Chobe Game Lodge

I booked an accessible safari through Eyes on Africa who booked through on accessible safari company in Southern Africa, Endeavour Safaris. Chobe Game Lodge was my last safari camp stop on this trip.  The loading area for the game drive vehicles is paved.  There’s a 4” lip up to the entrance.  I am able to get up the lip by myself.  Some wheelchair users may have trouble with this.  There’s one set of 10 steps and one set of 4 steps to get to the walkway for the rooms.  You are able to wheel up the paved driveway to the sidewalk behind the upper dining area to a paved walkway to the rooms.  There is a slight downhill from the sidewalk to the upper dining area.  I can wheel down by myself but I need help up to go back to the loading area for the game drives.  My first room was 301 which has a steep hill I can wheel down but need pushed up.  The room looked pretty accessible but I would need someone to push me up the steep hill every time I wanted to go somewhere.  I was then shown room 101 that was located passed the upper dining area and passed the two sets of steps.  The paved walkway is flat and easy to wheel on.

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Room 101 has recently been renovated and is just ok on accessibility. The room was not renovated to be an accessible room.  It has a 3” lip up to the room floor.  A small ramp would make it easier for some wheelchair users.  The door handle is lever style making it easy for people with limited hand function.  The bed height is too high.  Lowering the bed a minimum of 1 foot would be recommended.  The floor is tile and easy to wheel on.  The doorway to the bathroom is wide.  The bathroom is large and easy to move around.  There is no cut out under the sink to fit a wheelchair under.  The mirror is too high in the bathroom but there is a mirror in the seating area.  Transferring to the toilet and shower are both difficult 180 degree transfers.  Modifying the toilet and shower to make transferring easy will be difficult.  The doorways to the toilet and shower are narrow.  Some wheelchairs will not fit through the doorways.  A handheld shower head would make a shower much easier.  I used a plastic lawn chair to sit on to shower.

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The upper dining area is very accessible. The tables are a good height.  I’m able to wheel under the tables and keep my feet on my footrest.  The lower dining area or riverside boma is much more difficult to get to.  There is a paved walkway by the upper dining area that is steep that I’m able to go down by myself.  There is a small patch of grass to wheel over to get to the boardwalk and deck.  The boardwalk is also too steep but I’m able to wheel down by myself.  Both the boardwalk and paved walkway are too steep for me to wheel up by myself.  I think most people in manual wheelchairs will need up help wheeling up these.  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.  The riverside boma is grass and not difficult to wheel on.  We have several meals down here.  The view is amazing next to the river.  The large group tables are low and have a cross brace preventing you from wheeling under the table.  I had to take my feet off the footrest of my chair to get close to the table.  There is a bathroom by the riverside boma.  The boardwalk is also attached to a large beautiful deck overlooking the Chobe River.  There is afternoon tea on the deck most days.  There is an accessible bathroom located on the deck.

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Getting down to the boat is very difficult. You must go down the paved walkway by the upper dining area then passed the pool.  There are several steps to go down to get to the boat.  I go backwards through the grass by passing some steps then go backwards down 2 steps. I get help from several staff members during my stay to help me to and from the dock and back up the paved walkway.  There is a small drop off from the concrete walkway to the sand.  The sand is very loose and not able to wheel through.  I need pushed through the sand and get picked up in my chair and placed on the boat by two staff members.  The distance from the ground to the boat is at least 3 feet.  To make getting to the boat accessible a ramp would need to be built in the side of the hill remembering my statement from before, 1 foot in length per 1” in height or extending ramps as long as possible to make them as accessible as possible.  A deck would need to be built over the sand to make getting on the boat much easier.

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There’s one TV at the lodge in the Tshwene bar. This bar is located upstairs up at least 15 steps.  I was carried up the steps in my wheelchair by two staff members.  I would not have cared about watching TV on safari but it was the first game of The World Cup.  I was also carried down in my wheelchair by two of the staff.  There is pool table in the bar that I would have liked to play during my stay.  The only way to make the bar accessible is an elevator or a chair lift.

The staff is exceptional. Although I was not able to wheel freely around because of the steep hill and ramps, the staff was of great help.  Transferring to the Toyota Land Cruiser was difficult but I was able to transfer by myself.  I had to transfer to the narrow foot step then transfer to the seat.  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. RB was my driver for the game dives; she 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, fish eagle, giraffe, lion, lioness, among many others.  I did go on an extended game drive my last day that was exceptional.  Chobe Game Lodge is currently remodeling sections of the lodge for wheelchair accessibility that’s expected to be completed in 2-3 years (2016 or 2017).  I would highly recommend Chobe Game Lodge to any able body person who is interested in a safari.  If you are wheelchair user this camp is 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 to and from the boardwalk, riverside boma and boat.  Accessibility wise Chobe Game Lodge would receive a 2/5 rating.

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