Karoo Braille Trail a South African first

  • Karoo Braille Trail a South African first 

    Enjoying the beauty of South Africa’s biodiversity should not be a privilege enjoyed only by those without disabilities

    The Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden in Worcester has opened its Braille Trail – the first of its kind in South Africa. It’s a universally accessible 154m route in the heart of the national botanical garden that allows persons with disabilities – not only persons with visual impairments – to enjoy the unique beauty of South Africa’s arid and semi-arid flora.

    The Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden marked the closing of Tourism Month by officially opening the Braille Trail on Friday 30 September 2022.

    The Braille Trail features a variety of specimens that have an either beautiful fragrance or an interesting texture, or both. Visitors are invited to handle the plants, which are displayed in raised beds, so they are easy to access.

    The trail features comprehensive Braille signage; is wheelchair accessible; offers an audio guide; and includes an interactive exhibition of the common rocks of the Karoo so that visitors can touch, feel and learn more about them.

    According to Lize Labuscagne, environmental interpretation officer at the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden, the Karoo is home to some of the most spectacular plants on Earth.

    “It’s high time that everybody – whether with a disability or not – enjoys this natural splendour and learns more about the unique Karoo biome and how vulnerable and beautiful it is,” says Labuscagne.

    Empowering people with disabilities

    Worcester is the care capital of South Africa. The Pioneer School for the visually impaired and the Innovation Centre for the Blind are both located in the town. Both entities invest significantly in empowering persons with disabilities for self-sufficiency and independence. The Braille Trail in the national botanical garden is evidence of the garden’s endorsement of their work.

    “All persons have a right to enjoy and engage with the biodiversity of South Africa. It’s not a privilege that should be accessible only to persons without disabilities,” says Labuscagne.

    Although the Braille Trail has been in the pipeline since 2014, a lack of money presented a hurdle to its completion. The fact that it is now complete and open is thanks to support from various organisations and investors who share the universal accessibility conviction of the South African National Biodiversity Institute.

    These investors and partners include Worcester’s Pioneer School, North-West University and its Byderhand project, the Cape Winelands Municipality, Worcester Tourism, the Botanical Society of South Africa, and the Rowland and Leta Hill Trust.

    “The succulent collection at the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden is a precious treasure at the garden,” says Angelo Heyns, marketing coordinator at the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden.

    “However, this garden is also the perfect place to experience the spectacular late winter Karoo desert daisy extravaganza and the stunning show that the vygies put on this time of year. It’s home to nearly 100 bird species, three species of tortoise and the charming little grysbokkie,” says Heyns.

    Labuscagne says the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden welcomes thousands of visitors each year. She and her colleagues now look forward to counting more persons with disabilities in that number.

    Find the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden in Roux Road in Worcester. Visit https://www.sanbi.org/gardens/karoo-desert/ for more information on the garden and its Braille Trail.

    Endorphin Expeditions, an affiliate company of WhyAfrica, is a tour operator that undertakes three specialist multiday overland road trips per year and provides specialist day tours in and around Johannesburg, South Africa.   

    Specialist tours:

    • Mining history and geology tour of Northern South Africa and Namibia
    • Wildlife, birding, and coastal tour of South Africa
    • Deserts of Southern Africa (Succulent and Nama Karoo, Botswana Kalahari, and Namib desert)

      

    What we do on our specialist tours:

    • We design and package our specialist tours and provide you with an itinerary
    • We provide you with a specialist tour guide/driver  
    • We book all your accommodation.
    • We make sure you get three meals per day, so that you don’t have to worry about where you will get your next meal from.
    • We book you a rented vehicle before you arrive
    • Our guides are flexible, so if you want him/her to drive your car, that can be arranged. If not, he/she drives their own vehicle, and you follow.
    • We can also custom design your tour if you are interested in specific attractions or subjects.
    • We can arrange educational tours on request.
    • We arrange business trips for investors interested in Africa.

      

    *Note:

    • All you need to do is book your own flight. We look after the rest.
    • Our groups are not bigger than 12 people.

     

    Endorphin Expeditions one day tours:

    • Tour Joburg with our specialist guide focussing on the city’s rich mining history and the geology of the Witwatersrand Basin that has made Johannesburg the richest city in Africa.
    • Early morning running tours with our guide through the vibrant city of Johannesburg. Learn more about the rich diversity and colourful history of Jozi during an easy and relaxed jog through the streets of a city that continues evolving.

    Image credit: Karoo botanical Garden

    The Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden in Worcester has opened its Braille Trail – the first of its kind in South Africa. It’s a universally accessible 154m route in the heart of the national botanical garden that allows persons with disabilities. Image credit: Karoo Botanical Garden Braille Trail

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