Okuti Camp

I booked an accessible safari through Eyes on Africa who booked through on accessible safari company in Southern Africa, Endeavour Safaris. Okuti Camp was my second safari camp on this trip.  The loading area for the game drive vehicles is all sand which you can’t wheel through.  There are two steps from the loading area to the deck.  They do have a removable ramp to get up the two steps.  The ramp is too steep plus it has a large gap in the middle.  I needed help to push up the ramp.  You must be careful going up and down the ramp so your wheels don’t fall in the center gap.  The ramp could be extended 3 feet and the gap filled in.  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.  Once on the wood decking it’s very easy to wheel around camp.  I felt more freedom right away compared to Camp Xakanaxa.

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The lounge area, dining area and fire pit are all accessible. There is an accessible toilet to the left of the entrance.  The dining table is too low; I was not able to wheel under the table to eat.  I had to take my feet off the footrest to fit under the table.  Either increasing the height under the table or having another table that a person in a wheelchair could sit where their legs can fit under the table would be recommended.

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There are ramps to the pool and boat dock that are too steep for some wheelchair users. I don’t think anything can be done to make these less steep without rebuilding those sections of the ramp and decreasing the slope.  They have railings on the deck walkway but a wheelchair could easily fall off the walkway.  Another railing 15” – 18” up from the walkway would keep a wheelchair from falling off the walkway.

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I stayed in the room named Fish Eagle. The room for the most part is very accessible.  Its layout is open and easy to wheel around.  The door handle and key (locking and un-locking door) are a little difficult to use for people with limited hand mobility.  A lever door handle would it much easier.  I don’t have a good solution for the key.  You are instructed to lock the door to your room because the baboons have learned how to open the doors.  The bed height is good.  The sliding door to the deck is easy to use.  The deck is big with plenty of room.  The sink and mirrors are too high.  There are wood slats on the front preventing a wheelchair from wheeling under to use the sink easily.  Removing the slats on the front of one sink that a wheelchair user could wheel under would work and lowering the mirrors above that sink.  By doing this you could get away with not lowering the sink.  The door to the toilet opens in making it impossible to shut the door.  Changing the door to open out should make enough room in the toilet area to shut the door.  The shower is not too bad.  It may be tight for bigger wheelchairs.  I had to use a plastic chair to sit in to shower.  This is no problem if you are able to transfer.  A handheld shower head would make it much easier to shower.  They also have an outside shower that I would have liked to use but I was on safari in winter.

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The staff is exceptional. My two guides, Lucky and Salani, were very knowledgeable of all the animals.  I was able transfer to the Toyota Land Cruiser with very little help.  I do believe Endeavour Safaris has game drive vehicles with wheelchair lifts but these need to be arranged well in advance.  Meals were served with staff walking around the table with each dish for you to serve yourself which items you wanted.  The safari drives were amazing.  It is truly a site to see the animals in their natural habitat, giraffes, hippos, zebras, among many others.  It was great to fall asleep every night listening to the hippos, crickets and frogs.  I would highly recommend Okuti Camp to any able body person or manual wheelchair user.  I was able to wheel around camp with no real issues.  Even though I did not go to the pool or boat dock I believe I would have had trouble getting back up the ramps.  I know there is staff that would have no problem helping push people up the ramps.  Okuti Camp shuts down every February to freshen up the camp.  Accessibility wise this camp would receive a 3.5/5 rating.

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