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Breaking Barriers: Ximuwu, the epitome of luxury and accessibility in Kruger National Park
By Tarryn Tomlinson

A woman in a wheelchair is being assisted by two men near a small helicopter in a field. The helicopter's tail number, ZS-RDC, suggests it may be registered in South Africa. The woman is wearing sunglasses, a cream-colored shirt, and black trousers. One man, wearing a camouflage shirt and black pants, is on the left, assisting her with something in her lap, possibly a bag or safety harness. The other man, dressed in a green shirt and beige shorts, is on the right, holding the wheelchair steady. The atmosphere appears calm, possibly post-flight, and they are all focused on the task at hand. The field behind them is vast and open, suggesting a rural or safari setting.
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As the golden sun begins to set over the vast plains of Kruger National Park, a sense of tranquility envelops Ximuwu Safari Lodge, the first universally accessible luxury safari lodge in the region. Nestled in the heart of the bush, Ximuwu stands as a testament to overcoming challenges, providing an inclusive haven for all. In an exclusive interview with Elly Suverein, the passionate owner of Ximuwu, we delve into the journey that led to the creation of this extraordinary retreat.

Defying the odds – an unexpected inspiration

“Why go through all the expense and difficulty to build the lodge?” I inquire, curious about the driving force behind Ximuwu’s commitment to accessibility. Elly, an able-bodied woman with a mission, begins to recount a personal experience that changed the course of her life.

“Yes, South Africa was inaccessible for a considerable period,” Elly acknowledges, “but recent years have seen significant improvement. The decision to make our lodge not only luxurious but also accessible was driven by a personal experience.” Her husband’s journey, marked by a failed back operation resulting in him using a wheelchair, became the catalyst for this transformation.

Elly’s eyes reflect the depth of her conviction as she shares, “We became acutely aware of the challenges of travel in general. It was an eye-opener, not just in terms of the physical challenges but also in how people often treat you. We also discovered that there was a lack of a truly accessible luxury safari lodge in South Africa at that time.”

Sharing the dream of bush living

Living in the bush for almost seven years, Elly and her husband Patrick found solace and beauty in the peaceful embrace of nature. “What is it about Kruger that makes you want to share your home with others?” I inquire, eager to understand the motivation behind opening their doors to fellow travellers.

“It’s truly a dream to reside in such a peaceful place, and we continue to appreciate it daily,” Elly enthuses. “After enjoying our dream life for this extended period, we felt a desire to share this experience with others. Going on a safari is a dream for both abled and disabled individuals. Fortunately, we can now share our piece of paradise with everyone.”

Overcoming safari fears – a personal invitation

“To the person reading this who has always dreamed of going on a safari but is afraid to come because they are afraid of the logistics, what would you say?” I pose this question, envisioning the countless dreamers who hesitate due to concerns about accessibility.

Elly responds with empathy, “I understand if you’re hesitant about going on a safari trip. It’s a long journey, and you’ve likely had many experiences where the promised accommodations fell short. However, I can assure you that if you’re able to fly, we can provide an experience you’ll never forget.”

With a warm smile, Elly paints a vivid picture of inclusivity, saying, “You won’t be left out of any activities. Picture yourself effortlessly transferring from your chair into the open game viewer or joining in on a bush breakfast—we have a mobile ramp to assist you. You can enjoy a massage at our accessible spa or capture incredible moments from our accessible photographic bunker. We can’t wait to welcome you to Ximuwu.”

As the interview concludes, the vision of Ximuwu Safari Lodge emerges as a beacon of hope and possibility, breaking down barriers and inviting everyone to partake in the enchanting allure of Kruger National Park. This luxurious haven is not just a lodge; it’s a testament to the transformative power of personal experiences and the unwavering commitment to making dreams come true for all.  |

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