I booked an accessible safari through Eyes on Africa who booked through on accessible safari company in Southern Africa, Endeavour Safaris. Savute Safari Lodge was my third safari camp stop on this trip. The loading area for the game drive vehicles is all sand which you can’t wheel through without help. There’s a 4” lip up the entrance that I get helped up. The area between the entrance and bar is also sand with a 4” lip to each area. The entrance and bar are very easy to wheel on with stone pavers for flooring. A row of stone pavers placed between the entrance and bar about 3 feet wide would make it easy to wheel between these areas. The upper dining area also has stone pavers for flooring. It is located by the bar but has a sand walkway between these areas. As before, a row of stone pavers about 3 feet wide would make going between these areas accessible.
My room was located passed the upper dining area with a sand walkway that I was unable to wheel through without help. Stone pavers or wooding decking over the sand walkway would make getting to the room in a wheelchair accessible. There is a ramp to the deck and a slightly longer walkway with 3 steps to the deck. The ramp is too steep and I needed help pushed up and held onto going down. The ramp could be made longer by building a new ramp over the slightly longer walkway or extending the current ramp farther into the sand walkway. 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 deck has railings but a wheelchair could easily go under the railing and fall off. Another railing 15” – 18” up from the deck would keep a wheelchair from falling off. The view from my deck was amazing, overlooking the river seeing elephants crossing daily. The room is large and easy to wheel around. The height of the bed is good. The bathroom is also large with the only issues being no cut out under the sink, the mirror is too high and the transfer to the shower may be difficult for some wheelchair users. There a small facial mirror to use. A handheld shower head would make a shower much easier.
There is a wood walkway to the pool that is accessible. The wood ramp to the fire pit and lower dining area is way too steep. I don’t think any manual wheelchair user could go up the ramp by them self. Going down by yourself would be very difficult. The only way I can think of making a ramp that wheelchair users could get to the fire pit/lower dining area without help would be to make a new ramp that goes around the pool. Start the ramp across the back of the pool then down the far side then across the front of the pool to the deck by the fire pit. There is one step from the fire pit to the lower dining area that has a ramp. There are few places around the lower dining area that have railings but a wheelchair could easily go under the railing and fall off. Another railing 15” – 18” up from the deck would keep a wheelchair from falling off. It’s an amazing site to watch animals (elephants, hyenas, kudu, and buffalo, among others) approach the waterhole to drink while having lunch or dinner.
The staff is exceptional. Although I was not able to wheel freely around camp because of the sand, the staff was of great help. 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 buffet style with the staff helping me through the line. The food was very good. Baba 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, wildebeest, kori bustard, lioness and cubs, among many others. I would highly recommend Savute Safari Lodge to any able body person who is interested in a safari. If you are 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 2/5 rating.