Divya is an engineer turned writer. She is a seasoned freelancer who loves writing about food, travel, and lifestyle.
Accessible Travel For All
They say wanderlust is for the free-spirited. However, you may be fee-spirited and disabled, making traveling quite challenging. But it’s not something totally out of the question! Not so long ago, there were not really any options available to go around the world if you were in a wheelchair, but thanks to modernization, adventure and sporting opportunities are more accessible for people with special needs.
From riding a camel to skiing, several travel companies are adding wheelchair-friendly itineraries as more destinations across the planet improve how they cater to travelers with disabilities.
Here are a few adrenaline-pumping and still accessible experiences from around the world!
Hot-Air Ballooning in Catalonia
Imagine you are in the gondola (the basket) soaring above the striking landscape of Catalonia’s La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. Tucked at the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees and less than a three-hour drive from Barcelona, this National Park is spectacular natural beauty featuring ancient dormant volcanoes, Roman-era landmarks, and accessible hiking trails.
On a bright cloudless day, one can soak up the spellbinding panoramic views that stretch as far as the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees Mountains as the winds boost and carry the basket up to 6,500 feet in the air.
Some hot-air balloon companies, like Vol de Coloms, now offer the unique experience of flying high in a large basket, but one that is specially adapted for less-mobile older people and those in wheelchairs. Traditionally, hot air balloon baskets did not have a door making them inaccessible to those with mobility limitations.
Vol de Coloms has introduced a gondola that has a door, giving wheelchair users room to wheel right in. Roll into the basket, and soon you'll be able to experience the most exhilarating flight. You can enjoy a sense of freedom and tranquility while floating through the air.
Camel Rides in Morocco
The rolling dunes of the Sahara are some of nature’s most exquisite sites, and riding a camel across them in Morocco is the ultimate bucket-list experience. Alongside engaging and bonding with the camel, the riding experience offers you a different view of the world.
Sitting atop a camel enables you to spot things that you usually see from the ground—from gawking at birds in the sky and patterns on the sand to the surprisingly beautiful landscape, breath-taking sunrises and sunsets. However, riding a camel has long been out of reach for travelers with less or no mobility.
Nevertheless, Morocco Accessible Travel consultants vowed to change those circumstances and are now using a custom saddle that imitates the action of a wheelchair but on the animal’s back. They have curated special itineraries for older people and people with less mobility.
They now provide transportation with ramps for rolling up in the wheelchair and personally evaluate accommodations for accessible settings. They make sure those pushing the wheelchair can seamlessly navigate the technology as well. There's even an adaptive camel saddle with a backrest and headrest to provide comfort and support while trekking across the dunes.
Check out this link to see their accessible itineraries. There are several options of varying length that cover everything from coastlines to imperial cities and desert camps.
Zip Lining in Costa Rica
While there are numerous destinations to embrace an adventurous vacation, Costa Rica tops the list, and zip lining is its close synonym. The country’s zip-lining experience is one of the most talked about adventures in the world because of the country's dense and lush rainforests and striking landscapes.
A variety of places offer numerous types of zip lining experiences. Some go through beautiful National Parks, others by scintillating waterfalls, next to stunning volcanoes, and even over the glistering ocean. The travelers on the zip line can take in the awe-inspiring scenery below. There is something for almost every potential rider. Even if you aren't a thrill seeker, zip-lining is an absolute must in Costa Rica.
Travel agencies like Il Viaggio, Wheel the World, and Responsible Travel curate a comprehensive itinerary for some of the best wheelchair-accessible experiences. The travel agencies usher the less mobile travelers to move across the suspended bridges and muddy pathways to reach the zip-lining location(s).
Some zip lining companies have a regular wheelchair fastened to the zip line, while others have an experienced guide join you through the ride. Then, all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the ride through the magical landscape.
Note: Some of the links provided above give even more opportunities for accessible travel outside of Costa Rica!
Scuba Diving in the Red Sea, Egypt
With warm and clear waters, teeming marine life, and a bevy of historic wrecks, the Red Sea is considered one of the seven wonders of the underwater world. Egypt’s Eastern Coast is one of the world’s top scuba diving destinations for its idyllic weather conditions, spectacular reefs, bucket list animals, submarine sinkhole Dahab Blue Hole, shipwrecks and incredible liveaboards.
The best part is everything is budget-friendly. And scuba diving gives people with less to no mobility a perfect opportunity to indulge in something new and exciting.
Several accessibility adventure companies located in the resort town of Marsa Alam thrive on rendering these experiences to the enthusiastic traveler. They employ authorized and certified trainers by the Egyptian government and the International Association for Handicapped Divers (IAHD) to teach and assist paraplegic adventurers in getting under the water.
Snow Skiing or Sit-Skiing in Whistler, Canada
North America’s biggest ski resort, Whistler Blackcomb, is tantamount to, you guess it, skiing! With two big, interconnected mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb allure travelers from all over the world. They come for Whistler’s steep, rolling, twisting trail skiing and Blackcomb’s epic fall line.
The Whistler Adaptive Sports Program is a not-for-profit society that provides year-round recreational programs for athletes and amateurs of all ages with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. The summer classes include training in kayaking, canoeing, and rowing on the Alta Lake, and the winter programs have sit-skiing, snowboarding, and alpine racing.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Divya Shivaji