28 accessible adventures anyone can have

The nation's most-visited national park is also one of the best for leaf peeping. The fall colors in the Great Smoky Mountains arrive as early as mid-September at higher elevations and work their way down. Take a drive along Clingmans Dome Road or the Blue Ridge Parkway for a good look.
America’s national parks offer visitors inspiring and affordable ways to unplug and reconnect with nature. Although not every state has a national park, the National Park Service also oversees national monuments, national historic sites, and national rivers, among other areas. Some parks are iconic, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite, and others are underrated and lightly visited. This list highlights 50 must-see destinations — the best the country has to offer. National parks often charge an entrance fee that grants seven days of access and costs up to $35 a vehicle. An interagency annual pass provides access to all the national parks and other federal fee areas for $80. Seniors 62 or older can buy a lifetime passes for $80 and annual passes for $20. Members of the military are eligible for free annual passes. Fee-free days also are offered occasionally during the year, including Sept. 22 for National Public Lands Day and Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Slide 1 of 29: For intrepid travelers who want to spend their lives exploring the world, age or ability should be no barrier to experiencing the incredible things this planet has to offer. We’ve taken a look at some of the world’s most bucket list-worthy trips that can be done by almost any adventurer. Here are 28 of our favorite accessible travel experiences.
Slide 2 of 29: The word “trek” might sound off-putting, but gorilla trekking in Uganda is surprisingly accessible. If you wish to see mountain gorillas in the wild but are less able-bodied, you can now be carried into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in a sedan chair, traveling deep into the forest to come face-to-face with these wild primates.
Slide 3 of 29: Safaris don’t have to be in bumpy 4x4 vehicles: for a smoother ride that’s perhaps even more spectacular, choose a flying safari. An airborne adventure with Aardvark Safaris will take you to some of the remotest areas of Namibia, or across the Serengeti in Tanzania. You'll fly over gorgeous landscapes before landing to spend the day wildlife watching and learning about the local culture.
Slide 4 of 29: While hiking to the top of Cape Town’s magnificent Table Mountain is an option, it’s certainly a tiring one. Instead, take the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, which will whisk you to the top in just five minutes. Once you reach the dizzying heights of Cape Town’s most famous mountain, enjoy fantastic views of the city, join a free guided walk and enjoy spotting a range of wildlife, from lizards to rock hyrax (known locally as dassies).
Slide 5 of 29: Take Switzerland’s most scenic train journey, winding through picturesque peaks, green meadows and postcard-pretty villages on foot, or by train on the Bernina Express. Ramblers Walking Holidays offers a nine-day trip that visits five small villages, with the option to hop on and off the train as you choose along the way. This means you can get the best of both worlds, enjoying the stunning views from a carriage when you're too tired to walk.
Slide 6 of 29: Even if you’re physically unable to do a guided walk of Zimbabwe’s majestic Victoria Falls or take a dip in Zambia’s Devil’s Pool, you can still tick Victoria Falls off your bucket list on a thrilling helicopter flight with Giltedge Africa. Hop on board and gaze outside at the Zambezi gorge, beautiful baobab trees, the Batoka Gorge and, of course, the epic falls themselves.
Slide 7 of 29: If you want the benefits of mountain walking without the physical strain, consider a trip to Mont Blanc with Adagio. You'll enjoy a glacial backdrop of awesome peaks, including Mont Blanc, while using Chamonix Valley’s vast network of cable cars, tramways and trains making sure the beautiful views are accessible for all kinds of traveler. A flexible lift pass is included, so you can opt in and out of walks and other activities as you please.
Slide 8 of 29: Jumping out of a plane with nothing but a parachute on your back might sound like the kind of thing only extremely active travelers would be able to do, but in fact it’s surprisingly accessible. The record for the oldest skydiver in the world was 102 years old – set in 2017 – when Kenny Meyer jumped out of a plane in New Jersey, USA. You can also do a tandem jump if you’re in a wheelchair.
Slide 9 of 29: You don’t need to hike for several days to journey to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu. The easiest way to get there is aboard luxury train Belmond Hiram Bingham, which whisks passengers from Cusco to Machu Picchu in serious style. All the while, you’ll get phenomenal views, a gourmet lunch and traditional live music, before arriving at the ancient ruins.
Slide 10 of 29: Journey down the Amazon River in style on a beautiful boat with KE Adventure Travel. What you do once you’re on board is up to you: choose to join daily excursions to see exotic wildlife, visit a manatee rescue center or see the Amazon by night on an after-dark excursion. When it all gets too hot and humid – the rainforest is prone to high humidity – you can enjoy onboard presentations by experts. All excursions are included, and any walking involved is light enough for most.
Slide 11 of 29: For a truly once-in-a-lifetime adventure that anyone can do, book a ticket on the luxurious Scenic Eclipse for a 16-day cruise from Buenos Aires to the vast Antarctic Peninsula. With zodiac boats, kayaks, a helicopter and a submarine on board, there are plenty of opportunities for epic adventures, from exploring beautiful waterways to meeting colonies of penguins. Even if you don't disembark, it's still worth the trip with this untouched wilderness for a view.
Slide 12 of 29: Travel to remote and largely inaccessible regions in total comfort with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, which offers a trip on the Trans-Mongolian Express, journeying across Russia, combined with a visit to the Mongolian national festival. You’ll effectively be in a hotel on wheels, with fine-dining menus, fully guided sightseeing, on-board activities and carefully planned excursions. Guests are transported from the train to each site, making access suitable for all.
Slide 13 of 29: Don’t miss experiencing one of Iceland’s most visited attractions for yourself. The Blue Lagoon is popular with tourists wanting to experience the mineral-rich geothermal waters and, luckily, the lagoon is very accessible. There are wheelchair-accessible changing rooms, shower chairs available on request and a separate changing room for those with special needs. Guests can also enjoy a massage while floating in the lagoon.
