by Deborah Davis
Our Journey from Florida to Cape Town started In Johannesburg. Due to an extremely long flight with a required de-boarding and refueling in Dakar, I needed to stretch out and lie down and take a hot bath! The perfect place to do this ended up being the Hotel Inter-Continental Hotel, located right within the Joburg Airport. All we had to do was collect our bags and walk across the airport road to this elegant, modern and upscale hotel for a much needed recharge. A wonderful dinner in the hip dining room, and a beautiful accessible room made this a great start to my introduction to SA!
Early the next morning, we took a flight to Port Elizabeth, a good kick off point for the Scenic Garden Route drive to Cape Town. The Garden Route drive is nothing less than an exceptional experience that provides the window to why South Africa is considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It is approximately 8 hours from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, and every mile is photo worthy. So get you camera ready, you will want to take nonstop pictures along the way!
First stop is for lunch in Jeffrey’s Bay. This Beach is popular with surfers and with a strong push up a steep hill; I was able to dine at the “Kitchen Window” which gave me my first SA dolphin sighting!
We decide to break up the full day drive with a stop in the quaint coastal town of Knysna along the famous “Garden Route” to get to Cape Town. The lovely Protea Hotel had an accessible room, yet unfortunately the view was not of the amazing water views, but down to the parking lot. This happens often when it comes to accessible rooms, as they tend to be placed in the least attractive locations on a property. We really need to advocate trying to change this!
From Knysna, we had only 4 more hours along garden route to Cape Town with more outstretched lands to take in, and farms that make you understand why the meat and food taste so good! All natural and no chemicals, just grass feed, free range, local and healthy!
We arrive in Cape Town! While the original hotel we had booked, The Ambassador Hotel, had one of the most amazing cliff top views directly down onto the ocean and rocks below from the hip restaurant, the actual designated handicapped room was across a busy street from the main hotel. I just could not bring myself to accept the possibility of being run over while crossing the road in a wheelchair. After it took me a 22 hour plane trip from Florida, a short flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth and an 8 hour drive to get here, I had no intention of staying anywhere that I did not feel completely comfortable or safe.
So the Hotel referred us to a partner Hotel that they knew had an accessible room available nearby. “Wonderful!” I thought until I learned the option came with a price tag: R6000 rand a night (that was $600 US at the time)! “Ok I said, I don’t care, it is one night, it is the only accessible room available (at very short notice and that was nearby, in town). I am ready to settle in, let’s go!
The Victoria and Alfred Hotel: Our Unplanned but Fortunate Alternate Oasis
This Hotel ended up being the piece de la resistance of the trip. The view, I believe should hold a place on the list of “The Best Hotel Views in the World”. The "handicapped accessible” room's view is revealed via two outward opening large bay windows looking down directly onto the harbour and waterfront and then up to the most breathtaking Table Mountain in the distance.
"Welcome to the Victoria and Alfred Hotel Madame"! We found a disabled parking spot right in front (used my FL handicapped tag), and a bellman came to greet us at our car and brought up luggage. A small elevator right off the lobby took us up to the 2nd floor of this 3 story former shipping warehouse built in 1904, and converted in 1990 to this luxury hotel. It is named in honour of the Queen of England and her son, Prince Alfred“This landmark hotel is perfectly situated in the heart of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and offers spectacular views of the working harbour and Table Mountain. Walk in the utmost safety to some of the finest retail outlets from designer stores to restaurants, craft markets, cinemas, boat cruises to Robben Island and entertainment in the amphitheater.”
Double wide hallways lead to the extra-large rooms that are best described as “elegant contemporary”. The windows beckon you and open outwardly with the white billowing sheers giving way to the sights, sounds, and views that make this room, and this experience worth the splurge!
If you want a shower, then the accessible room has one with a small pull down wooden slate bench seat, or if you want to soak, a large tub with grab bars. The bathroom toilet is a good height for transfers, and has grab bars, but there is a folding door track that is a little awkward to go over and position yourself next to toilet-but it is definitely doable!
