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Safari In South Africa

My Wheelchair Accessible South African Safari – Sept 2018 by Sandra Williams

10 days South Africa Safari - Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve and Isimangaliso Wetland Park

On the Spinal Life Peer Support website I came across some photos from a lady, Alma, about her trip to South Africa. She had enjoyed an accessible wheelchair friendly Safari with Access2Africa Safaris. 

I was very impressed. That was 2 years ago and I thought if Alma can do it so can I.  I booked my trip and then sorted out the details. 

Access2Africa Safaris ( is a well organized operator who specializes in accessible safaris in South Africa for guests with mobility, vision or hearing challenges. All are welcome including friends and families. I can honestly say it was the best and the most organized holiday I have ever been on. 

I was collected at the airport at the beginning and then returned when it is time to depart. 

Their staff were lovely and we were all very well cared for. Their fleet of accessible wheelchair friendly vehicles was great, all air conditioned, and equipped with ramps. There was plenty of room for us all. If I preferred , one of the guides would pick me up and whisk me into the front seat. Wow. 

One young lady who is a wheelchair user wanted to put her feet in the Indian Ocean at a special viewpoint at the Isimangaliso Wetland Park. Her guide lifted her up and carried her down to the water’s edge.  She was so excited and thrilled! Wheeled people seldom get to enjoy such pleasures as we tend to become bogged! 

We started off at a magnificent Lodge in Durban where stayed 3 nights, we had the run of 30 acres of beautiful landscaped grounds where we could unwind and get over our jetlag.  There were 21 of us, 5 in wheelchairs.  I found my new friends delightful to be with and enjoyed talking with people who did not judge me because I was sitting down!

Wonderfull lodges in the South

 We had an outing before we left Durban. There is a wonderful aquarium made from an old ship and we could fish, sharks, etc. from all sides of the vessel. You could even go swimming with the sharks. A huge bonus at this Durban Beachfront was the lovely accessible beach mat and beach wheelchairs that go up to the sea and water. 

There was a bit of shopping time so some of us managed a bargain or two.

Meet the Wildlife

 The next day we headed to the Hluhluwe/ Umfolozi Game Park and Nature Reserve. This is South Africa’s second largest Big Five Game Reserve and is based in Isimangalsio Wetland Park, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.  Upon arrival I was blown away by plenty of wildlife sightings and photography was excellent.

Open range accessible by wheelchair

 Our accessible lodge was on a high hill with the chalets spread along the top. These had beautiful expansive views down in to the valley. We all spent many hours exploring the game park. One early morning we were in the open park vehicle and quietly parked near a herd of elephant. Our field guide said they were there, although we could not see any of them. But soon there was the sound of breaking branches and movement. Eventually one female elephant slowly emerged from the undergrowth and wandered off, soon to be followed by several others, one at a time and quietly.

It was lovely there in the shade, the sounds of unfamiliar birds, and the scent of unknown plants, combined with the gentle stillness, it belied the animals concealed in this magnificent reserve.  Slowly the matriarch emerged, she was twice the size of the previous elephants. She gave us a long look, decided we were not dangerous (thank goodness) and wandered off with her herd. 

When I returned to my thatched villa that day (with a wheelchair friendly bathroom!) there were 5 Nyala grazing on my entry way and when I ventured inside I could see there were two buffalos snoozing on the hill opposite, being carefully groomed by little birds. Bliss! 

We all went for an early morning accessible open safari game drive on the big open air trucks although the temperature was cooler we were all very excited.  We saw more herds of elephant, rhinos, buffalos and buck of all descriptions. What more could we want! 

After 3 beautiful days and many hours of observing the animals there we left and headed east. We visited a school situated in a Zulu Rural Region for disabled children from disadvantaged backgrounds which was an eye opener. 

We also had a fantastic adventure meeting and feeding wild elephants. What a magnificent experience. There were three wild elephants, the biggest one a tusked bull. I stroked his trunk, his tusks, his tongue.  He was beautiful, and all the time we scooped pellets into his trunk. If you were not paying enough attention to the trunk he flicked a little mud in your direction. As I felt his rough skin I wondered if moisturizer would be helpful. It was a magical day and one I will never forget.


One of our activities was a visit to a Cheetah and Wild African Cat Reserve, along with caracals and servals.  We could get up close and personal with the cheetahs!  I was the centre of attention for one of the cheetahs, thankfully not in the paddock we were aiming for, she followed me everywhere and stared in my eyes.  I learned later that the cheetahs are fed from a red trolley, and as my scooter was red I was the original meals on wheels. 

There were some bigger cats called caracals, with black ears and a beautiful light tan and cream color. The male of the group sat wonderfully relaxed with his front paws crossed. 

The servals were next and were spotted quite like cheetahs, but much smaller.  The pair in one enclosure contained a female who lived in a large tree. Her coloring blended almost perfectly with the tree and I took a little while to find her.  She was fed there too. The male had a problem with climbing trees; he had fallen out three times so he enjoyed the whole enclosure. The female was safe and happy in the tree.

View on St.Lucia at the Coast

 Our final stop with three nights stay was St. Lucia, a beautiful little town on the coast.  We enjoyed a safari boat ride with close sightings of hippos, crocodiles and birds such as Fish Eagles. Getting the reclining wheelchair onto the boat was no mean feat. (Accessibility with ramps is dependent on water levels) But nobody missed out on anything and everyone boarded the boat… We were delighted and enthralled by the hippos and enjoyed seeing the other wildlife. The Lake is not very deep so the baby hippos stand on their mothers’ backs until they are big enough to stand in the lake alone.  The weaver birds amazed me with their intricately woven nests and their bright colors. What further delighted me was one evening we watched the hippos grazing in the park opposite our accommodation. Dave our guide moved his van and shone his headlights on them.  They were not concerned at all. There are even a signs on entering some roads in St Lucia to alert visitors to their nocturnal habits.

To summarize my South African Safari

I did not want to come home; I had such a good time with new friends, great accommodation, wonderful food, fabulous service and assistance.  Each room had its own accessible bathroom, and a balcony. Spending time in the same place for a few days each time made it much more relaxing and enjoyable 

Written by  Sandra Williams, Australia 

Traveled September 2018 with Access2africa Safaris 

Email –


Jennae Bezuidenhout (CEO) 

Access2africa Safaris 


instagram: access2africa_safaris 

Cell: 002725854127, 

Skype: Jennae12,

Po Box 159 Hluhluwe,  Kwazulu Natal,  South Africa 

Lilizela South African Tourism Awards 2016 – National Winners 

Tour Operator Emerging South Africa 

Tour Operator  Universal Accessibility General, Mobility and Hearing

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