10 Amazing Tour Companies That Specialize in Accessible Travel

These tour companies go above and beyond to make adventure accessible to everyone.

January 15, 2020
By: Kassondra Cloos

Photo By: Mick Habgood/Moment/Getty Images

Photo By: Pedro Paredes-Haz / Cascada Expediciones

Photo By: Joyce Silberstein / Wheel the World

Photo By: Ernesto Millan

Photo By: Courtesy of Curb Free with Cory Lee

Photo By: Courtesy of Curb Free with Cory Lee

Photo By: Courtesy of Curb Free with Cory Lee

Photo By: Ernesto Velazquez from Pixabay

Photo By: Rob Suisted

Photo By: InsideJapan Tours

Photo By: Courtesy of Shannon Carlson

Travel for All

If you have special needs or are planning to travel with someone who does, many travel companies can take care of all the frustrating pieces for you. The companies on this list think of everything: They have founders or staff members who use wheelchairs or staff members have personally tried the routes while using a wheelchair to make sure it’s fully accessible. They’ve created special saddles or wheelchairs, bring portable ramps with them to open up otherwise inaccessible shops and restaurants and they’ve considered all the small but significant details that make travel easier and more enjoyable for all participants.

EcoCamp Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park in Chile

EcoCamp Patagonia is a sustainable dome hotel in Chile’s famous Torres del Paine National Park that worked with Wheel the World to create a special hiking wheelchair that enables guests who use wheelchairs to visit remote — and stunning — stretches of the backcountry. The wheelchair requires two people to pull it on milder sections of trail, and three to four people on more strenuous hikes. Guests who need to use the wheelchair are asked to bring one friend or family member with them to help pull it. EcoCamp Patagonia also works with local organizations to create sustainability-focused experiences that cater to blind and visually-impaired people who want to connect with the landscape on a deeper level.

Wheel the World

Wheel the World offers adventure trips for wheelchair users in Peru, Mexico, Chile — including experiences with EcoCamp Patagonia — South Africa, Europe, Tanzania and the United States. The company has specialized wheelchairs to make it possible for travelers to tackle many different kinds of terrain, including amphibious wheelchairs for water activities. Guests can go scuba diving, tandem kayaking, ziplining, take a safari and more. Wheel the World offers many multi-day trips with set departures but can also tailor any trip to suit the exact needs of you and your family or group of friends.

How Not To Travel Like a Basic B

What started as a blog and Instagram account targeted at helping people become more informed travelers has more recently launched ultra-inclusive educational tours in Cuba. HNTTLABB works to make these trips like study abroad programs for adults, using local guides and experts to teach about Cuban history and show how the country isn’t actually “stuck in time” as so many people say it is. The company makes sure each of its departures includes an ethnically diverse group of people and works with each guest individually ahead of the trip to make sure their needs are met. The tours can’t accommodate wheelchairs but they can work with anyone who is able to climb stairs. They bring extra guides to help people with mobility issues and work hard to make sure people with invisible disabilities, like fibromyalgia and chronic joint pain, feel comfortable, supported and included. HNTTLABB is also launching trips specifically for people who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and for women who identify as plus-sized.

Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants

Travel blogger Cory Lee, who runs the blog Curb Free with Cory Lee about traveling with a motorized wheelchair, said he never thought he’d be able to visit Morocco. But Morocco Accessible Travel Consultants put together the trip of a lifetime for him. They figured out the most wheelchair-accessible paths through the crowded city center of Fes and brought along a portable ramp so he could enter shops and restaurants that had a step up. But the highlight of Cory's trip may have been riding a camel. The company created a saddle for wheelchair users that Lee says was surprisingly comfortable and smooth. “I’ll never forget being up on top of the camel, looking out and seeing all of those sand dunes,” he says. “It was a really emotional and really cool experience.”

Enable India

Cory Lee says the Taj Mahal was on his bucket list for quite some time before he ever thought it would be possible to go there. Thankfully, the world has gotten far more accessible in recent years, he says, and tour operator Enable Travel India made it possible for him to visit. They brought around a portable ramp so he could get into shops and attractions that otherwise would not have been accessible, and booked luxury hotels that were easy to navigate with his wheelchair.

Iceland Unlimited

Iceland Unlimited specializes in accessible multi-day tours in Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The company was founded by Jón Gunnar Benjamínsson, a former guide who was paralyzed from the waist down after a serious car accident. Because he is a wheelchair user himself, Lee says Iceland Unlimited has thought of everything and their trips run smoothly. The company offers both guided trips and self-guided tours created for wheelchair users. Upon request, they can procure rental cars operated with hand controls. Each of their experiences is rated on their website as “moderate,” “challenging,” or “not recommended” for wheelchair users, so travelers have accessibility information up front when booking. Lee has traveled to Iceland with the company and highly recommends them.

Sage Traveling

Sage Traveling was founded by John Sage, who has used a wheelchair since he was injured in a skiing accident at the age of 22 in 2001. Since then, he’s visited over 140 European cities. Sage Traveling creates custom trips in Europe that its founder has personally vetted for accessibility. Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Rome are among their most popular destinations, as well as some of their cruises in the Baltic and western Mediterranean, but their list of available destinations includes dozens of cities. Their sister travel company Accessible Carribbean Vacations offers accessible cruises and shore excursions.

Ability Adventures New Zealand

Ability Adventures crafts custom tours in New Zealand for people with disabilities of all kinds. They can cater to people with mobility challenges, provide sign language interpreters and source exactly the kind of vehicle you may need. The company does guided trips and also crafts custom itineraries for self-guided tours.

InsideJapan Tours

InsideJapan Tours creates custom trips to Japan, which is one of the world’s most wheelchair-accessible countries. Aside from travelers with mobility issues, InsideJapan says they can also work with individuals and groups to meet needs unrelated to mobility, such as sight- and hearing-impaired travelers and people with chronic pain, heart conditions or illnesses that require special attention. One example of a trip they’re running in 2020 is their 10-night Wheelchair-Accessible Golden Route, which focuses on Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka and includes a trip to Mt. Fuji.

Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte

The Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte is one of many local organizations in the US that runs adventure day trips for adaptive athletes. This non-profit offers paddlesports, ice climbing, skiing, cycling, hiking, rock climbing and more. Other organizations around the US that offer similar programing include the National Ability Center in Park City, Oregon Adaptive Sports in Bend and Environmental Traveling Companions in San Francisco, which offers whitewater rafting among other sports.

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