The rate comes with breakfast and champagne mimosas you can refill yourself from chilled Moet and Chandon bottles in a large ornate silver basin…nice touch! Sumptuous buffet, and made to order a la carte eggs, bacon etc. will leave you feeling like you definitely got your money’s worth, and a nice relaxed start to the day . There is outdoor and indoor patio seating, with small chandeliers over tables and bright fresh flowers in the vases. To access the dining room via wheelchair, you need to go outside the front entry off the elevator and down the outside ramp toward the waterfront and either stay on the outside and dine along the waterfront, or enter a door on the same level to sit inside the enclosed sun room.
The location on the waterfront harbor is perfect for just strolling around and exploring the smaller boutique shops featuring local artisans, visiting the other large and glamorous hotel properties located near (but not directly on, like the V&A) the waterfront, and taking in the numerous authentic African street performances that take place throughout the large quayside complex. You can walk to the Two Seas Aquarium, The Victoria Wharf shopping complex, a folk art complex, Nobel Square (Peace prize laureates Statues in bronze) or the many restaurants to choose from. I suggest you do not skip going to the top rated Belgian Den Anker restaurant and have the pot of beer infused mussels, salmon plate, French fries (called “pomme frites” and served with mustard mayonnaise instead of ketchup-which, if you must have, you ask for “tomato sauce”) and Belgium chocolate sundae! TO DIE FOR!!!! Here is a link to their Terrace menu: http://www.denanker.co.za/Terrace_Menu_Den_Anker.pdf
After the waterfront, the real must see attraction is the big beauty that makes up your window, the glorious Table Mountain. A fully accessible, exciting lift takes you up, up and away, all the way to the very top for a walk around the mountain’s flat top surface pathways. The views from that 3567 ft. (1087 meters) height are what can usually only be described by pilots and mountain climbers. Awesome!
After Table Mountain, continue up to Stellenbosch and stay the night at one of the accessible resorts there, spending at least a day taking a wine tasting tour of the many fully accessible wineries in the region. The region puts out a guide book that will highlight those wineries that are accessible: http://www.cadek.co.za/swr/. Breathtaking beauty, fresh and sumptuous delicacies on outdoor balconies, and charming, elegant and visually stunning winery views are a treat to all the senses. This wine region, which is said to be the start of the longest wine route in the world, is a must not miss minimum one day and overnight excursion from Cape Town.
A must see for anyone visiting Florida is the Kennedy Space Center. Lying on the Space Coast it is a 35 minute drive east of Orlando or a three and a half hour drive north of Miami on the I95. Kennedy Space Center is synonymous with man's exploration of space from the early Mercury and Gemini mission, the Apollo Moon landings and the Space shuttle missions now in their final phases.The Kennedy Space Center offers travellers with a disability a fully accessible experience from the visitors centre to the bus tours of the complex.
ParkingAn accessible parking area is right adjacent to the visitors centre entrance and is available to anyone with a valid parking permit. Temporary permits are available from the ticket booths outside the centre entrance.
Entrance and Visitors centreThe ticket booths are located outside the entrance and are accessible. Entry to the building is via large self opening doors and through a security screening area. Once inside the visitors area is flat and gives access to the Space Shop, Imax Theatre, Cafe Rocket Garden, Space Shuttle Mock Up, and launch experience attractions. All of the attractions within the visitors centre are fully accessible and accessible restrooms are available at the IMAX theatre, cafe, and snack bar area near the Shuttle display.
Shuttle Launch ExperienceThe shuttle launch experience is accessible via a ramped entry. The ride itself requires transfer from a chair. Each ride cabin has one specially equipped ADA seat with a swivelling armrest. This seat is also equipped with a five point harness for those with poor trunkcontrol. There is an alternative observation room which provides the full video of the launch experience without the ride sensation for those not wanting the experience or not wishing to transfer out of their chair. The ride itself includes rotation through 90 degrees and considerable vibration. There are no sudden movements or jerkiness. Exit from the building is via another sloping curved ramp.
Full Scale Space Shuttle ExhibitThe full scale space shuttle is accessed via a sloping ramp or elevators. There are two levels giving access into the payload bay lower level and the flight cockpit and upper level of the payload bay. On each level is an elevator stop. The ramps lead right into the shuttle and a level viewing platform on each level.
