Safaris without limits

May 19th 2020  |   Wildlife Safaris, Unique Experiences  |  by   Jess Hills
Safaris without limits

We are passionate about tailoring safaris to perfectly match the needs of our clients. Our biggest thrill is receiving feedback such as, ‘everywhere we stayed was perfect for us’. It means we’ve done our job properly; enabling our guests to relax and enjoy the magic of safari with all their wishes taken care of.

Limited mobility or other issues necessitating special requirements need not limit what you envisage for your safari. We’ve arranged everything from gorilla tracking for guests in wheelchairs to sensory safaris for blind visitors.

Tracking mountain gorillas from Gorilla Forest Camp

These days plenty of lodges, particularly in South Africa but elsewhere too, are well set up for visitors in wheelchairs. However, when it comes to the nitty gritty such as bathrooms with roll-in showers, assistance in and out of vehicles, support in vehicles, and guides who can focus specifically on sight or sound, things can get trickier. This is where our knowledge and experience comes to the fore and where we can really take the weight of research off your shoulders.

Discussions pinpointing exact requirements often need to happen over a period of time. We will ask questions based on our knowledge of Africa and encourage you to share with us the things you know will help from your experience of travelling – your knowledge of your needs, and the help you’re happy having provided, will be greater than ours. The more we know in advance, the better we can put things in place to make a holiday go smoothly. Leaving longer to plan allows us to secure availability in particular rooms, book specific guides, request private vehicles, and make detailed plans so that your experience matches your expectations for the safari.

Private vehicles are included in your stay at Sausage Tree Camp

We take care of the things you may not have thought of; extra luggage allowance on light aircraft flights for wheelchairs, reminding you to pack spares for inflatable tyres in case of thorns, and can give advice on getting in and out of vehicles with limited mobility and solutions you can expect such as using the more easily accessible front seat.

Tanda Tula, based in the Timbavati Private Game Reserve in the Kruger region, has specially adapted safari vehicles with straps for guests who need assistance with supporting their body weight. Tent 4, although not specifically adapted for wheelchair users, is larger than the others and has rails in the bathroom and shower, with space for a wheelchair next to the loo. The accommodation is supremely comfortable but it is really the team here who account for such a high number of repeat guests with limited mobility. Their willingness to go the extra mile – they’ve been known to give wheelchairs a service and pump up tyres whilst guests are out on safari – is extraordinary.

Tanda Tula set up for supper under the stars

For a lodge experience, Lion Sands Tinga Lodge in the Sabi Sands has five wheelchair-friendly rooms with roll-in showers, grab rails and a shower seat, plus assistance into vehicles. Sabi Sabi Little Bush Lodge goes even further with a dedicated paraplegic unit. These properties are easy to get around in a wheelchair, with no steps between rooms and main areas and firm, flat pathways.

When arranging safaris for visually impaired or blind guests, the guide is the most crucial factor as they are going to be describing what is going on around you. Guides are natural story tellers but some, like Shaun D’araujo (see video below) at Londolozi, have a particular flair, and can set aside the usual guiding ‘go tos’ of explaining behaviour, family structures, feeding patterns and just depict what the animal looks like and what they are doing before going into more detail.

It can be helpful to take a private vehicle, so that your guide can fully describe a lion’s mane, how a giraffe’s tongue twists around a branch to strip the leaves, and how warthog’s tails shoot straight up in the air when running away.

In the bush it’s often senses other than sight that alert you to the presence of animals. Puku whistles and baboon alarm calls are giveaways that a leopard is close. A pungent smell or vultures calling often suggest a kill is nearby. Bird calls, like the liquid notes of an oriole or the distinctive cry of the fish eagle, are frequent and beautiful aspects of the wilderness, and only a few guides, such as Samuel Japane at Outpost Lodge, can identify every one.

Electric vehicles at Lewa Wilderness allow for undisturbed wildlife viewing

Lewa Wilderness in Kenya has an electric vehicle which means you won’t have to strain to hear all the sounds around you. Lodges offering walking safaris, such as Serian Camp where a private guide is also included in the nightly rate, allow you to hear everything and use touch to connect with aspects of the bush such as plants, trees, tracks, scat, feathers, hides and bones.

Lion roaring at Londolozi

Where hearing is taken away, sight is all the more important and so wildlife areas with high concentrations of wildlife and particularly beautiful landscapes, like the Okavango Delta, work well. Gliding through lily strewn waterways, seeing the patterns of a painted frog and feeling the cool water against your palm is completely magical. If you’re lucky the rumble of a herd of bull elephants might resonate in your chest as you round a corner to see them drinking ahead of you. Elephants use vibrations rather than sound to communicate, and pick messages up through the pads of their feet, which are incredibly sensitive. Similarly, if close enough, you will feel the roar of a lion, which is incredibly powerful. Travelling with an interpreter will allow you to soak up all of your guide’s knowledge, and using camps where a private vehicle is included in the rate, such as at Sausage Tree Camp in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, will allow you to spend more time with each sighting.

Jao Camp Botswana - Mokoro Landscape - Dana Allen

Gliding through the Okavango Delta on mokoro canoes from Jao Camp.

What next?

If this has inspired you to dream about future safaris, please do get in touch – we would be delighted to chat, no matter how early in the decision making process you might be. Email is probably the best way to contact us right now and we’ll respond as quickly as we can – usually on the same day.  We very much look forward to talking to you.

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