The Balearic island of Mallorca is many things to many people. It is certainly one of the most appealing tourist destinations in Europe with a wide range of attractions and landscapes, from the Serra de Tramuntana mountains running south-west to north-east, to the central rural plains to its myriad encircling sandy beaches and coves.
Mallorca is a year-round island, with only a few short months that are overcast and rainy. But compared to most of Europe, its climate is very mild… it helps being surrounded by water, thus avoiding summer and winter extremes.
So no matter what time of year there is something to attract someone. And its landscape, good road network and infrastructure, combined with plentiful international flights to Palma airport, also make it a great distination for what has become known as Accessible Tourism.
Here we are going to take a look at some of the sporting opportunities, particularly suitable and adapted for the disabled. But this certainly doesn’t preclude the more physically able participating.
The HCI Mallorca team is currently preparing its schedule of action-packed activities for 2015, foremost amongst which are some great sporting packages, available to all levels of abilities, young and old alike. But physically active holidays are especially good for those with some form of incapacity, letting participants disconnect from their everyday lives, stresses, obligations as well as help stay fit and discover new capabilities and horizons.
HCI sporting activities, organised by a group of dedicated professionals whose speciality is in working with the disabled, help participants enjoy what are often newly-acquired skills in the company of their loved ones, friends, or on their own. This dedicated team is already putting all their energy and enthusiasm into preparing routes, excursions, workshops and courses to help participants make the most of their abilities in this idyllic setting.
The concept of Accessible Tourism is very wide-ranging and concerns the accesibility of a destination for people with either permanent disabilities, special needs, the result of aging or temporary circumstances such as pregnancy, parents traveling with prams, or people injured temporarily. For HCI this means that clients can enjoy the beach, the mountains and equally the villages and towns, including the city of Palma itself, all in an accessible environment with or without the companionship of friends and family.
But taking it one step further, the opportunity is also there to learn how to handle a sailing boat, uncover the secrets of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, navigate on land or even water ski!
Would you like to see the magnificent Palma Cathedral from the sea? This is entirely possible in any one of several ways through the availability of Adapted Sailing available to young and old alike. There is even a Summer School for Disabled Sailing. All sailing activities are specifically developed for people with physical, sensory or mental disabilities. There is even a competition team.
Kayaking is a very popular activity known to many. But here in Mallorca we have kayaks fitted with chairs specially adapted to the kayaks so that anyone regardless of their ability can set out on water accompanied by friends or family in the safest way possible. The chairs are fitted with an adjustable mechanism that adapts to each person according to their needs and anatomy.
There are also double K2 type kayaks in which users are accompanied by a volunteer or assistant. This type of kayak is self-draining and unsinkable.
Courses for novices are also available in which enthusiastic participants can learn the basics of handling the boat before heading out to sea. The specially adapted boats have enabled countless people to enjoy a fun, easy and safe sporting activity on the water.
The Blokart is a type of compact land yacht that is rapidly gaining in popularity as a major land-based sailing sport. Unlike most other land yachts, Blokarts have hand steering and require few sail adjustments, which make them particularly easy to learn. Blokart racing is today developing as a competitive international sport with organised racing including National Blokart Championships now being held in many countries around the world.
Blokarting can be performed by anyone regardless of their degree of disability through carrying out the necessary adaptations. It is normally practised in tandem with a dedicated team to ensure safety. It is a team sport but one in which each participant is completely independent, resulting in a high degree of personal satisfaction.
Back to water sports! Water skiing is an activity that allows the disabled person to surpass him or herself. It is also an activity you can do with family and friends. Specially conceived and designed with the disabled in mind, this water skiing board has stabilizers which make it impossible to overturn whilst still making it highly enjoyable for the participant. There is also a seat which adds to the safety.
Adapted diving is a wonderful sport for hose with disabilities, since in water many of the barriers which a disabled person might encounter will simply disappear, magically enabling a much greater freedom of movement. The sense of weightlessness , the sensations and sounds experienced when underwater have to be experienced to be believed!
A number of specially designed diving courses run throughout the year enabling people with all types of disabilities to have their diving “baptism”. The courses take three to four hours overall, involving both theoretical and practical training in a closed pool. There are also courses for the more advanced diver, not to mention the incredible opportunity to dive with rays and even sharks… a truly unforgettable experience!
And back on dry land we turn to golf, a wonderful sport for many with disabilities, enabling participants to improve their motor skills, attention span, hand-eye coordination and muscle tone… all in one sport.. not to mention the opportunities for better social integration and improved self-esteem.
The golf pros are all fully qualified with years of experience in working with those with disabilities. And as to the equipment, some of the most advanced apparatus is available, including the Paragolfer, ideal for amputees or those paralyzed from the waist down but having upper body strength. The Paragolfer is a wheelchair designed for golf course terrain enabling easy passage over hills without extra effort, and will lift individuals from a sitting position to a standing position ready to play.
Courses are available at Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced level.
For lovers of the great outdoors and mountains in particular, then for many the Otto Bock SuperFour vehicle will provide an incredible experience, enabling users to enjoy the scenery of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains in a unique and fun way in conditions of absolute independence. This is ideal for those with many different disabilities enabling them to enjoy nature in a safe way and in the company of friends, family or teachers.
The SuperFour is a single-drive 4×4 vehicle operated by means of a simple joystick. It will permit the climbing of slopes of up to a 40% incline whilst maintaining maximum security. The vehicles are also electric, and so don’t pollute the environment.