In South Africa, Epic Enabled offers an exciting 8-day (7 nights) wheelchair accessible safari through Kruger National Park with a few added days in Cape Town if desired. The tour is open to individuals, friends, families & groups – disabled travellers or not. The affordable price and quality of the safari attracts people from all over. Every trip is carefully thought out to avoid any access problems.
Epic Enabled provides a range of 3 wholesome meals a day while on the safari tour, like stews, pasta, barbeques, traditional African dishes like potjie served in a boma, picnics, etc. Vegetarians and those with special dietary requirements will always have different meals to choose from. Dining in a restaurant is a separate cost. Water all day from the tap and coffee/tea during breakfast and dinner is included but additional beverages are an added fee.
The safari drives take place in the early morning and late afternoon when the animals are most active and run about 2-3 hours long. The first 4 nights are spent in Kruger National Park with the option to do a night safari for an additional fee. Since Kruger National Park is enormous (2 million hectares), the opportunity to see birds and animal life is endless. There are times and areas where animal life and vegetation are quite sparse and others where there is an overabundance. You will get up close with the animals in their natural habitat. “It was fascinating to sit at a water hole and watch the animals interact: zebra and wildebeest drinking together, but always watchful of a pride of lions resting in the shade of a Marula tree” (Moira Lipshaw). “[An elephant] scooped up vegetation with his trunk, pounded the earth with his large feet, and kept us steadily in his glare. The range of emotions I felt as he stepped ever closer will live with me forever” (Penny Batchelor).
The next couple of days are spent at a private game reserve called Tshukudu. The safari drives here are a little more intimate. For starters, the reserve’s smaller 4WD safari vehicle is used. The ranger does his best to give an extra close view of the many elephants, rhinos, jackals, and giraffes who roam the 5000 hectares of reserve – at times even driving over bushes and small trees! Tshukudu’s rangers also carry radios so that they can tip off each other when various animals of interest have been spotted.
The Tshukudu Reserve is well known for its lion breeding program in which some cubs playfully enjoy the presence of people, so you can wheel (or walk) with them. The rangers are incredibly respectful towards these animals and are also alert to any potential signs of danger. This private game reserve has 4 hand-reared cheetah brothers & sisters which love to be stoked and pure like a ‘house-cat’, they also join on walks/wheels.“The opportunity to touch animals that are living and hunting in the natural environment is rare, let alone to sit next to and stroke a purring cheetah” (Moira Lipshaw). Furthermore, while at the Tshukudu Reserve you can pay an added fee to explore and experience the culture of the Shangaan Village or even kiss a hippo.
The Safari Vehicle
Epic Enable Tours travels South Africa with a specially adapted Mercedes Benz truck that has a hydraulic passenger lift. This truck is spacious to maximize your viewing pleasure. It can accommodate up to fifteen passengers, including approximately seven wheelchair users, and is high enough that everyone traveling has excellent views of scenery and wildlife. Many of the seats can be removed if the wheelchair user wishes to remain in his or her chair. The ride is partially bumpy so straps are used to secure the wheelchair and passenger in place. The restraints also come in handy when the driver needs to make an emergency stop because animals have darted onto the road.
If requested, Alfie (tour guide & cook) can carry a commode along with the vehicle, “so there is no anxiety about toilet stops, etc.” (Moira Lipshaw). Plus, he is an accomplished cook and knows when to start cooking. “His truck’s compartments seemed to be veritable treasure troves of the culinary, producing tables, chairs, cooking equipment and heaps of healthy food” (Penny Batchelor).
Epic Enable uses wide a range of fully equipped accessible accommodation. Epic Enable provides a shower-wheelchair/commode which we take on tour as well as a bath swivel seat. If needed, they have additional equipment like hoists, etc.
Within Kruger National Park, the accommodation is in bungalows fitted with ramps and en-suite accessible bathrooms. The shared facilities have wheelchair accessible showers and toilets All the facilities were kept immaculately clean, and fresh soap and towels were provided everywhere on a daily basis.
Both the camps at Satara and Skukuza are barrier-free, including ramps to rondavels (African-style hut) that are equipped with mini kitchens included inside. The large bathrooms have a roll-in shower with a pull-down seat for people who cannot stand. Someone is always on hand to change the static showerhead to a hand-held one if needed. Skukuza is the largest of the camps in Kruger National Park; it is almost a village in itself, complete with a post office, supermarket, internet cafe, and several restaurants. In some places, however, the shop aisles are narrow and difficult to navigate in a wheelchair.
Tshukudu Lodge at the private game reserve is modified because of Epic Enable with wheelchair accessible accommodations, pathways, ramps, and roll-in showers. Their private outdoor seating areas are just the place to relax between the morning and late afternoon wildlife drives as well as an ideal location to watch the monkeys play in the trees. Unlike Kruger National Park’s camps, Tshukudu lodge is fenced by one little wire. “On one occasion I discovered a buffalo calf outside my bungalow – I was later told it was only two days old! Huge porcupines are also known to come out at night and, as the story goes, some previous guests couldn’t come to dinner because of a lion lounging outside their room door. I have to say that I’ve never wheeled so fast in my life as when we heard something scuffling in the bushes during my torchlight jaunt back to my room after dinner” (Penny Batchelor).
Whether you are arriving or leaving Johannesburg, you will need to stay overnight. Willow Park Hotel in Johannesburg has three barrier-free accessible rooms with roll-in showers and couple of rooms with a bath on the ground floor. Both rooms have grab bars near toilet and shower. Epic Enable has a bath seat that swivels for use as well if needed.
The Soweto Township Tour in Johannesburg is at an extra cost and has to be arranged when booking of the other tours. All the attractions on the Township Tour have access ramps but some attractions will have little maneuverability. You may also take a City Centre Drive to see how the locals of South Africa Live or shop at the Bruma Markets. *No meals are included in Johannesburg.
Epic Guest House in Cape Town: This is a very spacious home has four wheelchair accessible room equipped with roll-in showers. There is a common living space that has enough room to maneuver around.
A tour of Cape Town after the Safari can be added for an additional cost. Attractions include: Table Mountain, Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, the Waterfront, wine tasting at the vineyards, and seeing the penguin colony at boulders beach. There are also lots of markets and restaurants in Cape Town as well as the spectacular Ocean Aquarium and boat cruises in the Harbor. *Only breakfast is included in Cape Town.
The two international airports in South Africa that Epic Enable use are Cape Town International Airport (CPT) and the O.R. Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in Johannesburg. A 13-24 hour long flight depending on where you are coming from is expected.
Epic Enable has a Mercedes Benz Sprinter Bus, which is used for airport transfers. Both airport transfers from Johannesburg airport to Willow Park hotel as well as from Cape Town airport to the Epic Guest House are an additional fee.
Every safari through Epic Enable tour starts around 7am so due to the long flight it is advisable to stay in Johannesburg or Cape Town overnight to be refreshed for the several hour journey the following day to Kruger National Park.
Added Transfer Costs
On Epic Enable’s 8-Day Kruger Safari the airport transfer on arrival is at an extra cost. After the safari, you are dropped off for free at the airport or the hotel. A next-day airport transfer from the hotel to the airport would be another charge.
On Epic Enable’s 12-Day Kruger & Cape Town Tour the airport transfer on arrival in Johannesburg and in Cape Town on departure on day 12 is an additional fee.