Space Shuttle Display
Ramped access into the Shuttle
Guided Space Center TourA highlight of a visit to the Kennedy Space Center is the guided tour of the facility including the launch pad observation tower and the Apollo Museum.The tours leave from the bus bay located on the right as you leave the entrance building. The tour operates on a hop-on hop-off basis at the stops along the tour. Each bus in the fleet is equipped with a wheelchair lift. Inside the bus there is an area for two wheelchairs or if you prefer the two seats adjacent to the lift are equipped with grab rails to allow a transfer into the bus seats.
Every bus in the tour fleet is wheelchair lift equipped
The first stop on the tour is the launch pad observation tower. This stop is equipped with a theatre, kiosk, picnic tables, an interactive display area and of course the tower.The tower gives a commanding view over the launch pads, the transportation tracks and back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The tower is equipped with an elevator to all levels. At the top of the tower there is an outside observation deck that is fully ramped.
Observation Tower Elevators
Ramp to the Observation Deck
The theatre has wheelchair access and wheelchair positions at the front on either side. Adjacent to the theatre is an interactive display centre. The displays are all at a height readable from a wheelchair and the consoles are roll-under.
Interactive display console
The picnic tables at the observation tower centre all have a roll-under position and the restrooms are accessible.
Apollo ComplexThe second stop on the tour is the Apollo Museum. On arrival at the Apollo Centre the first activity is the theatre outlining the history of the Apollo missions. This area is a level floor with good wheelchair access. After the short presentation which is captioned, you are directed into the firing room for the launch sequence of Apollo 8, the first mission to orbit the moon. Wheelchair access is via the left hand door with a level area at the front of the firing room. The same area has a hearing loop. .This is an enormous building and a complete highlight as it contains a full size Saturn V rocket, the lunar lander and the lunar Rover. The full history of the Apollo program is on display in a fully level easy to get around building. In addition to the displays there is a cafe, and accessible restrooms. As with the observation tower there is no rush or timetable to adhere to. Once you have completed your visit you simply go back outside and catch the next available bus to the next destination. On departing the complex the accessible bus loading is off to the left not at the main loading area
Apollo Command Module
Astronaut MemorialBehind the replica space shuttle display is the Astronaut memorial. It is accessed by a gently sloping ramp, about the only ramp. This display recognises those astronauts whose lives have lost. All displays can be easily read.
by Bill Forrester
Two and a half hours north of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal lies the Elephant Coast on the north Indian Ocean coast of South Africa. The Elephant Coast stretches from St Lucia in the south to Kosi Bay in the north and encompasses a vast array of activities from Big 5 game viewing, whale watching, bird watching, encounters with hippos and crocodiles, turtle tracking, scuba diving, visits to cultural villages in the heart of the Zulu Kingdom or just relaxing on the pristine beaches of the Indian Ocean.The region has a conservation ethos with the HluhluweiMfolozi Park and lake St Lucia having been under formal conservation since 1895. In 1999 the iSimangaliso Wetland Park was inscribed as South Africa’s first world heritage site.The Elephant Coast has one other feature that statistics alone cant cant convey, if is a feeling of stepping back in time and immersing yourself in a culture of Africa that has been forgotten and overly commercialized in other parts of the country. It is both safe and extremely friendly. It final great advantage is that it is an extremely accessible destination that allows a wheelchair tourist to experience the majesty of Africa’s big game.Hluhluwe is the oldest and second largest game reserve in South Africa and contains the mandatory “Big 5” (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino). It is world renown for saving the White Rhino from possible extinction and today has the largest population of Black Rhino in Africa. The park gives a feel of a true African adventure with its rolling hills dense forest and thornveld valleys. The park is open to private vehicles and has good roads throughout. Most of our travels were done with our car hired from Durban International Airport. We encountered herds of buffalo, giraffe, rhino, warthog, zebra and elephants with one very memorable close encounter. Driving is easy and well signed throughout, but often the best trick is to just stop by a river or waterhole and wait.Accessible accommodation is available within the park at Hilltop Camp. As the name suggests it is a beautiful lodge perched high on the ridge line giving commanding views over the park. Apart from the rooms with roll in showers the main complex is very well designed with wide entrances and flat flooring throughout giving easy access to the dinning room and bar areas. The outside terraced area is two level with a very gently sloping ramp connecting both levels and giving a great place to relax over a drink and talk about the days encounters as the sun sets over the park. Accessible facilities are available within the complex both for overnight guests or visitors wanting a convenient place to stop for lunch or morning tea.For those wishing to stay outside the park Bonamanzi private game reserve and lodge has a fully accessible unit. The lodge area is again very well equipped with level wide and smooth pathways connection all areas. The dinning facilities have easy access as does the elevated viewing area over the lake with gentle sloping ramps onto the platform. Bonamanzi is a private reserve and it has its own game drives including night drives. The open topped game vehicles are accessible via a purpose built wheelchair loading area.If you are after a guided tour of the Elephant Coast Access2Africa safaris runs a series of inclusive itineraries from Durban including transport, game drives, scenic tours, activities and accommodation. Jennae will put together an individual tour as well to meet your specific needs.If you have ever wanted to experience the “wilds of africa” the Elephant Coast is a perfect and very accessible way to do it.
