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African Safari for Disabled Travelers

For travelers with mobility issues, an African safari may seem out of reach. However, with roads and lodges becoming more and more accessible to travelers who use a wheelchair, an African safari has never been more achievable.

There are still a lot of things to think about when it comes to finding the best-suited properties for disabled travelers. For instance, many traditional safari lodges and camps might have unpaved or rocky pathways, multiple steps up to the main mess area, or even require you to board a small boat or bridge to access the camp. 

At Yellow Zebra, we have planned many holidays for visually impaired travelers, children with disabilities, and wheelchair users. We’ve come up with our top destinations to consider below. If you would like to speak to an expert, please don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us on ​+1 855 225 1155.

Top Africa Destinations for a holiday for disabled adults

1. Accessible safaris in Botswana

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Mobility-friendly pathways

DinnerAlfresco CampO 12628

Tailored activities by Desert & Delta

In Botswana, we love the Desert & Delta properties as they have good wheelchair access when it comes to both camps and vehicles. The safari vehicles have been specially designed and converted to cater to guests with mobility issues. The sides of the vehicles are canvas and so can be unzipped next to the hydraulic lifts to ease wheelchairs into and out of the vehicle with the ramp. 

For those who are visually impaired, the Desert & Delta safaris focus on other senses, such as sound and touch. The professional guides use their in-depth knowledge and training to enhance the experience of any wildlife spotting. Where it’s safe to do so, guests may be able to get out of the vehicle to touch and smell elements of the bush. 

Our preferred properties? We would suggest Desert & Delta’s Chobe Game Lodge, Camp Moremi, and Camp Okavango.

2. Safari accessibility in Kenya

The perfect itinerary that we could offer to a wheelchair user in Kenya would involve, first, Lewa House, a great little property in a northern wildlife conservancy, and then Offbeat Ndoto Camp, a small intimate camp in the Mara North Conservancy. 

However, don’t just take our word for it! Here’s YZ client Sara Weller’s own experience:

client review, wheelchair access
"I’ve been a YZ customer for many years but in the three “lockdown” years since 2019, I had become increasingly immobile, and this was the first time I would be traveling on my own and with a wheelchair. Going on safari may not seem the obvious holiday for anyone with mobility problems, but, as I discovered on my latest visit to Kenya, it is not only possible but it can also be enormous fun for an intrepid traveler."

“Right from the start, James planned every detail. He called each camp to make sure they were geared up to help. He arranged support between Nairobi airport and my overnight hotel in Nairobi, and then between there and Wilson airport, where Safarilink flew me between camps, with my wheelchair, which James had pre-arranged with them. I stayed at two camps – Lewa House in Laikipia and Offbeat Ndoto in the Mara North Conservancy. Both coped so well with my immobility, although they adapted in very different ways. 

“I went first to Lewa House, where I was greeted by James, the camp’s manager, who had a quick chat about what I’d need, how they had planned to help and who wheeled me down to my cottage, closest to the main camp area. After my first game drive, I came back to find the team had laid extra paving slabs to get my wheelchair up the step into my room, cleared a path through the gravel from the game drive vehicle area to the camp, and had earmarked a couple of staff to move me around. But very quickly, once they saw what I needed, the whole camp seemed to be looking out for me, ready to help wherever I appeared. Mostly they pushed me along the paths, but, where there was a flight of steps into the main camp area, they simply lifted my chair and carried me up! There was a lot of laughter as we moved around the camp, and I was made to feel very welcome by everyone, as if I was a treasured member of the family. 

Safari vehicle, client review, wheelchair access

Wheelchair-friendly safari vehicle

YZ client, wheelchair access, Africa

YZ client Sara Weller at Lewa House

“My second camp was Offbeat Ndoto in Mara North. Here I was met by Carol, the camp manager, where we again talked briefly about the plan. At Ndoto, my tent was the furthest from the main camp area, which worried me at first. But being on the end meant that David, my guide, was able to drive the safari vehicle to the bottom of my steps and take me from there on my drives, or to lunch or dinner. David improvised with an empty Coke crate to act as an impromptu step to get me into the vehicle. Around the camp we sometimes ate lunch in areas set slightly away from the main building. To get to those I was instantly offered a hand, plus a very strong arm where the ground was uneven. 

