Thursday, 27 October 2016

Lilizela Tourism Award - National winner!


We did it! Thanks to all of your continued support over the past 16 years!


We won the NATIONAL Lilizela UNIVERSAL ACCESSIBILITY Award: Experience General!

From all @ Epic Enabled & Epic Guest House, thank you to the Lilizela Tourism Awards and to all of you that voted for us! We're very proud and really appreciate this honour! 
Thank you all for your support!
This year we decided to try and see where South Africa ranks us and we entered this the Lilizela Awards for the first time. 

The Lilizela Awards is South Africa’s premier Travel and Tourism Awards recognizing and rewarding those who work passionately and with pride to deliver a world-class product & service.

We are very humbled by this recognition! THANK YOU!
Alfie & Sabine




Friday, 21 October 2016

Amazing African Sunsets

Picture by Cory Lee
Cory Lee from Curb Free was on our last October Kruger Safari, joined by the Magnusson Family from Sweden, Ann from the USA and returning clients Dagmar & Brigitte from Germany.
A truly international EPIC group :)
Inside the truck, game viewing.
From left to right: Hanna, Dagmar, Cory, Gunnar
As for so many of our client, travelling from overseas to the "tip of Africa" can be a bit daunting and a leap of faith even for experience travellers. However you can ask any of our 'friends', it is a truly EPIC experience and you will not only make lifelong memories and new friends, it will also boost your confidence and realization that you can do it!

Cory is a travel writer and is documenting his travelling experiences. You can read some valuable tips on how to prepare for an African Safari on Cory's blog:
How to prepare - South Africa safari
Almost ready - 11 days South Africa

This group was again blessed with great wildlife sightings, including the Big 5 and some additional incredible animal encounters.
A little orphaned bush baby has settled in very nicely at the Bush Camp and feels right at home - hopping from shoulder to shoulder!
Cory with Bushbaby
Of course Ntombi was again very much seeking attention (which we of course give her :). She just loves to hang around the Bush Camp withing the safety of her humans. Her 2 mischievous brothers are only leaving her in peace when there is a human to 'referee', therefore Ntombi has made the bush camp HER home.
From left to right: Dagmar, Hanna, Ewa, Cory & Brigitte
Front and centre attraction: Ntombi ☺
Private Reserve Boma evening
Here is a great link to the video Cory made of the safari:
Wheelchair Accessible Safari in South Africa, by Cory Lee

Gunnar, Ewa & Hanna carried on with the Cape Town extension. The weather played along perfectly and on the last day we had the perfect weather for Table Mountain! Mojo, our German Shepherd- Malamute mix, won their harts over immediately with his very gentle nature and overall cuteness.

Mojo - cuteness itself!
Cosmo & Mojo




















It was a great pleasure meeting you all on our October tour and sharing some of the incredible sights, sounds and wildlife our wonderful South Africa has to offer! 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The EPIC - MundoRado 8 year collaboration


2016 saw our 8 year anniversary working with MundoRado Reizen, who, like us, are also passionate about enabling travel for people with disabilities. We started our collaboration back in Aug 2008 and this September we welcomed their 8th private group in as many years with fourteen people, ready to be amazed by our incredible South African wildlife, culture and scenery!


That is not to say they’re all new to South Africa: Hillie, the tour guide appointed by MundoRado, has been with us once before, but this time she was assisted by Jenny (part of MundoRado's office Information and Reservations team), which was great to add a face to all the e-mail conversations we had and we are sure that this experience was a welcome change from office life too!


As per usual, Epic took excellent care of our travellers - not even a hand injury by Corrie, which she sustained on her flight over to South Africa, could stop her from exploring, as we took her to see an excellent doctor nearby. Soon she had re-joined everyone else on their trip to the iconic Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela famously spent much of his twenty-seven years as a prisoner.

Up in the Kruger, the group enjoyed seeing Ntombi the cheetah at the Bush Camp and her two brothers (on a game walk) who, like most male cheetahs, are seemingly inseparable!
We were lucky again and saw all of the big 5 on this tour as well as many of the less famous animals. Jessica the famous hippo was again very happy to receive all the attention from everybody and very patiently posed for all the photos.