The Wellington Cable Car is one of the city's oldest and most recognisable tourist attractions. It first opened in February 1902 and was originally built to service the housing developments on the steep hill behind the city, a function it still does today.The tram runs from Lambton Quay, right in the centre of the Central Business district. The 5 minute journey takes you to the top entrance of Wellinton's Botanical Gardens and a spectacular view over the city and its harbour. In addition to the observation area the tram gives access to the Cable Car museum and the newly reopened Carter Observatory.
The Cable Car has two level areas to accommodate wheelchair passengers. Both are located between the sets of entrance doors. At the lower platform ramps give access to either door. Passengers intending to go to the top and visit the observation area, Cable Car Museum or the Carter observatory should use the upper door of the Cable car which is accessed via the ramp to the right. This door gives level egress to the observation area to the right of the tram.
The city platform. The car has two level areas for wheelchairs. To visit the observation deck, Cable Car Museum or the Carter Observatory use the upper plaform by following the ramp around to the right
The top platform. Access is level
A free electric scooter is available at the lower platform
The observation area at the top is level and affords a great view over the city.
Observation area and path into the Botanical Gardens
Observation Deck gives a commanding view over the city
Deaf and hearing impaired Australians can now enjoy Australia’s first onsite access to Auslan and caption services at the National Sports Museum in Melbourne. The “Smart Auslan” technology was developed by not‐for‐profit organisation, Australian Communication Exchange (ACE), over an 18‐month partnership with the museum.While hundreds of museums across Australia offer audio tours, only the National Sports Museum now offers the equivalent service for Deaf and hearing impaired Australians to gain easy access to the same information through a smartphone device.Up until now, Deaf Australians have had to either pay for their own Auslan interpreter, or wait for a scheduled Auslan tour to fully appreciate the cultural experiences on offer at museums. With Smart Auslan on their device, they can now freely decide when and how they would like to visit museums adopting the technology.
“The Smart Auslan project with the National Sports Museum is a breakthrough in exhibition accessibility for Deaf and hearing impaired Australians,” said Sandy Gilliland, ACE Chief Executive Officer. “This partnership is part our ongoing commitment to deliver quality‐of‐life services today that will provide equal access to Deaf Australians. We see this as the first of many museums and galleries that will look to further cultural access for all Australians, by opening their doors wider for the Deaf and hearing impaired communities.”Each year, approximately 150,000 people visit the National Sports Museum and listen to audio descriptions of iconic exhibitions. Smart Auslan provides Deaf and hearing impaired Australians with the same access to the museum display descriptions in Auslan sign language videos that can be accessed by scanning Quick Response (QR) codes with Android‐powered smartphones.The museum will have six Android devices located for visitors to use or alternatively the application can be downloaded onto an Android smartphone from the ACE website.Margaret Birtley, General Manager for the National Sports Museum: “This is such an exciting initiative and we are thrilled to be part of the launch of Smart Auslan in Australia. We are sure this new technology will provide our deaf and hearing impaired visitors with a more engaging experience at the National Sports Museum.”ACE is a not‐for‐profit organisation which, for 16 years, has been at the forefront of communication solutions for Deaf, hearing impaired and speech impaired Australians. The organisation is constantly looking for new ways to meet the changing communication needs of its communities. Today’s technology and high speed internet makes it possible to design these new access tools that will overcome significant barriers for signing Deaf Australians. ACE is experienced in designing, delivering and promoting new communication solutions for this group. Our vision is Access to Communication for Everyone and we will continue to provide resources and expertise in this sector so our vision can be achieved.
