How Accessible is Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal?

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I plan to discover the answer firsthand in January 2009. Watch for the travelogue.

The world's expert on safari accessibility is Gordon Rattray with his site Able Travel but the emerging tour operator for travelers with disabilities in KwaZulu-Natal is Jennae Bezuidenhout. You will find her site at Access2AfricaSafaris

Below is their 10-day itinerary packed with options.

10 DAY TOUR

DAY 1

A warm welcome awaits you at Durban International airport where you will
be met by your friendly hosts.You will be transfered in fully
accessible, airconditioned vehicles through Durban, africas exciting
seaside paradise to The Makaranga Garden Lodge. This lodge is the
premier lodge in South Africa catering for people with physical
disabilities and one of the few resorts in the world providing
wheelchair users with the opportunity to enjoy luxurious facilities and
30 acres of private botanical gardens.The grounds and buildings of
Makaranga have been designed to be totally wheelchair friendly with 18
ponds,waterways and profilic birdlife and sleeping facilities for
carers.There is even a swimming pool with full access for wheelchair
users. Located in the rolling hills of KwazuluNatal and near the Valley
of Thousand Hills this is the perfect place to unwind, relax,be
enchanted by the scenery after your exertions of a long flight.The
beautiful gardens are a oasis of peace and serenity with indigenous and
exotic plants and provide the ideal backdrop to achieve the desired
levels of relaxation for all who visit. Soak up the spirit of our
special slice of africa while enjoying refreshments on the Tuscan
Terrance which overlooks a pond.

DAY 2

Today holds much excitement as we explore The Golden Mile along the
Durban Beachfront with its wonderful mix of
cultures,nationalities,shops,stunning beaches,fleamarkets,restaurants
and places of interest. You may choose exciting attractions to visit
such as Ushakamarine World Africas largest aquaruim with its seal and
dolphin stadium and aquariums where you can touch a starfish and feel
the skin of a sea cucumber with the help of a trained guide. Be
fascinated by sharks,sea snakes and stone fish! We have lunch along the
Village Walk with its numerous shops and restaurants before heading back
to the Makaranga Lodge for much needed rest from the days excitement.

DAY 3

A unique and captivating day begins. We head for Umshlanga a prime
up-market beach resort with protected beaches,restaurants and many other
attractions. Umshlanga is home to The Sharks Board where we enjoy an
informative, entertaining and eye opening audio and visual of sharks and
their history. For those who would like a adventure of a difference we
head for the beach where the QuadPara Association of South Africa
through the sponsorship from Approved Auto and The Rotary Club of Kloof
have placed 3 beach wheelchairs. These chairs allow persons with
mobility difficulties the opportunity to be pushed easily over the
beachs and to the waters edge and in calm conditions one can float
safely on water. There is no charge for the use of these chairs.
Alternatively one can relax,unwind and enjoy the views of the warm
Indian ocean all along the beachfront as it is completely accessible.

DAY 4

Time to head for The Valley of Thousand Years Hills towards
Petermaritzburg. Revisit a bygone era as you travel along the same roads
as ancient Zulu Tribes did. Sleepy villages of ancient Zulu communities
nestled in thick forests welcomes you to the valley. The Phezulu Park in
The Valley of Thousand Hills is famous for its crocodile farm,the
longest crocodile of which is 4.5 metres long. Learn of the African Zulu
Tribe as you visit its cultural village.Be spellbound by the energic
Zulu Dancing with its awesome rhythm of drumbeats and african dancing.
There is a stunning heritage market in Hillcrest filled with
curios,quaint coffee shops,home industries and crafts where you will be
entertained looking for special reminders of your african adventure.

DAY 5

After a leisurely breakfast we set out for the Midland Meander towards
Petermarizburg,a stunning stretch of 80 kms long and brimming with
amazing sights,sounds,and activities.In 1985 local artists,potters and
weavers decided to join forces to create an arts and crafts route and
The Midland Meander was born.Today we explore,eat,drink,shop,play and
enjoy the diverse and fascinating mix of arts,crafts through the
villages set in picturesque landscapes offering magnificent views.

