Our mission to find accessible activities in RS, Brazil.

Living in the south of Brazil as a wheelchair user has its challenges. Sidewalks are often treacherous, buildings are rarely accessible, and services are very much geared towards those who are able-bodied. There have been numerous occasions where my family and I have wanted to do something a little different on the weekend, only to be stumped for inspiration and not knowing where to start when it comes to finding accessibility information. Usually, we have to go through the rigamarole of short-listing some ideas for things to do or places to see, and then my wife has to call ahead and ask the hard-hitting questions regarding potential barriers.

In my work life I’m often reaching out to tourism boards and businesses operating within the travel industry, ironing out collaboration projects and seeing if there are ways in which we can align our efforts to improve accessible tourism, and so it got me thinking about trying to do something similar here in Rio Grande do Sul – not only for my blog, or for The World is Accessible, but primarily for myself, and others like me, who find there’s a distinct lack of information on fun activities that are accessible within the state. There’s also a need for accessible restaurant recommendations, bars, hotels, etc. You name it, we could use the expertise on it!

I guess I’ve been so focused on tailoring my content to either a European or American demographic that I forgot I could be doing the same for this region. My wife and I are currently planning a potential group trip to Rio de Janeiro for The World is Accessible, which will be wonderful, but it would also be amazing if we could find enough interesting things to see and do in our region, and who knows, maybe we could even put together an itinerary for southern Brazil as well. After all, the Gaucho (cowboy) heritage of this part of the world is truly fascinating. Plus we also have Uruguay, Paraguay, and Northern Argentina on our geographical doorstep.

Now, at this point, I would like to interject and say that I intend to use my Tabifolk blog to talk about my previous travel exploits and share details of how I found accessibility in various parts of the world. But for now, I am sticking with something a little closer to my current reality, as I’ve had a torrid time recently thanks to an unexpected second dance with COVID-19. Starting in March I’ll dig a little deeper into the recesses of my mind and come up with some compelling tales about how I almost drowned in a boat fire, or how I crashed a rental car in New York. But for now, back to the issues at hand – RS, Brazil.

We have found a fair few accessible attractions during our time exploring RS. There are amazing activities like Gramado Zoo, Sky Glass Canela, the beaches in Tramandaí and Imbé, and catching a football match in Porto Alegre – but we want a more exhaustive list. In our mission to always find new things to see and do we want to build the most comprehensive accessible guide to this state! We believe it is a state worth visiting and a state that is far removed from the vast majority of Brazil. It’s true, in fact, that the state of Rio Grande do Sul has often claimed that it should have independence from the rest of Brazil, such as its uniqueness and varied heritage ties.

To get us on our way I have reached out to Tourismo no Rio Grande do Sul and hope to get as much information as possible on accessible adventures and activities. One aspect in particular that I am extremely keen to find is some accessible hiking options. Coming from the UK, I miss being able to get out into nature and take a stroll for a few hours. This part of the world is so diverse and beautiful, and so it would be great to see more of it and feel like we’re getting off the beaten path. There are a series of picturesque waterfalls and cascades up near the Canela region of this state, and whilst the treks to get there may currently be completely inaccessible for a wheelchair user like me, I’m curious as to whether there could eventually be some form of accessible trail or tour put together – not too dissimilar to how they assist wheelchair users to visit the likes of Machu Picchu in Peru.

Here’s hoping that at the very least the tourism board can get back to me with some suggestions that I could then share with the rest of you guys. It would be great to think that our region of Brazil had enough to offer would-be tourists. A simple drive through the state’s mountainous region tells me, every time, that there’s something special about this place! 

Published in Travel


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