About Australian Communication Exchange (ACE)Australian Communication Exchange (ACE) is a national not‐for‐profit community organisation. ACE was established to facilitate equity of access to the telecommunications network for people who are Deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment.For further information about the Smart Auslan project with the National Sports Museum please visit www.smartauslan.com.au or email email@example.com or phone 1300 133 968.
Background information when reporting about Deaf and hearing impaired AustraliansThere is a difference between capital “D” Deaf Australians and deaf or hearing impaired. Australians who use Auslan sign language as their first and preferred language identify with themselves as belonging to the Deaf community. Usually, this group have been deaf since birth or early childhood and were taught to sign at an early age. Auslan is recognised as a community language other than English, so for Deaf Australians learning English is akin to learning a second language.Hearing impaired or hard of hearing people have either lost their hearing later in life or as children but followed an auditory‐oral approach. The children develop English speaking and listening skills with their residual hearing and do not usually use Auslan.Smart Auslan is accessible to both these groups because the museum information has been translated into both Auslan sign language and English captions.
Located on the Tamiami Trail (US 41) about 11 miles east of the Florida Turnpike is small family run airboat operation, Coopertown Airboats. I was in Florida for the SATH World Congress and wanted to find an airboat operator that could take a wheelchair passenger out onto the Everglades so that I and Travability's co-founder Deborah Davis could enjoy the experience.After having spend the morning driving up and down the Tamiami Trail I discovered that most operators viewed an accessible airboat as one in which they were prepared to lift a passenger into.
The Coopertown experience was totally different, as they have two specially modified boats that allow a wheelchair passenger to roll right onto the front of the boat and back up against the front seat.
The following day Deb and I returned. There is disabled parking right at the front of the building with the airboat ticket counter off to the right. Through the gate and out the back is a small reptile park and picnic tables which we explored while the boat was prepared.
The roll down to the jetty is a gentle slope and a flat wide board is placed from the jetty onto the deck of the airboat. The boats will take two chairs. In our case with only the one it was backed up against the front seat allowing half the seat for the accompanying person allowing for conversation and a shared experience.
Tie down area and boarding ramp
Secured with ratchet straps
Once on the deck the chair is tied down with two ratchet straps to keep it extremely firm and secure. In addition to the chair tie down Deb was fitted with a waist harness that went around the back of her chair below the push handles and around her waist. The strong webbing belt was secured with Velcro that allowed for a quick release in the case of an emergency. The belt kept her secure in the chair. The big difference here was the attitude of the staff. Instead of just facilitating a person with a disability they had gone out of their way to modify two of their boats and thought about the issue of trunk control and been inventive in their solutions. Throughout they not only gave a reassuring impression that they knew what they were doing, but more importantly made us feel as if we were more than welcome.
After the initial apprehension had been put to rest we set off out into the everglades. Our guide was knowledgeable and entertaining with several stops along the route to spot the local wildlife and to explain the ecology of the everglades system. At one point we stopped at an island to allow me off to take some action photos of Deborah on the airboat making it a fun afternoon.
Deborah closely watching an alligator
Enjoying some high speed fun
On return we stopped at their cafe for some frog legs and gator tails. The cafe does have one step at the front of it, which we managed easily and inside there is ample room with easily accessible tables. A portable ramp is available if required. The restrooms do not meet modern ADA standards, but there is ample room inside the male and female facilities for a wheelchair. There are no grab rails and the toilet height is low, something to keep in mind if you are visiting the facility.
Coopertown is the oldest operator on the Tamiami Trail having been in existence since 1945. An aiboat ride through the Florida Everglades is one of those "must do" experiences and here is an operator that not only accepts passengers with a disability but welcomes them from start to finish and has used their ingenuity to really make your outing and enjoyable and fun experience.
For more details contact Coopertown Airboats on (305) 226-6048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They are located at 22700 Southwest 8th Street Miami, FL 33194. Web site is http://www.coopertownairboats.com
Often words like that conjure a degree of scepticism, but having driven Canada’s Icefield’s Parkway now four times, including once in winter I would agree that it is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. The Icefields Parkway stretches 230 kilometres from the delightful mountain town of Jasper descending into the Rocky Mountain trench paralleling the continental divide, flanked by towering peaks and ancient glaciers, to the stunning Lake Louise.
