This guest post is written by Brooke Berlin of Karoo Consulting
26 July is the anniversary of President George H.W. Bush signing into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. However, no matter where in the world you live, at the end of the day, what it comes down to is having an awareness that everyone should be enabled to travel and to experience the wonders of the world in a respectful, honourable, and caring way.
It is important to have conversations about what it means to travel anywhere, at any time, at any age. And regardless of age, there are countless travellers who need something extra to make their journey possible: travellers with mobility limitations, sight and sound assistance requirements, or conditions or illnesses that warrant privacy.
Our mission is to make Africa Accessible to All, and yet we realize some places are better set up to cater to travellers with more personal needs than others. Each of our properties will of course welcome your guests and make a plan with enough advanced notice, and we also want to highlight some choices that are especially geared to care for guests who have special requirements.
Even though some people find it hard to believe, Africa is very well geared for travellers with mobility issues. We have worked with elderly travellers who are not very stable on their feet, clients with visually- and hearing-impaired family members, guests who have travelled with quadriplegic family members, and more. Our team is set up to work with any special request your clients have on a case-by-case basis, making the overall itinerary and experience personally tailored so that they have the most magical time on our warm and welcoming continent.
We have a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine on property available upon request, and when it comes to a CPAP machine, similarly to many properties in Southern Africa, certainty comes with caution. Tongabezi Lodge has 24-hour electricity, and if it happens that the main grid goes out, our standby generators will kick in and provide electricity within a five-minute interval.
We recently had a guest with a sight impairment and allocated a private guide who was extremely seasoned with bird calls so that with each bird they came across he could whistle the bird’s song. And last year Tongabezi hosted a family from the UK on their second safari to Africa, and they were so moved by the experience that they wrote this article for the Telegraph. Part of what makes it so impactful is that they mention travelling with their children, one of whom has autism.
Each of the other Green Safaris’ properties has specific guest units designated for people with reduced mobility and, based upon the minimum number of rooms booked and availably private vehicles, can be booked too. All properties also have various solutions for individuals with reduced mobility to access vehicles, however not all properties can offer boat access so please do check ahead. CPAP machines can be brought to any property as they all have 24-hour power in the rooms.
Other specific examples of how privacy can be achieved are that Kaya Mawa has Ndomo House and Tongabezi has Tangala House. And of course, we happily take guidance from the family or friends of the traveller who needs extra assistance and do our best to make their stay a memorable one. We are most excited to share that the new Chisa Busanga Camp has one Bird’s Nest unit with an elevator, so again, accessible to all. Check it out on this blog’s feature image.
For charter flights, on a case-by-case basis depending on the extent of the request (such as, if a passenger is travelling with their own wheelchair or not, if the destination is equipped to offload the traveller, how many people are on the charter, what the routing is) we are able to accommodate passengers with wheelchairs. We can be very flexible with charter flights and can send our own ground staff with the charter to assist at the destination with boarding and disembarking.
Most of our charter aircraft can accommodate wheelchairs except for the Baron where access is over the wing and therefore not recommended for persons with limited mobility. We have a specific manifest for any passenger with a special need, which we classify as either ‘self-reliant’ or ‘non-self-reliant’, which contains information on anything from unaccompanied minors to pregnant women to guests with a physical or sensory impairment.