I’d like to go on an African safari, and I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for accessible safari operators. I use a manual wheelchair and I’d really love to visit Tanzania, but I’m open to other countries too if they offer better access.
Unfortunately Tanzania is slow to develop an accessible infrastructure, and accessible lodging options are few and far between in that country. That said, Eco Adventure International (www.eaiadventure.com) offers an accessible safari in Tanzania that might work for some manual wheelchair-users.
This US-based company contracts with local suppliers, and their safari tours are conducted in lift-equipped vans with “the most accessible lodging they can find”. Sometimes that is just a ground floor room without an adapted bathroom, and sometimes it’s a modern room with an accessible bathroom. Additionally, the ramps at a few of the sites are a bit steep, but the staff is certainly willing to assist folks. Still, if you want to visit Tanzania, you really need a sense of adventure, and you have to be willing to accept assistance.
On the other hand, the accessible facilities in South Africa are much better developed. For example, Mala Mala Game Reserve (www.malamala.com) offers an accessible suite complete with ramps, wide doorways, wheelchair-height furniture and a bathroom with a roll-in shower. Game drives are conducted in open 4-wheel drive vehicles, and wheelchair-users can either transfer to the front seat or remain in their own wheelchair in the back of the vehicle.
If, on the other hand you’d like a more rustic experience, Endeavour Safaris (www.endeavour-safaris.com/) may be a good choice for you. They offer accessible safaris in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa. Game drives are conducted in a ramped Toyota Landcruiser, and overnight accommodations are provided in accessible tents with ensuite toilets. The tents have level access, plenty of room to maneuver a wheelchair and wheelchair-height beds. Although camping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it’s really a great way to enjoy a traditional African safari.