Athabasca FallsThe first stop along the way is the Athabasca Falls. The Athabasca River carries more water than any other river in the Rockies National Park system and while not being very high at 23 metres, the falls are a magnificent spectacle by virtue of the shear volume and power of the water going over them, and well worth the short diversion. The paths are paved but a set of steps after the first viewing point limites wheelchair travellers to that viewing point only, which is unfortunate as the best viewing is from the far side of the river.
Athabasca GlacierA major highlight of this drive is a stop at the Columbia Ice Fields and a trip onto the Athabasca Glacier aboard one of the ice explorers. The Athabasca Glacier is the most accessible glacier in North America. Despite the fact that it is retreating at the rate of five metres per year it is still a massive glacier at over six kilometres long, a kilometre wide and, at its centre over 300 metres deep. The excursion on one of the giant six wheeled purpose built Ice Explorers takes ninety minutes and takes you right onto the Athabasca Glacier and a chance to walk on this massive moving river of ice. The coaches run from mid April to mid October. Since 1991 the service has been catering for passengers with disabilities. One quarter of Brewster's Ice Explorer fleet that tour the Athabasca Glacier are extra-long, with special wheelchair lifts and can comfortably carry up to 4 wheelchairs at a time in addition to the regular 56 passenger seats. Shuttle busses that take passengers to and from the Ice Explorer are not wheelchair-equipped, so private specialty vehicles carry wheelchair passengers to the Ice Explorer. Brewster also hosts an annual training course to key staff members, for advice and instruction on accommodating physically and mentally challenged visitors. The Icefields Centre is located on the Icefields Parkway opposite the glacier. There is ample disabled parking with bays wide enough to accommodate side loading vans. Both main entrances to the Icefield Centre are equipped with automatic doors with interior and exterior sensors. The Centre has an elevator that services all four floors; the Glacier Exhibit Gallery, main floor, food floor and hotel floor. The grand view deck on the second floor has picnic tables designed for ease of seating and are also wheelchair-accessible. There are plenty of barrier-free stalls in both the women's and men's washrooms. On the ground floor and on the food floor there are 'family room' washrooms for people who need the assistance of a caregiver. All corridors and public areas are kept clear and unobstructed, and have no steps or elevation changes. All public doors are equipped with lever-type handles. Two of the hotel rooms are specially equipped to accommodate wheelchairs. All hotel rooms have two-part fire alarms that include a strobe-light alarm for the hearing impaired plus the usual siren alarm. All public areas in the Icefield Centre are non-smoking for the comfort of all visitors, and the health of those with respiratory concerns. There are no air-conditioning systems to introduce molds or bacteria; our windows really open for fresh mountain air!
Video Clip NotesThe Canadian Paralympic Committee and gold medalist Paralympic athlete Joanne Kelly joined upwith a group of Canadian travel retailers to announce a new program that highlights Canada’saccessible travel experiences. The “Go Canada” program. The announcement took place on the spectacular Columbia Icefield at the unveiling of a fully accessible GO CANADA branded Ice Explorer vehicle. The massive Ice Explorer vehicle is part of the Columbia Icefield Glacier Experience, which takes visitors on a remarkable 90-minute adventure onto the surface of Athabasca Glacier, and is but one example of the accessible travel experiences available in Canada. (Courtesy Canadian Tourism Commission)
Peyto LakeAfter a day of stunning scenery and unique experiences the Icefields Parkway has one final surprise. The final must do stop on this magnificent drive is a short diversion into Peyto Lake. This lake is simply breathtaking and one of the highlights of any trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The lake was named after one of the early pioneer outfitters, “Wild Bill” Peyto. The viewing area is a short walk from the car park just over the Bow Summit, which is a high point on the Icefields Parkway. The Lake is nestled in the deep glacial valley below and affords magnificent views back to the Rocky Mountain Trench across the Emerald green of the lake.There is accessible parking in the upper level car park. The lower level one is too far away to be negotiated using a wheelchair. From the car park there is a level paved path leading down to the observation deck overlooking the lake. The path is wide but does slope down for its entire length of approximately 100 metres. The push back is long and arduous without some assistance made harder due to the altitude. The return trip is easy with the aid of a gentle push.
