At Verdoro Safaris we believe that every person is entitled to a social right of enjoying safaris irrespective of their abilities or disabilities. That is why PWDs or People with Disabilities can also enjoy tourism by visiting their dream destinations. It is on record that about 15% of the world’s population lives with a kind of disability such as physical disability in mobility, hard of hearing, visual impairment, and also the elderly among others.
Therefore a number of hotels in East Africa especially in Uganda are being encouraged to offer services like rooms that can accommodate people with disabilities, wheelchairs, sign language interpreters among other services in order to make it easy for the traveler to enjoy their safari to the fullest.
Assessing Your Needs as a Traveller
It is not that all special needs or disabled people have the same needs that is why it is so important that you are mindful about your unique condition even as you research about accommodation, travel, safari holidays and the activities that come along with where you want to go. Tourists who are visually impaired or in their hearing might not have the same requirements as the one with limited mobility. Therefore, today different safari operators have increasingly mastered the needs of travelers with limited mobility and other similar disabilities.
As a traveler you should inform them your condition; whether you will need a walker, cane, manual wheelchair or you are permanently confined to using a power chair. As you plan for your safari, ensure that every step of your trip is catered for. From the flight, to the safari vehicle that will transfer you to the sites and throughout the safari. Some vehicles have lifted hydraulic lifts which are helpful to people with limited mobility. On top of this some tour operators offer vehicles with a wheelchair locking system which allows the tourist to remain in their chair. Also a personal caretaker can be offered at the request of the traveller that might require certain medical needs.
It is important for the tourists with extremely limited mobility to put into consideration their needs concerning the sleeping (the type of beds)/sitting and above all hygiene. This is because most lodging facilities in Uganda might not offer wheelchair accessible bathrooms, and in order to make your trip memorable you will somewhat need to be flexible at some point. Bathing is usually one of the main adjustments for any western traveller. Some of the facilities in the tourism destinations are not fully developed, hence some might end up resorting to using buckets or bed baths, which is why you are advised to travel with someone you are comfortable with to assist you.
The people with hearing loss or the Deaf people, also have special needs to consider. Whereas it is very possible for your tour operator to help you get a sign language interpreter on your safari, it might come at an extra cost. However, most tourists come to Uganda for safari with family members or friends, so one of the people you travel with can act as your interpreter while on safari, this may be one of the most economical options.
Traditional African safaris are mainly visually oriented, hence visually impaired tourists will need an extra and unique set of needs. That is why in order for the tour operator to cater for such travellers, they try to use the client’s other senses to recreate all the things they might miss out in the experience. The operators go ahead and use detailed and descriptive explanations as a way of interpreting the experience and painting a picture of the traveler’s surroundings such as landscape and wildlife.
Safaris for visually impaired travellers are usually so different from the standard safaris because travellers even get a chance to get out of the safari vehicle to smell and touch certain things to make their experience remarkable. In fact, visually impaired travellers usually get an all-inclusive experience than those that solely rely on vision.
It is also important to note that in most tourist sites especially national parks, guide dogs or other animals may not be allowed because there are rules and regulations that have been put in place to prevent the spread of disease between animals, and there is also a danger of attracting predators, so it is not allowed to bring animals from outside into the park. Also some travelers are not permitted to put animals on long international flights. But, if the visually impaired travellers listen to their guide and also get enough human assistance, they will enjoy their safari perfectly.
Accommodation is also a major thing to consider as you plan your safari in case you are physically disabled. There are a number of accommodation facilities that offer special needs to these travellers, even some that need to use oxygen tanks.
Gorilla Tracking for People with Disabilities
Gorilla tracking is one of the most common activities tourists engage in while on their visit to Uganda and someone who has physical limitations or is elderly could be wondering whether it is possible for him or her to trek Gorillas. And the answer is yes it is possible, Gorilla trekking is not only for those that are young or energetic you can also have an unforgettable encounter with the mighty giants. In fact most people that track gorillas are above 40 years hence you can never be too old to track gorillas as long as you are allowed to take flights. The only limitation to Gorilla trekking is to children below 15 years and those who are sick.
Today Sedan chairs are available in Bwindi to help those with disabilities to also trek gorillas. Basing on the tour operator you choose to plan your safari, inform them about your condition such that they plan accordingly and that your sedan chair is booked. The hiring of Sedan chairs is paid for separately from the gorilla permits, the cost ranges from USD300 to USD500 and this depends on the weight of the client and distance covered to meet a gorilla family.
The people (porters) that carry disabled clients make sure that the client’s dream of seeing the Mountain Gorillas is met and experienced beyond expectation. People with disabilities are also usually taken to the nearest gorilla families. The sedan chairs are also available in all the four sectors (Ruhija, Rushaga, Buhoma, and Nkuringo) of Bwindi Gorilla National Park. Prior booking is recommended because the chairs are given on a first come first serve basis.
For the elderly people even those above 80 years can successfully trek gorillas in Uganda using Sedan chairs by the help of the porters and ranger guides who are skilled and above all patient with clients. That is why you can't miss out on seeing these mighty giants of the jungle.