“As in Lewa, all help was given with a big smile and a genuine sense of delight in being able to help. Both camps were small (7 units at Lewa and 4 at Offbeat Ndoto), and so felt very personal, my fellow travelers were great company and incredibly supportive and I very quickly felt at home, knowing if I ever needed an extra bit of support, nothing would be too much trouble.

Bush picnic, client review, wheelchair access

Bush breakfast, Offbeat Ndoto

Lions, client review, wheelchair access

Lion spotting from vehicle

“The best part of all of this is that, once settled into the safari vehicle, my lack of mobility mattered not one jot, and I was able to enjoy all that is beautiful about the Kenyan safari – the incredible sense of calm, space and light that draws me back to Africa time and again, and the joy of getting close to the wildlife, which comes in a unique mix in each area, and feeling the delicate balance that is needed to keep the ecosystem healthy and sustainable. So, if you have accessibility needs and are thinking of a safari I would say, ‘Do it!’ – but do it with Yellow Zebra, who will take time to understand what you need and build a trip that sets you up for success. And then meet the camps with a sense of adventure and a smile, and you can have the most fantastic experience of your life.”

You can follow Sara’s #MSMustStop campaign on Instagram and YouTube.

3. South African safari for disabled travelers

South Africa prides itself on being one of the best African destinations able to offer widespread accessibility.

For the safari portion of the trip, we recommend any of the MalaMala properties Main Camp, Rattray’s, or MalaMala Sable. Located within its own private reserve in the Sabi Sands, this area has always delivered exceptional game viewing, with undeniably some of the most incredible sightings. On top of offering world-class wildlife, MalaMala has dedicated itself to being able to resolve any access issues.

Wheelchair Friendly lodge, MalaMala bedroom

Wheelchair-friendly MalaMala

Wheelchair Friendly lodge, MalaMala shower

Wheel-in showers, MalaMala

Here, game drives are conducted safely in suitably equipped Land Rovers that have ramps up and into the vehicle housing. There are elevated decks that overlook the bush for better views, and further ramps that lead to the guest bedrooms. 

‘Unit 27’ is specifically designed for guests with disabilities. It includes a master bedroom with two en-suite bathrooms and an additional universally accessible bathroom that’s able to comfortably accommodate guests who use a wheelchair. This has a wheel-in shower with all the necessary fittings, including grab rails and a folding shower seat. They have even made sure that desk and table surfaces are adjusted to the correct level at which a wheelchair is positioned, and that there are no loose rugs/carpets that will impede the movement of a wheelchair. For those who require extra assistance, there’s a separate lounge area that can be converted into a bedroom should a disabled guest require assistance from an accompanying nurse/aid.

Wheelchair safaris, accessible travel, South Africa

Outside of the safari areas, in accordance with the Disabled People’s Information Service of South Africa and in line with international standards, cities such as Cape Town offer several wheelchair-friendly activities, such as city sightseeing with bus tours, shopping at the V&A Waterfront, and even visiting the historical coastal location Simon’s Town, which has a ramp up to the best viewpoint of the harbor. Another big bonus is that most of the wine estates outside of Cape Town, around Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Paarl, are wheelchair friendly. Taking this into consideration, we at Yellow Zebra highly recommend combining Cape Town and the Winelands for an accessible holiday/vacation to South Africa.

Yellow Zebra regularly creates tailor-made safaris for wheelchair users and those who have any form of limited mobility. If you would like to speak to an expert, please don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us on ​+1 855 225 1155.

Why Trust Yellow Zebra with your African Safari?

"Yellow Zebra are genuine specialists; they know the African bush like the back of their hand."

Brian Jackman, safari expert for The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Condé Nast, and the BBC

'Europe's Leading Safari Tour Operator' at the World Travel Awards

8 years in a row, since 2015

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