The Icefields Parkway is an easy day trip, but one that will reward you with some of the most awe inspiring scenery on earth.
In addition to its picture perfect setting Vancouver has a stunning surprise for the visitor on its backdoor step, Grouse Mountain. In winter Grouse Mountain serves as a stunning winter playground and ski field within 20 minutes of the centre of the city, but in summer it is a great place to spend a day with a host of activities and stunning views down over downtown Vancouver and its harbour.
It is reached by the SkyRide Gondola a 12 minute ride taking you to the upper station at an elevation of 3,700 feet. To reach the lower station from Vancouver either:Take the North Vancouver exit (right) to Marine Drive. Turn north (left) at the first intersection, Capilano Road. Stay on Capilano Road for 5km (3.1 miles) until the road ends at the Grouse Mountain parking lot. Disabled parking bays are provided in the front row of the parking area directly opposite the two ramps leading to Gondola loading station. The left hand ramp offers the shorter distance to the ticket office.By public transportation, take the SeaBus to the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Take bus #236 to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. An alternative is to take bus #246 on West Georgia St across the Lions Gate Bridge to Edgemont Village. From there, transfer to bus #232 that will take you to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. The SeaBus is accessible with rollon rolloff access and offers superb views of the city on the trip across the harbour. The return trip is well worth doing on its own. Officially it is stated in some guides that 24 hours notice is required for a wheelchair passenger, however passage is on a first come first serve basis and unless there is a large group there doesn't seem to be an issue with just showing up (and nor should there be) Access to the and from the Gondola is easy and level and access to the amenities building adjacent to the top station is via gently sloping ramps.
Once on the top there is plenty to do and all of the attractions are included in the price of your SkyRide ticket, excluding the franchised operations such as the paragliding. The wood carvings are amazing, as is the Birds in Motion display. For a bit of fun the Lumberjack Show provides an action packed and humorous 45 minutes of entertainment.The must see while you are on the mountain are the two orphaned Grizzly Bears, Grinda and Coola now living in the sanctuary at the top of the mountain. The best viewing area from a wheelchair is from the bridge over the river at the Grizzly Bear enclosure. Their respective stories are reprinted below.Back at the main building the theatre in the sky offers two presentations. At the top of every hour is Born to Fly which takes visitors on a dramatic aerial adventure through an eagle’s perspective, exploring four-seasons of scenery, recreation, travel and the natural wonders of Canada’s pacific province, British Columbia. This presentation in particular will leave you breathless. At the bottom of the hour, watch Discovery Channel’s Animal Tracks: Baby Grizzlies. The feature tells the story of Grinder and Coola and follows their journey to the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. Smooth and well graded paths lead between all of these attractions, and ample room to view the Lumberjack Show and Birds in motion.
If you are in Vancouver and you strike a clear day a trip up Grouse Mountain is well worth the effort. Allow yourself plenty of time as time does get away if the weather is good. While nearly all of the activities are accessible the final chairlift to the top of the mountain is not nor is the ziplining. The BBQ cafe located near the Birds in Motion display does not have a ramped access to the BBQ deck.
The Story of Grinder and Coola - Courtesy Grouse Mountain
Grinder was found orphaned June 5, 2001 in Invermere, British Columbia. He was wandering alone on a logging road, dehydrated, thin, weak and weighing only 4.5 kg. His mother was never found so how he came to be alone is unknown.Grinder is a very outgoing, high-spirited bear. He is usually the first to investigate anything new and explore the unknown. He has established himself as the dominant bear, despite his smaller size, and he often shows much more 'attitude' than Coola. He is usually the one to initiate the bouts of wrestling and play fighting.Careful observation has revealed that Grinder predominantly favours the use of his right paw for grasping and manipulating objects. This would make him right-handed (or is it right-pawed?). Although he does enjoy swimming in the pond, he does this much less frequently than Coola. One of his favourite pastimes is people-watching and he can usually be seen scrutinizing our visitors.
Coola was found orphaned at the side of the highway on June 29, 2001 near Bella Coola, British Columbia. His mother had been hit and killed by a truck. Of her three cubs, Coola was the only one to survive. One cub was hit by a falling tree and the other ran away and was not seen again.
Coola is a very easy-going bear with a cautious and careful disposition. He is quite introverted and seems content to let Grinder take the lead in new discoveries.