It was great meeting you all:
Mr Jan de Priester, Mrs Tineke Heeres, Mrs Frederique van Daele, Mrs Marleen van der Veen, Mrs Corrie Eijkelenboom, Mrs Ellie Meijdam, Mrs Joyce Hamme, Mrs Wil Huisman, Mrs Veerle Heijlen, Mr Bert Stegink, Mr Toon Beckman, Mrs Geranne van der Haar, Mrs Hillie Paping & Mrs Jenny Zegers ☺    

A special THANK YOU to Barbara Van Eck for your continued support!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Befriending Cheetahs and Tasting Zebra: An Epic Experience

 
In September 2016, Epic has yet again enabled an exhilarating experience, this time for a group of travellers from England, The Netherlands and a huge family from all across America.


On the tour, they saw first-hand just how multi-dimensional and unique South Africa truly is. Robin (from a small town in California) recalls the time when they were lucky enough to see a pack of African wild dogs along the road leading out of the Kruger National Park, a sighting that “pretty much trumped any other sightings I had”, she says. Camille from Wisconsin enjoyed the beautiful days in the Stellenbosch vineyards sampling fine wines, as well as the breathtaking panoramic views of Cape Town from atop Table Mountain.


Photo by Robin
Indeed, this was a trip of new experiences: Robin tasted ostrich for the first time. Hayden, from a small town in Nevada, tried a dish of zebra meat! Of the zebra, Camille notes that it tastes similar to steak and is not nearly as gamey as venison is (and that the food in South Africa is delicious and far cheaper than in the US!). 


Photo by Hayden

Zebra may be a meal that Ntombi the Cheetah would enjoy! Introduced as private game reserve's mascot, Ntombi (who has been hand-reared ever since she lost her mother) greeted the guests by allowing them to stroke and pet her. Getting this close to a wild animal (she roams and hunts in the wild) was definitely a thrilling, unforgettable experience - and it was not the only close encounter!

Bushbabies, porcupines and genets were among the regular visitors to the campsite. This particular bunch of critters has become quite comfortable with people: some of them are bold enough to steal a few sips of your drink right from the cup (and then steal your heart by being friendly and cute, of course)! If that’s not cute enough for you, our guests also witnessed a newborn elephant trying to gain balance while having a mud bath, and some newborn hyena cubs being groomed by their mom (aww!).



Of course, an African safari is not going to be all small, fluffy creatures. The Big Five were all spotted: majestic lions, elusive leopards and stoic buffalo. Upon seeing two male rhinos fighting, one traveller says that he was surprised they were so quiet whilst engaging in their tussle; he expected to hear grunting, snorting and generally angry sounds and not just the sounds of horns clashing.


Good thing that they all came down to Cape Town and had a day’s rest at Epic Guesthouse! Ineke and Maria from The Netherlands relaxed underneath the spring sunshine on the balcony, the fresh Noordhoek air and sea views a welcome change. There is definitely something different about the atmosphere as you get nearer to the southernmost tip of the continent: many researchers say that the air at Cape Point is of the cleanest and purest in the world.


The tour was an all-round success. New friends were made amidst the new experiences (everyone particularly enjoyed the jokes of Mary from the UK). Camille says that South Africa is truly a magical place, and Hayden loved Table Mountain so much that she didn’t want to leave.  


You could experience all this and more for yourself! Visit epic-enabled.com to see all we have to offer - see you soon!

Until then, here's an interactive map of the adventures had this month (and that you could experience too!)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Amazing True Stories of African Animal Heroes: Part 2

The animals of Africa are the heroes of many old folktales - and many real-life tales. We have already rounded up and illustrated some of these stories on our blog, and, because the animals of Africa are so great, there have been even more incredible feats.

Enjoy these three true stories about the real-life animals heroes of this epic continent!

1. The Lions' Protection


In Ethiopia, not so long ago, a little girl was kidnapped by a group of evil men. They held her captive for a week, until three lions came to her rescue!
Defying their reputations for being ruthless attackers, the lions kept the little girl safe from harm until she was found by the police and her family. Upon the other humans' arrival, the lions humbly retreated into the forest.


2)  The Mothering Instincts of the Chimpanzee



A chimpanzee baby was seemingly not like the others. This baby had weaker legs, was much smaller and couldn't keep her mouth closed. The poor baby also had a growth on her stomach and could not eat solid foods.
Mother chimp showed amazing patience with her little daughter. She fed her milk long after all the other babies her age had moved on to eating solids. She refused to allow others to take of her, with the exception of one of her other daughters. She made do with using just three limbs to climb trees so she could hold her little girl.
Without her love, the little chimpanzee baby would not have survived for as long as she did (sadly, she died before the age of two, possibly due to malnutrition).