Slide 14 of 29: Experience the wonder of Costa Rica’s rainforest without having to move a muscle with a two-hour boat safari down the lower Peñas Blancas River. The slow pace allows nature lovers to enjoy the tranquility of the rainforest, spotting and listening to a variety of wildlife in this tropical setting, while guides provide information about the animals and plants spotted en route. You're sure to catch sight of monkeys, toucans, lizards, caimans, iguanas and myriad species of birds.
Slide 15 of 29: Seeing the magical aurora borealis for yourself is an all-ages-appropriate adventure. Gondwana Ecotours carefully plans trips in Alaska for all kinds of traveler, using an 'aurora wake-up service' to make sure you get the most out of the skies. Hiking, snowshoeing and dog-sledding are options for more active travelers, and for those who would rather keep it simple, all you need to do to see the Northern Lights is simply step outside once you hear the aurora alarm. Guests with Gondwana see the lights at least once on every trip.
Slide 16 of 29: Over 6,288 feet above sea level, Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is often seen as a hiker’s destination – there's an eight-mile trek to the top. However, hiking isn’t the only way to reach the highest peak in the northeastern United States: ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway instead. The world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway, the train was built in 1869. The three-hour trip provides passengers with a history of The Cog as well as spectacular views on the way.
Slide 17 of 29: Despite the fact that the terrain at Grand Canyon is often rugged, rocky or narrow, there are plenty of ways to see the spectacular geological landmark for yourself. Get hold of a Scenic Drive Accessibility Permit at the entrance gate, which allows visitors with mobility issues access to some areas closed to public traffic. All hotels also have wheelchair-accessible rooms, and shuttle buses have wheelchair ramps.
Slide 18 of 29: Follow in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci and explore Umbria, Tuscany and Lake Trasimeno on an electric bike safari. The pedal assist provides 60% of the effort, meaning even if you’re not physically fit, you can still keep up with the group with ease. There are no hill climbs on the trip, so it’s all about taking in the views rather than working up a sweat.
Slide 19 of 29: You don’t need to be an able swimmer to make the most of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Of course, you can snorkel if you wish, but it’s also possible to view the reef from a semi-submersible reef viewer, glass-bottom boat or underwater observatory. You could also try a “Helmet Dive” for a scuba-style experience without getting your hair wet.
Slide 20 of 29: Often associated with hardy polar explorers and adrenalin junkies, Greenland is more accessible than you think if you visit with a tour company like Wild Photography Holidays. Join a small group photography tour to the world’s largest island and experience Greenland’s otherworldly landscape for yourself. There’s a bit of walking involved, but otherwise all of Greenland’s most photogenic areas are reached by transfers in traditional wooden fishing boats or by plane.
Slide 21 of 29: Accessible safari company Epic Enabled’s tagline is “Don’t let disability keep you from travelling”, and its aim is to provide barrier-free safaris for everyone. Take a trip to Kruger National Park to be in with a good chance of spotting some big game, have close animal encounters and see incredible sunsets, with trips planned carefully around your particular needs and adapted accommodation organized for you.
Slide 22 of 29: Physical ability isn’t a barrier to learning to scuba dive, with the weightlessness of the water offering those with disabilities a sense of freedom. Dive Ability is a charity that enables those with disabilities to discover the world of scuba diving, with a number of courses and scuba holidays abroad opening up the fascinating underwater world to people of all ages.
Slide 23 of 29: Three times older than Machu Picchu, the pre-Inca city of Kuélap is 9,800 feet above sea level in northern Peru, and it’s a spectacular place to visit, with more than 400 buildings to explore and phenomenal views of the cloud forest surrounding it. Previously, getting there necessitated a grueling hike, but new cable cars are now whisking visitors to the top in just 20 minutes.
Slide 24 of 29: One of the most phenomenal architectural achievements of all time, the Pyramids of Giza have to be seen to be believed. How the monumental structures were built is still a mystery, and whether you go inside or admire them from outside, the sheer size and magnitude of the pyramid complex will leave you speechless. Wheelchair users can organize an accessible excursion with London Cab Egypt, though it's not possible to go inside the pyramids if you need wheelchair assistance.
Slide 25 of 29: Soar over magnificent mountains on a paragliding experience in Oman, where you’ll see long, sandy beaches and glittering waters from the sky. The activity might seem daunting, but it doesn’t require any level of fitness and typically paragliding companies are able to make this suitable for people with physical disabilities. Slovenia's northern mountain ranges or Nepal's Himalayan peaks are some of the best for this kind of adrenalin adventure.
Slide 26 of 29: With ramps, elevators, lifts and step-free access, everyone can see the glory of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City for themselves. For a unique experience without the crowds, consider booking a private tour of the site, which will allow you to view the masterpiece after the usual hours of access.
Slide 27 of 29: Bungee jumping is one of the most terrifying ordeals a person could willingly put themselves through, but the experience is certainly not just for the young, able-bodied traveler. The oldest man to ever bungee jump was 96 year old, and it's even possible to experience the thrill in a wheelchair.
Slide 28 of 29: To see one of the world's most recognizable sculptures for yourself, head to South Dakota's Black Hills and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Take the wheelchair-accessible Presidential Trail, just over half a mile long, to get in front of the sculpture and spot some local wildlife along the way.
Slide 29 of 29: Thanks to the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, lifts and wheelchair ramps were installed on the most popular part of the Great Wall of China, making the longest wall in the world more accessible than ever. Try to visit midweek, when it's least crowded, so you can marvel at the 2,000-year-old wall, one of the oldest existing man-made structures.Want something different on your travel bucket list? Try some alternatives to the usual suspects with our guide here.

