Travellers with disabilities can get enjoyment out of a holiday to South Africa just as anywhere else. Allowances exist for guide dogs, wheelchair and other mobility aid users, and people with sensory impairments.
Guide dogs are allowed to travel on local South African flights
- South African Airways - In the cabin with their owner. Dog should not take up a seat and be harnessed. Free of charge.
- Comair - In the cabin with their owner. Dog should not take up a seat and be harnessed. Free of charge.
O.R. Tambo International Airport have braille on elevator buttons only in the international terminal; domestic terminal and parkade elevators do not. There are no audio announcement when stopping at any floor. The moving walkway in the domestic terminal have audio announcement on reaching the end of the walkway, but not before entering it.
Some of the larger car rental companies can supply vehicles with paraplegic hand controls
- Avis, ☏ . From Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria. Booking must be made at least 72 hours in advance. No extra cost.
- Budget, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Requires prior arrangement via reservations. From Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town. No extra cost.
Both powered and non-powered wheelchairs can be rented
Most shopping centres have wide marked disabled parking close to the entrances.
Money templates and coin selectors can be purchased from the South African National Council for the Blind.
South African banknotes are progressively larger in larger denominations.
New banknotes have raised diamond shapes in the middle of the bottom half of each note for tactile identification. A R10 note has one, a R20 note has two, a R50 rand note has three, a R100 note has four and a R200 note has 5. They also have large geometric shapes on the front for easy identification by people with partial sight. The R10 note has a diamond, the R20 a square, the R50 a circle, the R100 a hexagon and the R200 a honeycomb hexagon.
Be aware that a lot of older notes without these features are still in circulation
Since many of South Africa's attractions are provided by nature, easy access can be a problem. There are however a number of places that provide specifically for the disabled traveller:
- Table Mountain, Tafelberg Road, Cape Town, ☏ . The lower station provides disabled parking close to the lifts and have toilets for wheelchair users. The cable car can be boarded easily by wheelchair and guide dogs are welcome aboard. On top of the mountain there is about 2km of walkways that can easily be explored in a wheelchair (ask for a wheelchair map when buying your cable car tickets) and all but two of the viewpoints are accessible. The restaurant is wheelchair friendly and wheelchair toilet facilities are provided. The weather at the top of the mountain can be dramatically different from that at the lower cable station, when it is 32C in Cape Town it may only be 16C on top of the mountain. Take a jacket and something to cover your legs if you are in a wheelchair.
- Restaurants. Most restaurants in and around Cape Town are wheelchair friendly and happy to accommodate wheelchair users. However, even restaurants who describe themselves as wheelchair friendly, do not necessarily have accessible toilets. Specifically check to ensure that toilets are accessible. One more thing, very few wheelchair friendly toilets in Cape Town have mirrors, and those that do, are often too high for a seated person to use. This includes Cape Town International Airport, so if you want to touch up your make-up, keep a compact mirror in your handbag. Examples of accessible restaurants are the Lookout Deck in Hout Bay. There is an accessible toilet, but the door is difficult to close with a wheelchair inside. The Dros Restaurant at Willowbridge has a spacious toilet for wheelchair patrons, but again, no mirror. Shopping Centres such as Tygervalley, are accessible, but without mirrors. The reasoning is a mystery.
- Live shows.The Artscape Theatre and the Baxter Theatre are completely accessible. At the Baxter Theatre, parking and wheelchair access is available at the back entrance. The Barnyard Theatre is also accessible, but book early because there is limited space for wheelchairs. Wheelchair users who want to attend a show at Cape Town stadium in Green Point, are advised to book early since space for wheelchair users and their companions is limited. If you experience problems when trying to book through booking agents - such as not being able to book with your walking companions - contact stadium management directly.
- Nature Reserves. The following nature reserves in and around Cape Town have wheelchair friendly trails and toilets: Helderberg Nature Reserve; Tygerberg Nature Reserve; Rondevlei Nature Reserve; Blaauwberg Nature Reserve has wheelchair friendly toilets, but not trails. Tokai forest and arboretum on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is an accessible haven of tranquility. However, be warned, the trails are rather steep, so you need to be fit to access the trails in a wheelchair. Wiesenhof Wildpark near Stellenbosch is accessible to day visitors and has a wheelchair friendly chalet. Gamkaskloof have wheelchair friendly cottages.
