As we drove along the road to Tshokwane something magical happened. Something all visitors to Kruger Park want to see. We saw five male lions in the road. All of them adult lions.
Lions with thick, shiny manes and enormous feet that are as big as a small dog. Avid nature lovers will tell you, you haven’t seen a lion if you haven’t seen it up close yet. Where you can look it in the eyes, where is like a half a meter away from you. I know now how Pumba and Timon must have felt when they saw Simba first time they met him.
Annual Visitor to Kruger Park
That was me. In the Kruger National Park in South Africa. I am an annual visitor to the park with my family. We always go camping with the caravan. It has always been part of our family even when my dad was a kid. I am a big fan of the Park. It is my favourite place in the world. After Kings Park in Durban. I definitely won’t ask them to PAYBACKTHEMONEY!!!
A View from a Wheelchair
But there is only one problem. I am in a wheelchair. I am disabled. So as a disabled it means I can see the world at a different point of view. I can also experience the Kruger Wheelchair access and criticize their Faults. Freedom of Expression people.
It is the July Holiday. There are a lot of people, there are many cars when we see predators, the camps are full, many people from Gauteng, a lot of drinking, a lot of campfires. You get the picture?
Staying at Skukuza Camp
This year I am staying at Skukuza. I have my own tent. Our camp is near the bathroom. To and from the bathroom I have to go over an unpaved road with rocks and potholes. But unlike other wheelchairs mine was built to do that. It is almost a mountainbike/wheelchair.
No Wheelchair Access at the Ablution Block
Unfortunately they don’t have at that bathroom wheelchair access but there are other bathrooms that do has it. So I have have to manouvere my way into and adapt. But I don’t mind. A Boer maak n plan. I might have a way find my way over those obstacles but I can’t imagine anybody else does. I’m not a normal bloke that is dependent on his wheelchair.
Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom
I am not one for complaining, but maybe they can build an accessible wheelchair bathroom for those that’s needs to use it. Maybe ask the people of Nkandla for financial support.
The bathrooms at the shops, retaurants and visitors area get an A plus in my book. The bathrooms are big, accessible and is exactly as it should be. There are no obstacles involved and is easy to use. Well done!
Two Week Holiday in Kruger Park
In my two week holiday at Kruger I have visited a number of camps, Satara, Lower Sabie, Krodilbrug, Pretoriuskop, Olifants.
All their bathrooms are up to standard. I don’t have complains. I know from previous experience that the bathrooms at the Satara camping ground are up to scratch. It is very nice. It has a shower where you can roll your wheelchair under, it has an accessible sink, wheelchair friendly toilet, a-low place blow dryer and its big so you can roll your wheels around. The only bad thing is when couples think it’s a place to visit their conjugal rights. Not a pretty picture. At Skukuza and Lower Sabie there is a path that leads parallel along the river. A wheelchair will easy be able to move along that road.
For Camping, Adapt to your Needs
If you want to go camping you will have to adapt to your needs. You will have make it as easy and comfortable as possible for you. What I did I set my tent near braai area so that I can be nearby, in my tent I maybe I have everything nearby that I use or might need.
I am sure the people at Outdoor Warehouse and Campworld will be able to help you with anything that you desire. Ask at the Jurgens or Sprite Caravans should you decide to stay in a caravan and you would like to make it wheelchair friendly.
If you need to stay in a bungalow or guest house inside the park most of them are wheelchair accessible. Just take someone along if there is a small obstacle like a step to overcome.
Medical Personnel at Hand
Medical personal is nearby and the doctor is ready at Skukuza should an emergency arise. Just notify staff attendants. I remember one year my Grandpa had an heart attack at Satara.
It was in the middle of the night. They had to take him to Nelspruit(Mbombela today) because he had big heart problems my gran had to sit with him inside and to this day she keeps saying the ambulance door would close probably, she was so scared something would reach through the opening and grab them, because they were vulnerable in predator country. And she had reason to worry. My dad who drove in front of the ambulance with his Ford bakkie said he never saw so many lions and hyenas in the road!!
Access to Shops and Restaurants in Kruger
Access to their shops and restaurants are accessible. We can move around, there is enough space to handle the space of a wheelchair and pop a wheelie or a donut, there are ramps and no steps. Clearly they have planned for us.
Picnic places in the middle of the bush like Tshokwane, Afsaal, Nkulu, Timbavati are wheelchair accessible with wheelchair bathrooms. But to move around can be tricky.
There are ramps, but that’s all. Inside the shops are accessible but let’s say you want to have a picnic at the tables under the trees you will have to grit your teeth because you will have to move around on natural soil. There are no pavements available. Just remember if a leopard or an elephant comes along you can’t run away like the others. Haha, but seriously it can happen.
Accessible Lookout Points
As you take a drive along the various roads you will get these lookout points on a hill or a hideaway where you can watch for animals or a memorial for some ranger or donor where you can climb out to have a look. They are all different . they are mostly all accessible and with a wheelchair and help of others you will be fine. If you are not sure, because you can’t see around the corner, better let someone else go have a look and report back.
Don’t make same mistake we did a couple year ago. We wanted to climb out at a waterhole where you are permitted to when a lioness and her cubs came out of the bush, they were walking straight at us. And I’m sure you know, a mother is very protective of her cubs. Still this day I still don’t know what would happened if I was out of the car and in the chair.
Kruger Park Facebook Page
On a Kruger Park Facebook page I have posted a question: Are you happy with the disability access in the park? The response I received was limited. Only two people replied, both of them wished to keep their identities hidden. One lady said her brother had a disability and was a frequent visitors at the park till his death.
Another lady from the UK replied she too had a disability and whenever she cans she comes down to visit the park. One year I remember seeing Afrikaans singer Mathys Roets who is in a wheelchair because of a motorcycle accident. Clearly I am not the only of my species to visit this wonderful place.
All Things in Life are Worth the Trouble
As I asked around I came to the conclusion that people with disabilities are scared to visit. Why? Don’t be. All things in life are worth the trouble. If you can set your mind to it, do it. It is as easy as that. Don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way.
The park caters for other with disabilities too. Blind people for example on a nametag of a tree or plant you can see braille so that people with eye disabilities also can “read”.
The workers and attendants are friendly and diligent workers. If you need help, I am sure they would be able help you.
Further it is a big pleasure to be in this place. I love to see everything it has to offer. Every bird, shrub, tree, mammal and people.
This place has the ability to heal your pain and trauma and renews your spirit and strength. This place makes you realize what is important in life. Money can’t buy this. It makes you appreciate life as it should be. I hope it helps you and inspire you to Carpe Diem, Seize the Day and makes the trip from wherever you are. Even if you are different it doesn’t mean you can stop living!!!
Don’t wait any longer.
See a Map of Kruger Park and Plan your trip.