Accessible travel experiences

Go gorilla trekking in Uganda

The word “trek” might sound off-putting, but gorilla trekking in Uganda is surprisingly accessible. If you wish to see mountain gorillas in the wild but are less able-bodied, you can now be carried into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in a sedan chair, traveling deep into the forest to come face-to-face with these wild primates.

Go on safari in Africa

Safaris don’t have to be in bumpy 4×4 vehicles: for a smoother ride that’s perhaps even more spectacular, choose a flying safari. An airborne adventure with Aardvark Safaris will take you to some of the remotest areas of Namibia, or across the Serengeti in Tanzania. You’ll fly over gorgeous landscapes before landing to spend the day wildlife watching and learning about the local culture.

Scale Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Explore the Alps in Switzerland

Take Switzerland’s most scenic train journey, winding through picturesque peaks, green meadows and postcard-pretty villages on foot, or by train on the Bernina Express. Ramblers Walking Holidays offers a nine-day trip that visits five small villages, with the option to hop on and off the train as you choose along the way. This means you can get the best of both worlds, enjoying the stunning views from a carriage when you’re too tired to walk.

See Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Even if you’re physically unable to do a guided walk of Zimbabwe’s majestic Victoria Falls or take a dip in Zambia’s Devil’s Pool, you can still tick Victoria Falls off your bucket list on a thrilling helicopter flight with Giltedge Africa. Hop on board and gaze outside at the Zambezi gorge, beautiful baobab trees, the Batoka Gorge and, of course, the epic falls themselves.

Visit Mont Blanc, France

If you want the benefits of mountain walking without the physical strain, consider a trip to Mont Blanc with Adagio. You’ll enjoy a glacial backdrop of awesome peaks, including Mont Blanc, while using Chamonix Valley’s vast network of cable cars, tramways and trains making sure the beautiful views are accessible for all kinds of traveler. A flexible lift pass is included, so you can opt in and out of walks and other activities as you please.

Skydive over your dream destination

Visit Machu Picchu in Peru

Explore the Amazon by boat

Journey down the Amazon River in style on a beautiful boat with KE Adventure Travel. What you do once you’re on board is up to you: choose to join daily excursions to see exotic wildlife, visit a manatee rescue center or see the Amazon by night on an after-dark excursion. When it all gets too hot and humid – the rainforest is prone to high humidity – you can enjoy onboard presentations by experts. All excursions are included, and any walking involved is light enough for most.

Explore Antarctica

For a truly once-in-a-lifetime adventure that anyone can do, book a ticket on the luxurious Scenic Eclipse for a 16-day cruise from Buenos Aires to the vast Antarctic Peninsula. With zodiac boats, kayaks, a helicopter and a submarine on board, there are plenty of opportunities for epic adventures, from exploring beautiful waterways to meeting colonies of penguins. Even if you don’t disembark, it’s still worth the trip with this untouched wilderness for a view.

