Guest Author - Jeanetta Polenske
Safari! Who hasnít had the desire to do that? Kruger National Park in South Africa has become a top spot for the greatest in accessible wildlife tours. Several tours are available to visitors with disabilities with a number of accommodations and activities offered.
The Park is enormous, almost 5 million acres, with the largest variety of plant and animals in the world. It was established in 1898 to protect its environment and has become a leader in the management of its natural resources.
The number of species represented in the park is remarkable. There are 336 varieties of trees, 49 species of fish, 34 of amphibian, 114 of reptiles, 507 types of birds and 147 kinds of mammals. In addition, the park contains ancient rock paintings and incredible archaeological sites.
Many destinations within the park are accessible and people with disabilities are frequent visitors at the park. There are approximately 53 accommodations in the park with a number of accessible bathrooms.
There are ramps, boardwalks, trails, and picnic sites made accessible for those with mobility challenges. The park offers many opportunities for people with mental, sensory and physical disabilities, but it has not been possible to modify every aspect of the park considering the environment and the need to maintain its natural form.
Guide dogs are not allowed in the park for the vision impaired. Danger from wild animals and diseases carried by pets pose great risk to the natural wildlife. At this time, there are no special accommodations for the hearing impaired, but the beauty of the park can still be enjoyed by other senses or personal assistive devices.
Kruger Park is an internationally noted game park with beautiful views. Photographers will enjoy the unique flora and incredible wildlife. Some tours offer accessible safari trucks and camping equipment that has been specifically modified to accommodate people with disabilities. There are also a wide variety of hotels and bungalows.
What types of tours are available? In addition to driving through the country, there is a private game reserve with a lion-breeding project and a program that reintroduces animals back to the wild. The lions can be viewed up close as well as other wild animals. Tour a village and eat a traditional meal around a fire at night.
In the right season, Antarctic whales enter Walker Bay to calve. There are rolling hills filled with apple and pear orchards. Outeniqua Pass is a renowned area for ostrich farming. The garden tour runs along 50 miles of coastline with views of whales, dolphins and otters. Take a stroll through the forest, filled with the array of plant life and birds.
If a safari is your idea of a vacation, this sounds like a great location to start with. The variety of sites and activities is huge and many of those areas have been made accessible for people with disabilities. Careful planning is required, but the experience seems well worth the effort.