There are more people with disabilities per head of population in Africa than in the West, but wheelchair facilities are virtually nonexistent. Don't expect things like wheelchair ramps, signs in Braille, or any other facilities that are available in tourist areas in other parts of the world. Most travellers with disabilities find travel much easier with the assistance of an able-bodied companion, or with an organised tour through an operator that specialises in arranging travel for those with disabilities. Safaris in South Africa and diving holidays in Egypt are both easily arranged with companies like these.
A final factor to remember, which goes some way to making up for the lack of facilities, is the friendliness and accommodating attitude of the African people. In the majority of situations, they will be more than happy to help if you explain to them exactly what you need.
Resources & Organisations
Before setting out for Africa, travellers with disabilities should consider contacting any of the following organisations, which may be able to help you with advice and assistance:
- Access-Able Travel Source (www.access-able.com) US-based site providing information on disabled-friendly tours and hotels.
- Accessible Travel & Leisure (www.accessibletravel.co.uk) Claims to be the biggest UK travel agent dealing with travel for people with a disability, and encourages independent travel.
- Endeavour Safaris (www.endeavour-safaris.com) Focuses on Southern Africa.
- Epic Enabled (www.epic-enabled.com) Trips in Southern Africa for people with disabilities.
- Mobility International USA (www.miusa.org) In the US, it advises disabled travellers on mobility issues; it primarily runs educational exchange programs, and some include African travel.
- Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (www.sath.org) In the US; offers assistance and advice.
- Tourism for All (www.tourismforall.org.uk) Click on its 'Overseas Travel' page for links, although there's little of interest for travellers.
You can also download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.