From bungee jumping off bridges to hiking the tallest peaks, many travelers set out on their journeys looking for adventure in the outdoors, and those with mobility limitations are no exception. Whether you’re looking for activities that are accessible to groups of varying abilities or setting off on a solo journey as a traveler with impaired mobility, these adventures welcome everyone.
Hit the slopes in Park City, Utah
If you prefer snow to the tropics, then Park City, Utah is the perfect spot for your next vacation. The Park City Mountain Resort has an adaptive ski program that includes adaptive ski equipment and certified instructors made available through a partnership between the National Ability Center and Vail Resorts EpicPromise. Instructors are qualified to teach the skills necessary for multiple types of adaptive skiing, including 3-track, 4-track, mono-ski, bi-ski and more.
“Skiing and snowboarding are so much about experiencing an adventure and spending quality time outdoors with family and friends,” says Whitney Thompson, senior marketing manager at the National Ability Center. “Drawing from decades of experience and using specialized equipment, techniques, teaching methods and the support of volunteers, instructors are focused on empowering people to get active and outside with friends and family.”
Take in the scenery at Iguazú Falls
Adventurers in Argentina and Brazil shouldn’t skip a visit to the breathtaking Iguazú Falls, a chain of waterfalls that spans the border between the two countries, surrounded by lush, green rainforest. The park is well-equipped for those traveling in wheelchairs or with otherwise limited mobility, with wide, well-tended walkways that allow easy access to the falls. There are also electric carts available at no charge for those who need additional assistance – just talk to a staff member when you purchase your ticket.
Explore New Mexico by bike
From Breaking Bad fans to oenophiles to those who just want to take in the scenery, there’s a tour for every type of traveler with Routes Rentals, an Albuquerque-based company that strives to make all of its offerings available to those with limited mobility. Owners Heather and Josh Arnold believe strongly in inclusivity and that everyone should have the opportunity for adventure, so they provide myriad options for riders, including guided tandem bikes, recumbent bikes, electric bikes and tricycles, among others.
Kayak through the mangroves in Qatar
For Middle East exploration that goes beyond the desert, jump in a kayak to see an entirely new side of Qatar. Wheel the World, an accessible travel company, takes visitors from Doha to Unesco World Heritage site Al Zubarah, and finally to a kayaking excursion in the Al Thakhira nature reserve, where paddlers will drift between the mangroves and see the area’s animal life, including fish, birds and crabs. “Traveling should be for everyone – there are millions of people with disabilities that want to get out and discover our planet, and it is not only them but their friends and family too. At Wheel the World our dream is to allow millions of people with disabilities to travel to thousands of destinations,” says Chief Partnerships Officer, Arturo Gaona.
Hike the Austrian Alps
Alpine adventures are accessible to all types of travelers if you know where to go. Tyrol, one of the most popular regions for hiking in Austria, has multiple trails that can be easily traversed in a wheelchair. Visitors can explore the paved path circling Lake Achensee, the largest lake in the region, or hike along the Kalser Bach river from Arnig to the village of Großdorf. Many trails also have bars and restaurants along the way, so you can stop for a snack as you take in the incredible views.
Explore the treetops in Nebraska
If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing the world from a squirrel’s eye view, the Treetop Village at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska is the place to be. With three acres of bridges and lookouts suspended in the treetops, the whole family can enjoy some time off the ground. The suspension bridge leading to the main viewing platform is wheelchair accessible. From there you can explore the other gazebos, bridges and more that are specifically designed to be available to visitors of all abilities. Those who are able can also experience the WonderNet, a trampoline-like net that lets you bounce and fly safely among the branches.
Take in the scenery on safari
Explore Africa’s deserts, grasslands, forests and more with Endeavour Safaris, a Botswana-based company that promises that “no matter the difficulties or barriers, we will find a way around this and ensure the opportunities are there for you to decide the level of adventure you prefer.” Endeavour runs trips in several countries, all of which have a range of activities for every level of mobility. See the sand dunes of Namibia, sip wine in a South African vineyard, or observe the wildlife in Botswana – you’ll never run out of adventures here.
Kayak on Lake Wanaka in New Zealand
Travelers in the southern hemisphere who like to get out on the water will want to head to New Zealand, where Paddle Wanaka is primed to help everyone experience the incredible natural beauty of this tiny nation. “Our aim, for everyone, is to get people out kayaking with friends and family and enjoy the lake,” says Charlie Ives, operations manager for Paddle Wanaka. The team works with each individual to determine if and how they can safely participate in kayaking trips. Modifications that can be made to the kayaks include back and seat support, hand straps for paddles, and mini outrigger floats. On guided trips, the organization can also offer spray skirts (and therefore more trunk support), and the trained guide will be there to offer support and safety.
You may also like:
Download Lonely Planet's Accessible Travel Online Resources (2019 edition) for free.