Safari: Barrier-free Africa

ramp for wheelchair into the jeep (Picture: GoAfrica Safaris)
With the wheelchair on safari - specialised tour guides in Africa make the dream possible (Picture: GoAfrica Safaris)

The continent of Africa is usually a blank spot on the travel map of people with disabilities. Unjustified.

Uncomfortable rides in jeeps, camping on rough ground and lack of medical care – that is how many people with disabilities imagine travelling in Africa.

Sure, a trip to Africa is an adventure. For people with and without disabilities. And that is what it is supposed to be; for all people, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. This is the basic idea of many travel suppliers in Africa.

Same experience for all

"People with disabilities are to do exactly the same as people without disabilities. For the same price", is the principle of Endeavour Safaris in South Africa.

The company looks back on ten years of experience. Michael and Silvia Hill founded Endeavour Safaris with the vision of making Southern Africa available for all potential travellers.

In 2001, they started with a camping safari in South Africa. Today, Endeavour Safaris offers travels through South Africa, Namibia and Botswana for people using wheelchairs and with other disabilities. Camping is still the main product. "It is difficult to find accessible lodges," says Michael Hill. "We set up our own camp. They are wheelchair accessible and everyone can use them."

Safaris through Africa seem to make addicted. Many disabled travellers come back again and again. Michael Hill tells of wheelchair users who have already completed eight tours.

Wheelchair user with local people (Picture: GoAfrica Safaris)
On a safari through Africa, travelers with disabilities meet another culture. (Picture: GoAfrica Safaris)

Well-conceived travel planning

But not only wheelchair users, people with prosthesis or other mobility impairments are welcome to Endeavour Safaris. The company also offers special tours for deaf or blind people.

"Travel hours on tours for blind people are much shorter and there is much emphasis on tactile and gustatory perceptions", says Michael Hill.

There is no need to worry about medical care either. "We have a good backup system. South Africa has professional hospitals with advanced infrastructure," promises the trip promoter.

For safari beginners, Michael Hill recommends a safari from 12 days to two weeks in South Africa. The tour starts are fixed. However, also individual safaris with a private group can be booked.

Endeavour Safaris also offers, if necessary, trained care staff in South Africa. For safaris through Namibia and Botswana, travel guests must still bring their own accompanist. The plan, however, is to provide trained care staff here too in the near future.

Safari for advanced

For particularly adventure-seeking travellerss with disabilities, GoAfrica Safaris has created tours through Kenya and Tanzania.

Founded in 2005, the company offers safaris for wheelchair users, slow walkers, blind people and people with other handicaps.

In order to ensure best medical support, GoAfrica Safari cooperates with Flying Doctors.

The best time for tours in Kenya and Tanzania from July to October.

"We always ensure that we understand the needs of our clients, and make sure that the accommodations and the program are actually suitable for them," says Yvonne Matiba of GoAfrica Safaris. GoAfrica Safaris can offer a male or female caregiver, as needed.

On discovery of accessible travel

Africa becomes more and more accessible from year to year. "New places are discovered and made accessible for people with limitations, more hotels and lodges are designed accessible," explains Yvonne Matiba from GoAfrica Safaris.

Anyone who would like to receive a complete overview of the providers of travels for people with disabilities through Africa, "Access Africa: Safari for Poeple with Limited Mobility" (first edition 2009) is the perfect book for detailed information.

"There is no reason for people with disabilities, not to travel to Africa," summarises Michael Hill the professional offer of Endeavour Safaris. "Everything is very well organised, planned and tailored to travellers with disabilities."

Text: MHA

Translation: MPL

Pictures: GoAfrica Safaris, Endeavour Safaris