DAY 6

Today we head out for the great african safari to the Umfolozi/Hluhluwe
Game Reserve situated in the largest and most spectacular Ecotourism
region in South Africa. Established in1895 Hluhluwe/Umfolozi is the home
of The Big Five and Operation Rhino. It became world renowned for saving
the white rhino from extinction. This is where we will be spending the
next three days. A warm welcome awaits you at your accommodation, The
Hilltop camp which is situated high on the edge of a forested slope
where it commands breathtaking views of Zululands hills and valleys.
After settling in at your comfortable spacious and completely accessible
thatched chalet,we introduce you to the magical experience of Zululand
and explore this magnificent 100000 hectares of africa.

You will be sure to spot elephant,buffalo,giraffe,warthog,zebra,impala
and wildebeest and many other species.The park is also home animals such
as Lion,Leopard and Wild Dog. Enjoy a peaceful and safe ambience with
africa and its wildlife in your luxurious,airconditioned vehicle with
your experienced Game Ranger and your host. Enjoy a safari picnic at one
of the several picnic sites with splendid views overlooking floodplains
and rivers.All meals during your stay is at the Mpunyane Restaurant
where you will be captivated by excellant service and world class
cuisine.There is also the relaxing Uzavolo Bar Lounge which lends itself
to discussions of the days experiences.

DAY 7

This is the day where the spirit of africa touches your soul. We embark
on leisurely extended game drives to all areas of the Park. There is
much to explore! Your experienced ranger will help you spot and identify
many species of bird and animal life. (The Elephant Coast has more then
500 species of birdlife recorded). With a little assistance most people
will be able to distinguish the more common families of birds in no time
at all.Look out for the abundant animal life such as black
rhino,nyala,kudu,hippo,crocodile,waterbuck,reedbuck,red
duiker,baboons,monkeys,hyena,wildebeest,giraffe and often to be seen
elephant and buffalo You may also see lion, cheeta, wild dog and other
predators.For those who are able to transfer, we arrange night drives in
open vehicle safari trucks where one can get to spot the noctural animal
life such as leopard and the bushbaby.Those who prefer can be taken on
nightdrives with the accessible buses.


DAY 8

Today will be a special excursion: You will visit numerous eco/cutural
activities available in the area. Visit the ancient World Heritage Site
at False Bay ,the largest estuarine system formed in africa formed 140
million years ago. Other attractions include Ilala Weavers with its
restaurant,museum and curio shops featuring tradtional Zulu basket
weaving and beading. A trip to a local Wildlife Reserve, an animal
sanctuary which is a non hunting reserve will intrigue you as the Zebra
are so tame they eat out of your hands. Other activites available is a
tour to Muzi Pan where one can be taken by canoe past the abundant
bird,crocodile and hippo life. Alternatively you will be able to enjoy
this from the shoreline as well.

DAY 9

After waking up to the sound of Africa with birds and nature, we enjoy a
leisurely breakfast and set off for the return back to Durban. We visit
St Lucia, a picturesome village situated within a nature reserve and
which is surrounded by 5 distinct ecosystems and Isimangaliso Wetland
Park.St Lucia offers the day visitor an endless wealth of possibilities
with its shops,curio and africanware, fleamarkets,pubs,restaurants,
boattrips, crocodile farms and a lovely interpretation centre explaining
the ecology of the World Natural Heritage Site.

For those who are adventurous whale watching sightseeing boat trips(In
season) can be arranged.We finally head back down the Elephant Coast to
Durban to your hotel for a good nights rest.

DAY 10

Time to rest relax and prepare for your flight and transfer to Durban
International Airport. For those who prefer to extend their tour to
Capetown or Johannesburg, we are more then happy to assist you with any
final arrangements.

Contact: Access 2 Africa Safaris

http://www.access2africasafaris.co.za
Tel: 0027 35 5620614
Fax: 086 524 3482
Cell: 0027 842642194
E-mail: info@access2africasafaris.co.za

Other resources:

KwaZulu Natal Tourism
http://www.tourism-kzn.org/

Report from a previous KwaZul-Natal fam:
http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2007/08/24/24981/africa-kwa-zulu-natal-fam-trip-24-aug-2007.html

Southern Africa's attractions:
South Africa Direct TV:

http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2007/11/19/25923/new-tv-channel-to-promote-southern-africa.html

African Beach Report:

http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2007/08/24/24982/african-beaches-five-of-the-best-24-aug-2007.html

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