Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge and More in South Africa


One of the byproducts of travel preparation is the generation of many more possible itineraries than I could ever possibly experience. That's where readers of Rolling Rains come in handy. Together we can experience - and report on - much more than any one person is able to. If you have experienced the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge, found an adapted boat with SA Sailing, journeied down one of these hiking trails, or tried out any of the South African National Parks features listed below please let us know your experience.

Travellers with sensory or physical disabilities have a huge variety of activities to enjoy while travelling in South Africa. There are nature-based and cultural activities, trails and sensory trips – from walking with elephants to ethnic cultural evenings.

Natural Wonder

South African National Parks has made access to its reserves as accessible as possible. Most of the camps and visitor facilities provide ramped access, and have accessible ablution facilities.

Accommodation options in most of the parks offer selected units that have been specially adapted for those with mobility restrictions – be it for guests in wheelchairs, on crutches, or those who are frail. When making a reservation, simply request the accommodation to suit your specific requirements.
Sensory Trails

Visually impaired visitors to national parks also have a lot to enjoy, with numerous trails designed specifically for their enrichment.

The Karoo National Park’s 400m wheelchair friendly Fossil Braille Trail, depicting the geology and palaeontology of the Great Karoo, has Braille inscription boards as well as taped commentary. The Namaqua Sensory Trail in Namaqua National Park is also highly acclaimed and showcases the impressive plant diversity of the area.
Touch Diversity

Berg-en-Dal rest camp, in the southern Kruger National Park, boasts a 600m Rhino Trail with Braille boards giving information on medicinal plants as well as the history of the area. And the PPC Discovery Trail in Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape enables guests in wheelchairs to follow a safely fenced boardwalk and touch various plants and succulents. The bird hide and waterhole at the park are also wheelchair friendly.

Mapungubwe’s Tree Top Hide and confluence viewing decks are all wheelchair accessible; and the West Coast Fossil Park near Langebaanweg is wheelchair friendly. And guests in wheelchairs can independently access the Augrabies waterfall.

Feeding Elephants

A 600m long trail especially designed for visual and hearing impaired hikers can be enjoyed in Durban’s Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, which has picnic spots en route. The Kamberg Nature Reserve near Pietermaritzburg has a grassed trail with handrails, leading along a rushing river, while the Lichen Trail in Mpumalanga has 180m of wide pathways with audio tapes. Horse riding on a number of trails near Pilgrim’s Rest is also possible by prior arrangement.

If you’re in the city but still want to experience African nature up close, the Johannesburg Zoo and the National Zoo in Pretoria have tailor-made night tours for visual and hearing impaired wildlife lovers.

At the two Elephant Sanctuary properties – one near Hartebeespoort Dam, the other close to Plettenberg Bay – visually impaired guests can walk with elephants, feed them and groom them. Elephant-back trips are also offered, guided by experienced elephant handlers.

If the marine environment is your special interest, the Two Ocean Aquarium in Cape Town caters for guests with sensory and physical considerations. A limited number of wheelchairs are available for use free of charge, and the entire aquarium is wheelchair accessible. For visually impaired visitors, a touch pool enables you to feel various sea creatures as well as the very different sea temperatures of the Indian and Atlantic oceans.
Flower Power

Cape Town ’s world renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens showcases the Cape floral kingdom and much more. There are over 22 000 plants to enjoy and easy paths meander through the gardens. A Braille Trail and Fragrance Garden give first-hand experiences to visually impaired visitors and fully-guided tours are available on request. If you love music, Sunday evening open-air concerts take place in the gardens throughout summer. Bring a picnic and enjoy a unique evening out.

The Witwatersrand Botanical Gardens are wheelchair friendly and the Fragrance Garden at Optima Training College in Pretoria has a unique Fragrance Trail for visually impaired flower lovers. The Karoo National Botanical Gardens showcase succulents and other unusual plants and have short walks well-suited to visually impaired visitors. The Gardens also have an acclaimed Braille Trail with explanatory labels.

Craving Culture

Just outside Johannesburg is Lesedi Cultural Village, offering a truly African experience – and it’s accessible to all. Feel the rhythm of traditional dance, listen to unique ethnic music, taste authentic dishes and overnight in real tribal homesteads.

Or, to be part of the action, visit an iconic Drum Café in Johannesburg or along the Garden Route and feel the pulse of Africa.

Unique Offering

Mcfarlane Safaris is the first South African tour operator to offer a full package designed specifically for visually impaired travellers. It’s 11 day programme takes visitors from the Kruger to Cape Town and includes tasting wine and traditional beer, touching birds of prey and feeling the spray of waterfalls. It’s a full-blown African sensory experience.


* Karoo National Park Fossil Braille Trail; Namaqua National Park Sensory Trail; Kruger National Park Rhino Trail; Addo Elephant National Park PPC Discovery Trail: www.sanparks.co.za
* West Coast Fossil Park : www.iziko.org.za
* Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens: www.kirstenbosch.co.za
* Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden; National Botanical Gardens: www.nbi.ac.za
* Elephant Sanctuary: www.elephantsanctuary.co.za
* National Zoological Gardens: www.zoo.ac.za
* Johannesburg Zoo: www.jhbzoo.org.za
* Kamberg Nature Reserve: www.drakensberg-tourism.com/ kamberg
* Mapungubwe: www. mapungubwe.com
* Two Oceans Aquarium: www.aquarium.co.za
* Drum Café: www.drumcafe.com; www.drumcafe.co.za
* Lesedi Cultural Village : www.lesedi.com
* Mcfarlane Safaris: www.mcfarlanesafaris.co.za
* AA Travel Guides always indicate facilities available at their accredited establishments: www.aatravel.co.za
* South African National Council for the Blind: www.sancb.org.za
* South African National Organisation for the Deaf: www. deafsa.co.za
* Getting around. Local company SA CAB offers a 24-hour taxi service that is disability, wheelchair and guide dog friendly: www.sacab.co.za.


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