- Durban beaches, ☏ (Ocean Braai), (uShaka). QuadPara provides beach wheelchairs with wide wheels that can easily be pushed over sand and even into the water. The wheelchairs can be found at the Ocean Braai restaurant on the North Beach and uShaka Surf & Adventures on the South Beach in Durban. No usage charge.
- 1 Voortrekker Monument, Eeufees Road, Groenkloof (On Proclamation Hill, big cubic building, to the south west of the city, you can't miss it), ☏ . There is ramp access to the entrance (use the pathways through the gardens) and the monument is fitted with two lifts. One to access the Museum on the lower level and another to access the outside viewpoints at the top. Access to the top of the dome requires the climbing of stairs. R32 per person.
- FrancolinHof Guest House, 44 10th Avenue, Voëlklip, Hermanus, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in the Western Cape town of Hermanus this four star guest house is the first to receive a Gold rating for Accessibility. Ask for the Weaverbird Room From R410 per person, discounted in winter.
- Karin Coetzee. Occupational Therapist gives information and pictures of wheelchair accessible accommodation in South Africa
In August 2007 the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa introduced a Universal Accessibility Scheme with four levels each in Mobility, Hearing and Visual categories. Though not many establishments have yet been rated according to this scheme, there are a number that will be during 2008.
These tour operators specialize in providing tours specifically designed for the disabled.
- Rolling SA. Tours for wheelchair bound individuals.
- Endeavour Safaris, 23 Lark crescent, Tableview, Cape Town, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Specializing in accessible travel for people with restricted mobility, visual and hearing impairments, oxygen-users and kidney dialysis dependent individuals.
- Epic Enabled, 14 Clovelly Road, Cape Town, South Africa, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Accessible wheelchair & family friendly camping safari holidays for disabled travellers to the Kruger Park, Garden Route & day tours in Johannesburg & Cape Town in South Africa. Everybody is welcome
- Access2africa Safaris: Accessible wheelchair friendly, deaf, blind, slow walkers safaris and tours in South Africa. Specialise in Kwazulu Natal, Elephant Coast and Zululand safaris and adventure tours.www.access2africasafaris.co.za email:email@example.com . Phone 0027842642194
- South African National Council for the Blind, 514 White Street, Bailey's Muckleneuk, Pretoria, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- South African Guide Dogs Association, 126 Wroxham Road, Rietfontein, Sandton, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Deaf Federation of South Africa, 20 Napier Road, Richmond, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- QuadPara Association of South Africa, 25 Hamilton Crescent, Gillitts, Durban, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- The National Counsel for People with Physical Disabilities in South Africa, 4 Lancaster Rd, Westdene, Johannesburg, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep the following in mind when travelling with or meeting a fellow traveller that happens to be disabled
- There is no need to talk loudly or slowly to a blind person, they can hear you well enough.
- Do not pat or otherwise distract a guide dog without first asking the owner's permission.
- Though ignorance, laziness and arrogance probably can be classified as disabilities, they are self-inflicted and does not qualify one to occupy a disabled parking space. These parking spaces are reserved to make it easier for someone in a wheelchair to enter and exit a vehicle.
- People all have varied interests and once practicalities have been taken care off a person's disability is seldom the most important thing in their life. Someone in a wheelchair may prefer to spend the day at a bird sanctuary rather than attend a wheelchair race, a blind person might prefer discussing the local culture and history of a town rather than the absence of braille on the museum exhibits.
- Most people rarely give a second thought to toilets because they are always there and easy to use, but for a disabled person using a standard toilet can be very difficult or even impossible. Check on toilet facilities before planning an outing.
- Be practical. Do not expect a blind person to enjoy an afternoon of birdwatching or someone in a wheelchair to go down the Sterkfontein Caves.