3) The Lioness versus the Crocodile


A lioness was one among her tribe needing to cross a river - a river with a deadly crocodile lurking in its waters. In a split second, she had her claws out, her teeth bared and she was fighting the crocodile! Her front legs gripped the crocodile's jaws as she dunked the beast below the waters! The crocodile tried to to bite her, but in vain. He ran away in fear, and all the cubs and the other lions could go about their day.

Sources/Image Credits (images displayed are re-imaginings composed by Epic):
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jinterwas/5995124588
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/8305836/ns/world_news-africa/t/ethiopian-girl-reportedly-guarded-lions/#.V9erBK2kptU
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/lionness-fends-off-alliga_n_1701939.html
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/tanzania-wild-chimp-found-caring-her-infant-down-syndrome-1528579


 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

African Folklore Collection: Volume 2

Since July was inspired by superheroes and superheroics (in honour of Comic Con), we at Epic recalled some folklore tales from our continent that we felt fit the theme. The animals in these stories are totally worthy of being called heroes - read about their feats below!

How Eagle Saved Monkey from Hyena


A Ghanaian folktale tells the story of a Hyena who fell into a trap in the ground and could not get out. He cried for help, but he had such a bad reputation for being treacherous that all the passers-by refused. Until, finally, kindly Monkey heard his cries and lent a helping hand, despite his instincts. And, true to everybody's suspicions, Hyena attacked Monkey!
Eagle flew overhead and spotted the struggle. He swooped down and pulled Monkey away from Hyena, then demanded to know what was going on. Monkey explained what Hyena did. Eagle wanted to see exactly what had happened and asked Hyena to recreate the scenario. Hyena obliged, and got climbed back in the trap, realizing too late that Eagle had tricked him to save Monkey!

How Zebra Got His Stripes


A Bushman folktale tells the story of how the zebra got his stripes - by saving the animals' only water supply from the villianous baboon! 
The baboon had claimed the watering hole for himself, and to chase the thirsty animals away, he lit a big fire next to the water. 
One day, the zebra, his coat gleaming a pure white in the burning sun, approached the water, wanting a drink. The baboon, angry, shooed him away, but the zebra rightfully said that the water belonged to everyone. And so, they fought for it, and the battle raged, until the zebra kicked the baboon so hard that the baboon went flying - and the zebra lost his balance and fell into the scorching flames of the baboon's fire! The burning sticks and logs seared black stripes into his fur, and to this day, the zebra wears these markings as a badge of honour.

How the Hare Saved the Animals


There's a story of a hare that saved all the animals from becoming the lion's dinner. The lion had requested that each day, an animal must be brought to him to eat, or he'd hunt them all down. The animals had obliged, each one living in fear that their turn to be dinner would be next. One day, it was the hare's turn, but instead of shaking in fear, he smiled knowingly, and just before presenting himself, he rolled in the dirt, covering himself in mud. The lion turned his nose up at the unappetizing creature,, and the hare told him that he was supposed to deliver a big juicy hare, but another lion stole it from him! And, just as the hare suspected, the lion wanted to jealously fight this other lion, so hare led him to a well, pointed at lion's reflection and told him that was his foe. The lion jumped in head-first, and never resurfaced.

Follow us on social media and look out for the #FolkloreThursday hashtag! We're on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Friday, 26 August 2016

5 Fun DIY Clothing Hacks (For Better Accessibility)




We all know that with the ever-evolving fashion landscape, looking your best can be a pain. As clothing seems to get fiddlier, fussier and more frustrating, it’s easy to become more and more disenchanted with the sartorial world - particularly if you have a limited range of mobility to deal with.


We’ve found some ways to ease your daily dressing - here’s our collection of inexpensive and easy DIY projects, tricks and hacks.

  1. Grip a tricky zip - and add some custom flair!

     


Slip a pendant or charm onto the hole of your zipper with a keyring.

Not only is this quick method great for making a larger zipper pull, but you can give any drab jacket a cute feature, too!


  1. Pull up pants easily


Make high-waisted pants (or even hipster pants) easy to put on by attaching fabric loops to the inside of the waistband.

If you’re not good at sewing, fabric glue is an easy alternative.

  1. Create glittens - convertable gloves



Unusual and functional (and less uncool than zip-off pants!), these are great for winter days when you have to access your phone, but taking off and putting gloves back on is a hassle.

You can customize an existing pair of gloves (just cut the fingers off), or you can make these from scratch with this pattern.


