When thinking of where to travel, a safari in Africa comes in fairly low on the list for those of us with assisted traveller needs. This is perfectly understandable – given the vast distances, the remoteness of some our destinations. However, with the right level support, it is our experience that anyone, whatever their needs, can travel to Africa.
While it is neither right nor proper to share the experiences of specific clients without their express permission, I know that we have over the years arranged trips for a range of travellers with very specific needs. These include travellers with diabetes, sleep apnoea, and mobility issues, those that have required the support of the likes of dialysis machines, and still those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, need a regime of special care, and a highly responsive emergency support network.
The key here, of course, is the right level of support. Whether logistically or in terms of reassurance, this means understanding a client’s particular needs and wants and delivering on exactly that. Part of what distinguishes Journeys by Design is the degree with which we tailor our trips. This is even more true when working with a client with specific needs. What this means is making – to the best of our ability – the potentially disabling world of the safari its complete opposite: enabling, adventurous, beautiful.
As example, I’ve recently helped organise the most extraordinary Kenya-based trip for a client diagnosed with a terminal illness, and who needed an extremely high level of care throughout. I say extraordinary not because it is us, but rather because he is a wonderful man who has a wonderful family and who has had the most wonderful experience, one that required the support of the most wonderful group of safari makers I’ve ever had the honour to work with.
Insisting on travelling even to areas with airstrips that lack landing lights, the trip took him to Angama Mara, Elephant Watch Camp, and Arijuju, and included flying over the Suguta Valley, visiting Reteti Elephant Orphanage, hot air ballooning, numerous wildlife drives, having a Samburu blessing – to name but a few of the activities. It has meant working hand-in-hand with Scenic Air Safaris, who provided not only a beauty of a plane and pilot-guide, but also great dedication and heart. It meant planning accessibility for every single step of the journey, every vehicle and every room. It meant Everett Aviation – one of the few organisations with a mandate to violate air traffic regulations – providing night-time emergency air support.
In short, it is a trip that required the most extraordinary level of logistical and empathic organisation, and one that, despite the support, was massively inclusive, always non-invasive, and allowed our client and his family to share an experience that went far beyond the splendour of Kenya’s wildernesses – and stands as fine testament to the fact that it is indeed possible to safari to Africa, whatever the level of assistance required.