There's been great progress with accessible travel, but there's much more to do.
Wheelchair accessible vacations in India
India’s rich and diverse culture, its historic architecture and vivid landscapes, not to mention the varied exotic sensory experiences that come from traveling in different regions, are gradually becoming more accessible. That goes double, of course, when you travel with specialist operators that take the accessibility requirements of individual travelers into full account throughout every trip.
All itineraries are completely tailormade, according to detailed pre-trip discussion so that you can be confident your needs will be met. Personalised and professional assistance is available whether you wish to travel solo or not, and all hotel rooms meet international accessibility standards, though when accommodations are in rural areas, such as homestays, you should expect things to be more basic.
Restaurants are carefully assessed beforehand to ensure that they are wheelchair accessible and of course there is plenty of flexibility when it comes to your travel dates too, for instance if you feel more comfortable in cooler weather. Private transport is carefully arranged according to the accessibility needs of every member of the group, as is the nature of every attraction or activity.
Where to go on a wheelchair accessible vacation in India
Kerala – ‘God’s own country’
Poised at India’s southern tip on the Malabar Coast, Kerala is sometimes known as ‘God’s own country’. It is said that it was created when the Hindu god Lord Vishnu flung an axe across the sea, creating a new land for his followers to live in harmony.
And yes, in case you were wondering, Kerala lives up to the title and beyond. Here you have around 600km of idyllic coastline with golden beaches, then behind them a labyrinthine network of canals and waterways – a short houseboat cruise on the Kerala backwaters is an unforgettable highlight of trips here. Then moving further inland you have the Western Ghats, on whose slopes farmers plant tea and spices, the Periyar tiger reserve in Thekkady where macaques chatter in the forests, and where barking deer, elephants and even leopards roam, as well as Bengal tigers of course.
You might tour blissfully peaceful rural villages and balmy hill stations, take a crash course in fusing Indian spices with a cookery lesson from a local chef, or indulge in some of those famous Ayurvedic wellness treatments. And of course at every stage, a wonderful sense of inclusivity, your enjoyment and participation not limited in the slightest by the fact you’re in a wheelchair.
Our Wheelchair accessible vacations Vacations
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Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – the Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is probably the most iconic route in all of India, taking you around many of the country’s most famous and incomparable sights from the Taj Mahal, ‘the greatest monument to love every built’ to the magnificent pink city of Jaipur.
Over the course of a 10-day itinerary that packs a great deal in despite a relaxed approach, you will explore the sprawling Mehrauli Archaeological Park in Delhi with over 100 historic monuments, as well as the capital’s many temples and prestigious mausoleums; the Agra Fort, actually more of a walled city and once the seat of the Mughal Empire, and of course the spectacular Taj Mahal, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and India’s most recognisable building.
But for many travelers it’s those moments in the gaps between landmarks that make the Golden Triangle such a treasure, and a wheelchair-accessible tour is no exception. You will lunch with a local family, learning about folk traditions, visit an elephant rescue center and perhaps help to bathe the animals, and dine on ethnic cuisine at a cafe run by acid attack victims, a heartbreaking and inspirational experience in equal measure as you discover their determination and entrepreneurship.
Neha Arora from accessible travel specialist Planet Abled on what to expect from wheelchair accessible tours in India:
No restrictions“The whole concept of Planet Abled is to give people with disabilities and the elderly the freedom to travel just like anyone else. Whether they want to travel solo, go on a romantic getaway with their partner, travel with family and kids or travel with their friends or colleagues or travel with a group, it’s all possible. Itineraries are based on various themes like heritage, cultural immersion, wellness, spirituality or even adventure activities like white water rafting, zip lining, trekking or skiing, they can travel wherever they want, whenever they want, with whomsoever they want, no restrictions.”
Accessible transport“We choose our vehicles depending upon the number of travelers and their disabilities. For single travelers and smaller groups we use a MUV such as a Toyota Innova for safety and comfort. For larger groups, and groups where no-one has a mobility impairment, we use a larger vehicle such as a Tempo Travelller. We may also split the group between different vehicles if we consider it necessary to meet the needs of everyone. When people cannot transfer at all to the vehicle then we use a wheelchair accessible vehicle where the chair can actually be rolled in – naturally this is a more expensive option so there is a supplementary cost.”
Wheelchair accessible Kerala cruises“The length of a Kerala backwaters cruise depends on the level of mobility of the traveler. If they can manage in a regular Western-style washroom then we can stay for a longer duration on the boat, in some cases overnight if the traveler is comfortable and it’s convenient for them. If they cannot then the boat ride is usually kept to around two to three hours, as an accessible washroom is not available onboard yet.”
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