  1. Never struggle with buttons again…



Stick velcro behind your buttons! Even if you don’t struggle with tiny shirt buttons, getting them all even on the first go is still not always easy.

You can use felt instead of the soft part of the velcro for less bulk.

  1. ...Or with laces!



Use an elasticated cord to lace your shoes, and never have to deal with tying and untying and knots and bows and all that trouble.

Now you have perfectly chic slip-on sneakers!


Will you be trying these out? Let us know how it goes!


Art by Jessica


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

4 Incredible Female Disability and Gender Equality Activists from Africa

Every year on August 9th, South Africa honours women: we celebrate the everyday women, the  mothers, the daughters, the career-women, the caregivers, the teachers - all women, who are all bettering the country every day.


This year, Epic is especially inspired by women with disabilities throughout Africa: 4 powerful women who are achieving truly great things for women, with and without disabilities. Here are their stories:


  1. Shelley Barry

Shelley was travelling with a friend in 1996 on on one of the minibus taxis widely used by millions of commuters around South Africa. In a rare turn of bad luck, a gunfight broke out between two rival taxi groups, and a bullet struck Shelley, rendering her paralyzed ever since (her friend had survived the taxi violence, too).

Now a wheelchair user, Shelley has forged a successful career in media, simultaneously making a name as a unique visionary and as a voice for people with disabilities (her films are often shot from the perspective of a wheelchair user). Among other achievements, she was a driving force behind the HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns aired on local television station eTV, has addressed the United Nations in New York City, is an anti-gun lobbyist, and has won many many international awards for her films. She has also written plays about the oppression of women (“Insignificant Others” and “En Route to Bury Sara Baartman”).

As if all that wasn’t enough, she’s also worked as the Media Manager in the Office on the Status of Disabled Persons in the Presidency in South Africa, and as the National Parliamentary Policy Co-Ordinator for Disabled People South Africa during Nelson Mandela’s presidency.

She also has founded Two Spinning Wheels Productions and is a lecturer in film studies at the University of the Western Cape. Shelley is proof of art’s role in creating and inspiring social change, and just how important art is in a society.
You can see some of her work on her YouTube channel.

  1. Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame

    http://s160131.gridserver.com/wp-content/uploads/gertrude-oforiwa-fefoame.jpg
    www.cehjournal.org

Ghanaian gender and disability activist Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame lost her eyesight as a child, and knows first-hand about the struggles facing women with disabilities in a developing country. She studied to become a special education teacher and also hold an executive master’s degree in governance and leadership.

She currently works as a Global Advocacy Advisor for Sightsavers, an international NGO working in developing countries to treat avoidable blindness, and also as Vice Chairperson for ICEVI Africa.
Gertrude recognizes the intersections of the different identities she speaks for and is a part of: being a woman with a disability in a developing African country comes with its own unique set of challenges, and Gertrude’s work is not unrecognized: the Ghanaian government’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection nominated Gertrude for a position on the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Her work goes to show that anybody, born anywhere under any circumstances, has the potential to shape their world.

  1. Yetnebersh Nigussie


http://www.yegara.com/am/sites/default/files/styles/facebook_size/public/12240087_1484549341854765_4029046066471709399_n.jpg?itok=iK1GkyDI
www.yegara.com
Yetnebersh Nigussie was only five years old and living in the rural Amhara Saint Wollo when she lost her eyesight. She considers this her blessing: able-bodied young girls are often subjected to early marriages. She was afforded an opportunity to attend a boarding school for the blind and then the opportunity to attend high school, something which less than 20% of teenagers have access to in her region.


She’s put her education to more-than-good use: during her schooling, she chaired at least 6 students’ clubs at her high school, and founded the Addis Ababa University Female Students Association and chaired the university’s Anti-AIDS movement in the mid-2000’s.

Now an attorney, she’s volunteered for over 20 organizations, which led to her local organization Ethiopian Centre for Disability and Development. The organization works with other notable Ethiopians to include and empower people with disabilities in development programmes.

This is particularly difficult in Ethiopia: Yetnebersh has said in 2014 “In Ethiopia, I’m not sure if you are aware, we have a new law that was passed three years ago, and that law requires organizations receiving funds from abroad not to engage in disability rights and awareness.”

Despite the obstacles, Yetnebersh has achieved a lot for her country. One of those that she’s most proud of is helping to ensure that all new buildings are required by law to be accessible to people with disabilities. She’s also opened up the Yetnebersh Academy, a school for underprivileged children. She says, “I think the more challenges we have, the more innovative minds there will be to tackle them better. I believe that one day we will have a world for all.


