3-Jan-2010 - I was very excited about my trip to Kenya. I was in email contact with Go-Africa for advice and arrange a Safari. As a wheelchair user, I like to get arrangements, sorted as best I can. I needn't of worried, as Yvonne (who also visited me, at the hotel, to confirm the ittinery and answer any questions) and Esther, covered every eventuality.

My safari started a few days into my holiday on 3rd January. I was picked up by our guide and driver Leonard, who was very punctual, very smart, in his appearance, and we could see the pride, in his safari van (it was spotlessly clean).

He went through the plan of the safari, explaining the route. Wheelchair lifted into the back (on top of the two, safari van, spare wheels) I "wobbly walked" to the seats, with help from Leonard and my partner. First destination was Rhino Valley Lodge. A Fantastic lodge situated in the hill, overlooking Tsavo West National Park.

Rhino Valley Lodge

It's very rustic, but a very good place to stay; the room was very nice, with outstanding views, large living/bedroom, shower room (with toilet). Bedroom has two twin beds, with mosquito nets (A separate kitchen (entered via a door, from the porch) for those on a self catering basis. To return to the reception/restaurant, it is advised, to ring reception, to ask for a Masai escort (DONT FORGET, your IN amongst, the wild animals). The paths are hard sand or stone, and a little uneven, in the evening there are limited lights provided but do remember, this is a very isolated site, an electric is provided by generator. The restaurant is on the lower part of the lodge building, with ramps to all areas (note these can become slippery). Reception has toilets with wide doors for wheelchair users. Day 2 - 4th January. Journey to Amboseli National Park for Lunch at Ol Tukai Lodge.

Ol Tukai Lodge

NOW, THIS LODGE WAS REALLY IMPRESSIVE, in its accessibility. Wooden pathways to reception, which has a tiled floor, with ramps to outside (stone) paths. All paths are ramped to ALL areas: restaurant, bar and (outside) swimming pool (with changing area), and all surrounding areas. Paths are made of local paving stones (which can be slightly uneven). The chalet (No 40) had movable wooden ramps to the patio and over door threshold. The chalet was one bedroom with shower room/toilet (the chalets are being refurbished, during the "off-season" all to this luxury standard.

The manager, was very insistent that he showed me the two, totally accessible chalets they have. NOTE these have a separate and independent generator, to make, sure there is 24/7, power, in the event of any power failures.

I was very impressed, with the level of thought, that has been put into making these chalets available to those who require a place to stay without encountering any suitable accommodation worries. (So much so, that I commented on this to the manager, that these chalets have better facilities-than some of the accommodation in the UK).

The Manager is very proud of the amount of accessibility his establishment provides. The bedroom is large and the beds have plenty of room around them for mobility equipment. The bathroom has a wheel-in, shower with all controls at a suitable height. A shower chair is provided (a plastic, patio chair). All doors are wide, allowing for easy access for wheelchairs.

An airstrip is only a mile or so away, so connections from Niarobi or Mombasa are possible, and I am sure Yvonne or Esther at Go-Africa will be able to advise, with any travel requirements.

Aruba Ashnil Lodge

Another accommodation, we stayed at over night, was Aruba Ashnil Lodge, in Tsavo East National Park. Two chalets are accessible to wheelchair users (wider doors) level floor, bathroom. NO air conditioning (just a fan mounted, on the wall). Paths are made of local stone (as above) whole complex is pleasant, with great views from all areas of a the very accessible main building. During our stay, it was very HOT and there was alot of large beetles, around the grounds.

Leonard, our Go-Africa driver, also took me into Ukunda, for me to have a haircut. It is the little things that the team at Go-Africa are very keen to make your stay very enjoyable, with no worrying. Even after our trip Yvonne and Esther came to visit me at the hotel, to make sure my trip was very enjoyable.

Alan Thomas
Ataxia South Wales chairman
Ataxia UK Trustee

Photos of my trip, can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanroygbiv/sets/72157623092079607/