Take the Trans-Mongolian Express

Travel to remote and largely inaccessible regions in total comfort with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, which offers a trip on the Trans-Mongolian Express, journeying across Russia, combined with a visit to the Mongolian national festival. You’ll effectively be in a hotel on wheels, with fine-dining menus, fully guided sightseeing, on-board activities and carefully planned excursions. Guests are transported from the train to each site, making access suitable for all.

Bathe in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon

Don’t miss experiencing one of Iceland’s most visited attractions for yourself. The Blue Lagoon is popular with tourists wanting to experience the mineral-rich geothermal waters and, luckily, the lagoon is very accessible. There are wheelchair-accessible changing rooms, shower chairs available on request and a separate changing room for those with special needs. Guests can also enjoy a massage while floating in the lagoon.

Head into the rainforest in Costa Rica

Experience the wonder of Costa Rica’s rainforest without having to move a muscle with a two-hour boat safari down the lower Peñas Blancas River. The slow pace allows nature lovers to enjoy the tranquility of the rainforest, spotting and listening to a variety of wildlife in this tropical setting, while guides provide information about the animals and plants spotted en route. You’re sure to catch sight of monkeys, toucans, lizards, caimans, iguanas and myriad species of birds.

See the Northern Lights in Alaska, USA

Seeing the magical aurora borealis for yourself is an all-ages-appropriate adventure. Gondwana Ecotours carefully plans trips in Alaska for all kinds of traveler, using an ‘aurora wake-up service’ to make sure you get the most out of the skies. Hiking, snowshoeing and dog-sledding are options for more active travelers, and for those who would rather keep it simple, all you need to do to see the Northern Lights is simply step outside once you hear the aurora alarm. Guests with Gondwana see the lights at least once on every trip.

Go to the top of Mount Washington, USA

Over 6,288 feet above sea level, Mount Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is often seen as a hiker’s destination – there’s an eight-mile trek to the top. However, hiking isn’t the only way to reach the highest peak in the northeastern United States: ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway instead. The world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway, the train was built in 1869. The three-hour trip provides passengers with a history of The Cog as well as spectacular views on the way.

Visit the Grand Canyon, USA

Discover Italy by bicycle

See the Great Barrier Reef

Take a photography tour in Greenland

Often associated with hardy polar explorers and adrenalin junkies, Greenland is more accessible than you think if you visit with a tour company like Wild Photography Holidays. Join a small group photography tour to the world’s largest island and experience Greenland’s otherworldly landscape for yourself. There’s a bit of walking involved, but otherwise all of Greenland’s most photogenic areas are reached by transfers in traditional wooden fishing boats or by plane.

See the big five in South Africa

Accessible safari company Epic Enabled’s tagline is “Don’t let disability keep you from travelling”, and its aim is to provide barrier-free safaris for everyone. Take a trip to Kruger National Park to be in with a good chance of spotting some big game, have close animal encounters and see incredible sunsets, with trips planned carefully around your particular needs and adapted accommodation organized for you.

Learn to scuba dive

Physical ability isn’t a barrier to learning to scuba dive, with the weightlessness of the water offering those with disabilities a sense of freedom. Dive Ability is a charity that enables those with disabilities to discover the world of scuba diving, with a number of courses and scuba holidays abroad opening up the fascinating underwater world to people of all ages.

Visit the pre-Inca ruins of Kuélap, Peru

See the pyramids of Giza

One of the most phenomenal architectural achievements of all time, the Pyramids of Giza have to be seen to be believed. How the monumental structures were built is still a mystery, and whether you go inside or admire them from outside, the sheer size and magnitude of the pyramid complex will leave you speechless. Wheelchair users can organize an accessible excursion with London Cab Egypt, though it’s not possible to go inside the pyramids if you need wheelchair assistance.

Try paragliding almost anywhere

See the Sistine Chapel, Rome

Try a bungee jump

Bungee jumping is one of the most terrifying ordeals a person could willingly put themselves through, but the experience is certainly not just for the young, able-bodied traveler. The oldest man to ever bungee jump was 96 year old, and it’s even possible to experience the thrill in a wheelchair.

Visit Mount Rushmore, USA

To see one of the world’s most recognizable sculptures for yourself, head to South Dakota’s Black Hills and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Take the wheelchair-accessible Presidential Trail, just over half a mile long, to get in front of the sculpture and spot some local wildlife along the way.

Visit the Great Wall of China

Thanks to the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, lifts and wheelchair ramps were installed on the most popular part of the Great Wall of China, making the longest wall in the world more accessible than ever. Try to visit midweek, when it’s least crowded, so you can marvel at the 2,000-year-old wall, one of the oldest existing man-made structures.

Want something different on your travel bucket list? Try some alternatives to the usual suspects with our guide here.

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