He shows a definite preference for swimming and aquatic games and can most often be found submerged up to his neck in the large pond. He likes to keep his 'bath toys' on the bottom of the pond and can be seen carefully feeling around underwater for them. These usually consist of a large bone, a favourite rock and a log. He brings these up for playing and will hold, throw and balance them on the top of his head for entertainment. None of these toys are ever found away from the pond. We believe he may be keeping them underwater to hide them from Grinder.
He favours the use of his left paw for holding and manipulating objects. This indicates that he is most likely left-handed (pawed). His bed-making abilities are outstanding and the previous two year's hibernation beds were assembled entirely by Coola. He dragged in large branches and rearranged them until the den was lined with a comfy 2ft deep mattress.
His voice is a very deep baritone but he seldom vocalizes it. He can only be heard during the occasional argument with Grinder.
Addo Elephant park is the third largest in South Africa. It is situated 72km by road from Port Elizabeth. Established in 1931 to saverds great wildlife viewing on well maintained roads throughout from the comfort of your own vehicle.
The park has several innovative features for the disabled traveller.
Accessible Discovery Trail
Close to the main park camp is the 2km PPC Discovery trail. From the two disabled car parking bays, that are wide enough to take side loading vans, the path winds through the thicket. The trail is made from a reconstituted plastic material called polywood, giving an extremely smooth ride for wheelchair uses. The path is interspersed with interpretive centres and displays explaining the natural vegetation and wildlife making up Addo's bushveld. For the visually impaired the path is edged with ropes for guidance and at each interpretative centre the displays ar
11 Elephants on the brink of extinction, and is now home to more than 350 of them, 280 Cape Buffalo, black Rhino, a range of Antelope species, as well as the rare flightless dung Beetle. The park affoe also presented in braille.
Main Camp Waterhole
At the main camp there s a floodlight viewing area that overlooks the waterhole for night viewing. The viewing area is easily accessed via the main path from the car park down a smooth gentle slope. Barriers are at a height that makes viewing easy from wheelchair height.
Another great feature of Addo is the bird hide situated just opposite the entrance to the viewing platform. Again the hide is accessed through a smooth pathway up a very gentle slope from the car park. Once inside all viewing slites have been design for a seated position. There is ample room either side of the provided seating for wheelchair users.
Accessible accommodation with roll in shower facilities are available at the main camp area. Addo can be very popular, especially in the main tourist seasons for it is advisable to book in advance. The park offers a truly great wildlife experience for people with disabilities.
The Whistler Blackcomb Mountain (WB) Peak to Peak Gondola is wheelchair accessible during the Summer Months and Winter with a new Sled to transport you to the Blackcomb Lodge at top during the snow season. Accessibility is an important feature of Whistler Blackcomb’s landmark project and Canada’s newest tourism icon.
The Peak to Peak Gondola breaks World RecordsSpanning the distance between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the new world record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is a breathtaking, 4.4-kilometre journey. The Peak to Peak was built to open this majestic alpine region to summer visitors. The journey between the two Mountains provides a 360-degree window into Whistler Blackcomb’s alpine environment, its surrounding peaks, changing seasons and wildlife habitat. The Peak to Peak has broken three world records.Longest unsupported span of 3.024 kilometresHighest lift of its kind at 436 metres above the valley floorCompletes the longest continuous lift system on the globe
Access Via the Village GondolaAccess to the Peak to Peak is via the Village Gondola. The Village Gondola can accommodate a person in a wheel chair, with accompanying party members. Guests can ride to the top of Whistler on the gondola and easily access the Roundhouse Restaurant, through a wheelchair accessible door. Wheelchair accessible washrooms and Pika's Restaurant are located on the first floor. An elevator exists to take you to the upper floor of the Roundhouse Restaurant and to Steep's Grill. From the roundhouse it is a flat path around to the Peak to Peak Gondola with a wide entry door and level loading into the Gondola.
Address: 2180 Ballarto Rd, Cardinia, AustraliaRetail Office: 17 Wells St, FrankstonToll Free: 1300 722 683Travel Agency: 03 9 781 3733Mobile: +61 4 1769 0533Email: email@example.com
Image: Travis Hayto Photography
with up to 45% off
Copyright © 2016 l Travability Pty. Ltd.. All rights reserved.