Ramps: Many properties have placed ramps across their venues, ensuring all public areas and accommodations are easily navigable. This simple yet impactful change opens up many experiences for travellers with disabilities, from getting cozy in a luxurious tented suite to enjoying a sundowner overlooking the vast plains.
- Specialized Units: Some suppliers have gone the extra mile by constructing special units that specifically cater to the needs of travellers with disabilities. These units are thoughtfully designed for maximum comfort and safety. Features include grab handles in the bath and shower areas, wheel-in shower stalls, hand-held shower nozzles, and modified furniture that marries elegance with convenience.
- Transfers and Beyond: The journey is as significant as the destination. Recognizing this, several suppliers now offer wheelchair-accessible transfers for a seamless adventure from arrival to departure.
- Additional Amenities: In the realm of inclusive luxury, portable pool hoists allow guests with disabilities to take a refreshing dip, while shower seats and commode chairs enhance the comfort quotient. For wildlife enthusiasts, wheelchair-accessible hides have also emerged.
- Customized Beddings: The idea of adjustable beds in the heart of the wilderness may sound like a dream, but it’s a reality for many.
Prioritizing accessibility: GILTEDGE’s preferred travel suppliers
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge
Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge offers a dedicated unit for its guests with disabilities. This unit features grab handles in the bath and shower, a hand-held shower nozzle, and a wheel-in shower stall. All furniture, including the bed, has been modified and sits at an easily accessible height for wheelchair users. The broader property is fitted with ramps for easy access to all public areas, including the boma. Guests with disabilities can also enjoy game drives due to various special arrangements.
Known for its universally accessible suite, MalaMala was designed in accordance with the Disabled People’s Information Service of South Africa and international standards. The suite has a wheel-in shower with adapted fittings, height-adjusted furniture, no loose rugs or carpets, a ramp entrance, and a separate lounge area that staff can convert into an additional bedroom should a guest with a disability require the care of a nurse or helper. Furthermore, the lodge’s Land Rovers are disability-friendly, too.
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge
andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve is home to Phinda Mountain Lodge, which is wheelchair accessible (with assistance) and offers a wheelchair-friendly room. Along with this specialized room, the lodge provides five suites within easy walking distance of communal areas – ideally suited to older guests and guests with reduced mobility.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Stanley & Livingstone Boutique Hotel
Just a 15-minute drive from the Falls, MORE Family Collection’s Stanley & Livingstone Boutique Hotel has a wheelchair-friendly suite with easy access from the car park through reception and to the room. The hotel features just 16 luxury suites and is known for its hyper-personalized hospitality – the staff is always on hand to assist with any mobility challenges and to make adjustments that maximize comfort and convenience for all guests, including guests with disabilities.
Mbano Manor Hotel
Another accessible hotel on Victoria Falls’ Zimbabwe side, Mbano Manor Hotel, ensures nobody misses out on the chance to admire this Wonder of the World (which, by the way, is also wheelchair-friendly, as are many helicopter rides providing a different perspective on the Falls). The majority of the hotel is wheelchair-friendly, including a wheelchair-accessible registration desk. Certain rooms incorporate an accessible bathroom and a roll-in shower.
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Chobe Game Lodge
Chobe Game Lodge is miles ahead of many other properties within Botswana’s Chobe National Park. It boasts two fully accessible rooms, and both offer improved wheelchair access to the game drive and boat jetty entrance for safaris. As for the broader lodge, wheelchair users will find it effortless to move between the riverside boma dining area, restaurant, terrace lounge, and boardwalk and deck.
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
A child-friendly and fenced camp, Camp Xakanaxa is also wheelchair-friendly on request. While there are no dedicated units for guests with disabilities, the staff at the camp are happy to make special arrangements as required to ensure accessibility for all guests.
Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya
Angama Mara is a popular choice among travellers hoping to grab a front-row seat to the Greatest Show on Earth, the Great Migration. The great news is it’s easy for travellers with disabilities to watch the action unfold, too. Angama Mara has a fully wheelchair-accessible tented suite, which, like all other tented suites, boasts a 180-degree view over the valley.
Need assistance planning an accessible vacation? Choose Team GILTEDGE as your guide. With experience crafting tailored African adventures for every type of traveller, our experts are here to ensure a comfortable, convenient, and entirely unforgettable getaway for every member of your travel party. Contact us today.