  1. Chaeli Mycroft

    http://www.kidsrights.org/portals/1/IMG_9753.jpg?ver=2016-01-08-143021-307
    www.kidsrights.org
Michaela “Chaeli” Mycroft has been a force for disability causes since she was nine. The South African young activist was born with cerebral palsy, and her upward trajectory along the path of disability rights started when she and her sisters and their friends successfully raised over R20,000 (~$2,400) for a motorized wheelchair, which Chaeli had needed. This success, achieved by selling cards and flower pots, inspired Chaeli to found The Chaeli Campaign.
The Chaeli Campaign has since employed twenty people, and has won then-17-year-old Chaeli the 2011 International Children’s Peace Prize - the junior version of the Nobel Peace Prize. She was also the youngest finalist of the Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Woman of the Year Award - when she was ten - and in 2012 received a medal for Social Activism at the Nobel Laureate Peace Summit.

The Chaeli Campaign helps over 3000 children every year, providing much needed equipment and resources to children with disabilities in South Africa - from wheelchairs to food supplements. They also run weekly workshops which teach young adults craft skills and entrepreneurship skills: they make Sebezaphones and bean bags, and are paid for their craft.

Chaeli has said “We are all different and we all have the need to be accepted, regardless of having a disability or not.”.

We hope you enjoy this year’s Women’s Day! Never forget your power.


Sources: 
http://www.iamwomanseries.com/our-stories/season-2-all-episodes/episode-17-shelley-barry/
http://streettalktv.com/teammember/shelley-barry/
http://www.africanfilmny.org/2013/shelley-barry/
http://www.zoominfo.com/s/#!search/profile/person?personId=213743200&targetid=profile
https://twospinningwheels.wordpress.com/directors-bio/
http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com/land-and-people/2683-disability
http://chaelicampaign.co.za/
http://www.africanchildforum.org/site/_archived/index.php/disabilitysymposium/295-ms-gertrude-oforiwa-fefoame.html
http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/manifestation-of-gender-inequality-no-woman-elected-onto-un-committee.html
http://www.wickedlocal.com/x1465131669/Fenn-students-raise-money-for-children-in-Ghana 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yetnebersh_Nigussie
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/jun/22/10-activists-changing-lives-disabled-people-around-world
http://www.tadias.com/06/17/2014/yetnebersh-nigussie-advocates-for-inclusion-for-people-with-disabilities-in-ethiopia/
http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---africa/documents/publication/wcms_237420.pdf

Monday, 1 August 2016

African Folklore Collection: Volume 1

Every Thursday, Epic likes to discover and share ancient African tales: of animals, magical beings and fantastic happenings.
The lush, diverse African continent is full of these tales and they deserve to be preserved - so we've collected all of the ones we've posted onto our social media channels so far, with more to follow.

Here's the first volume, first posted in June 2016:

The Elephant's Trunk


The elephant used to have a small snout, which he liked, but it made feeding uncomfortable as he'd often have to use his knees. One day, while drinking water at the river, he caught the attention of a crocodile, who decided that the elephant looked very tasty. He sneaked towards the elephant beneath the water, lunged forward and grabbed the elephant's snout. Luckily, the elephant was too strong for the crocodile to pull him beneath the water, and he stood his ground. The crocodile was relentless and only after an hours-long tug of war did he give up - leaving the poor elephant with a stretched-out nose.

The Ostrich and the Jealous Lions


There's an old Bushmen tale of some proud male lions who were jealous of the ostriches, for all the lionesses admired the ostriches' voice. The lions were belittled by their women, who said they spoke as if they had their tails in their mouths.
The lions thus conspired to tear at the ostriches' chests and rip out their lungs, in the hopes that eating the lungs would grant them a voice as deep and as full as the lionesses liked. 
Today, the lions all love to show off their famous roars.

Mermaids of the Karoo


Rumours and legends about mermaids and merfolk have been swirling around Southern Africa for millennia. In the Klein Karoo, the home of the ancient Khoisan people, are rock paintings of mermaids - perhaps strange for a rather dry part of South Africa, until you remember that 250 million years ago, the Klein Karoo used to be an ocean! Still, more recently, are local claims of mermaids combing their hair by little rock pools.

You can find more stories by exploring the African Folklore tag, and you can stay up to date by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook - look out for the #FolkloreThursday hashtag!