Camp Xakanaxa

I booked an accessible safari through Eyes on Africa who booked through on accessible safari company in Southern Africa, Endeavour SafarisCamp Xakanaxa was my first camp.  I had very limited freedom at Camp Xakanaxa.  I would not consider this camp accessible.  The loading area for the game drive vehicles is all sand which you can’t wheel through.  The first wood ramp to the lobby is too steep with a drop off to the sand.  The second ramp to the lobby is a little steep.  I needed to be pushed through the sand to the game drive vehicle and pushed up both ramps.  I see no way to do anything with the sand in the loading area.  The first ramp could be extended at least 10 feet to make it less steep. The second ramp cannot be extended in the current layout.  One ramp could be made from the sand to the lobby, to replace two ramps, but it would need to be at least 30 feet long.  ADA code in the USA is 1 foot in length per 1” in height.  Example:  for 24” in total height the ramp must be 24 feet long.  I know this is not possible in most instances in the African bush but extending ramps as long as possible to make them as accessible as possible is recommended.  There is one wood ramp down from the lobby to the sand walkway that’s steep.  This would also need extended.  The walkway through the yard to the sleeping tents, lounge, fire pit, hot tub and dining area is slightly compacted sand.  This is not possible to wheel through in a wheelchair.  I needed a push everywhere I went around camp through the sand.  All the camps I stayed at on safari need to use local materials to build the camp.  Placing wood decking over the sand making it easy to wheel on is the only solution I can think of.  Similar to that of Okuti Camp I also stayed at.

entrance sand walkway

There is a community toilet around the corner from the dining area that is not accessible. I see no reason to make this accessible if wood decking is placed over the sand and a reasonable ramp to the tent is made.  I know there are not many wheelchair users at this camp, so if they are able to get to and from their tent alone to use the toilet it’s not worth the expense to retrofit the community toilet.  The two ramps to the raised deck with lounge, fire pit, hot tub and dining area are a little steep but would be easy to get up with the wood decking over the sand, you would be able to get some momentum wheeling on the wood decking.  There are 4 steps to the boat safari that I was carried down.  A ramp down to this area would be difficult.  I could have transferred down to the deck and bumped myself down the steps then transferred back to my chair but I still would need carried on the boat.  Once on the raised deck it is very easy to get around without help.  This was the most accessible part of the camp.

ramp to lounge area ramp to dining area steps to boat dining area fire pit lounge area hot tub deck

My tent was raised on a deck about 48” off the ground. I booked the safari in January 2014, they had 6 months to build the ramp to my tent and some employees were building the ramp the day arrived.  The ramp was against the nose of the steps making the ramp at a 45 degree angle.  This is impossible for anyone in a wheelchair to wheel up.  The two ideas for making this accessible is to start a ramp a minimum of 30 feet down the walkway up to the deck or start a ramp by the boat dock to the deck.  The tent was pretty accessible, for being in the bush, once I had up the very steep ramp.  The tent zippers were difficult but putting rings on the zippers would make getting in and out of the tent much easier.  There is a 6” lip to get over in and out of the tent.  If you are able to pop a small wheelie to get your front tires over the lip it’s easy to wheel the rest of the way over the lip.  The width between the bed and the side of the tent could be tight for bigger wheelchairs.  My chair is only 23” wide so I don’t have many problems getting in tight areas.  Moving the bed one way or the bed side night stand would give you more room.  The bed is very high to transfer on.  Cutting off 6” from legs would make it much easier to transfer.  The bathroom has a few problems which some can be fixed.  The door handle would be difficult for people with limited or no hand dexterity.  The bench for the shower is just that, a bench.  Very difficult to sit on because it’s not very wide and does not have a back.  Some type of chair with a back would work.  A handheld shower head would make it much easier to shower.  The mirror and sink is too high.  Don’t know if the sink can be lowered but they do have small facial mirror that can be used.  The toilet is a little tight to transfer to but I see no way to make this easier.

ramp to my tent lip on tent tent shower sink and mirror toilet

The staff is exceptional. Although I was not able to wheel freely around camp because of the sand, the staff was of great help, especially Ollie who helped the most pushing me through the sand and help up and down the ramp to my tent. Ollie also did most of the lifting on and off the Range Rover Land Rover and boat. I do believe Endeavour Safaris has game drive vehicles with wheelchair lifts but these need to be arranged well in advance. Meals were buffet style with the staff helping me through the line. The food was very good. Ollie was my driver for the game dives; he was very knowledgeable of all the animals. The safari drives were amazing. It is truly a site to see the animals in their natural habitat, elephants, buffalo, wild dogs, leopard, among many others.  It was great to fall asleep every night listening to the hippos, crickets and frogs. One night at the fire pit we also heard a big male lion roar and elephants blowing water out their trunks. I would highly recommend Camp Xakanaxa to any able body person who is interested in a safari. If you are a manual wheelchair user this camp is very difficult to get around as is. If you are very independent, as I am, it’s very frustrating relying on other people to get you from place to place around camp.  Accessibility wise this camp would receive a 1.5/5 rating.

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