Accessible wildlife tour/cruise/trip?
January 20, 2014 8:36 AM   Subscribe

Granddad loves wildlife, and has taken multiple Lindblad/National Geographic tours to Ecuador/Galapagos to see the animals. He would love to go back there, or to somewhere new, but I'm a little worried about his new mobility constraints ( use of wheelchair, walker). Where is the best accessible wildlife viewing in North, Central, South America?

My dad wants to take my 88 y/o grandfather, me, my brother, and our partners on a wildlife trip of some kind this summer (June/July). My granddad's generally robust health has started to decline at a steeper slope and he now uses a walker (can easily do (a few) stairs, or maybe 15 feet of walking assisted by walker). Otherwise he uses a wheelchair. Keep in mind we would be there to assist him with lack of curb cuts etc. but he is probably too heavy to be manually lifted by us into a ship or what have you.
posted by powerbumpkin to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Note that in my family's experience "accessible" when used in conjunction with hotels/travel/etc = accessible to wheelchairs. My Dad uses crutches and can only step up 3 inches so he has a bugger of a time finding accessible tour busses since few of them kneel and most mean they have wheelchair lifts. So, your granddad might have an easier time of it in his wheelchair.

I have not used this agency but there is an agency that specializes in accessible travel. Able To Travel

Disabled Travelers website offers a list of accessible travel resources worldwide. Unfortunately there are no reviews so I cannot speak to how well the agencies perform.
posted by Librarygeek at 9:03 AM on January 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

How does he feel about wildlife cruises in Alaska, or whale watching on either coast?
posted by blue suede stockings at 9:04 AM on January 20, 2014

Sea Wolf Adventures has accessible adventures that might be perfect for you all.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:05 AM on January 20, 2014

We just visited the Florida everglades, and they have some nice trails that are very flat and just fine for wheelchairs. Everything's super-flat. And I imagine that given that it's south florida, that there are tour companies that are very used to helping elders navigate mobility issues.

We went in the winter and saw lots of birds, a couple of alligators from far away, and a turtle.

The sheer variety of ecology in a short distance was very interesting. And we were only there for a few hours.
In terms of Alaska wildlife, the busses through Denali definitely give you opportunities to see wildlife, but the normal ones that the park service runs are just school busses, so I don't know how accessible they are. They claim: " Wheelchair accessible buses are available, and all stops are wheelchair accessible." The Narrated Tour Buses would probably be the way to go. My non-mobility-impared impression of Denali is that it's not particularly mobility-impared-friendly, but then I wasn't paying attention either. There are more expensive tours that might be more accessible. Here's the page on accessibility in Denali. When it says "Restrooms: Several wheelchair-accessible restrooms are available" it means larger pit toilets, typically.

There are also tours coordinated with some of the nearby hotels that might be wheelchair accessible.

Denali's pretty spectacular, and Alaska in the summer is a great place. And the couple of times I've been to Denali, we've seen wildlife (although you need binoculars, certainly for the sheep), including bears and caribou. It would certainly be different from Galapaos!
posted by leahwrenn at 11:12 AM on January 20, 2014

We went on a river cruise in South Africa and saw a TON of amazing wildlife. I'd suggest finding one in the Amazon or another tributary, and doing the bulk of the sightseeing that way. It was a fairly small ship but still accessible. Here is a starting point of wheelchair-accessible cruises.
posted by barnone at 2:12 PM on January 20, 2014

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