Hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru has long been a challenge for people with disabilities – and impossible for wheelchair users. Now, CNN Travel reports that the travel company Wheel the World has developed a special tour for disabled people in Machu Picchu, making the site wheelchair accessible for the first time in its 600-year history.
Wheel the World is the brainchild of Alvaro Silberstein and Camilo Navarro, two friends and entrepreneurs from Chile. Her idea came about when the couple wanted to explore the Torres de Paine National Park in Patagonia in 2016. Silberstein used a wheelchair and his normal chair was not suitable for travel. However, after a successful crowdfunding campaign, he was able to buy a lightweight, foldable chair for the trip.
Silberstein and Navarro have since made a business out of the fact that they are usually made wheelchair accessible. Wheel the World is now offering tours of Easter Island and the ruins of the Zapotec Islands in Mexico, but planning a tour for Machu Picchu, a site of 8,000 feet, has been their biggest challenge to date.
Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site Wheelchair ramps can not be easily installed due to their location and protection status and susceptibility to erosion. Instead, Wheel the World developed a way to offer disabled tourists special wheelchairs at a non-weird price. The wheelchairs are made of steel and aluminum, which makes them lightweight. They have a wheel at the front and two long handles like a wheelbarrow, making them easier to navigate in difficult terrain. A partner is needed to push the chair during the hike.
Wheelchairs are donated to the company and stored near the tour site, which reduces costs. A four-day trip to Machu Picchu, including accommodation, food and transportation, costs Wheel the World travelers about $ 1
Wheel the World will make its first full tour of Machu Picchu in March 2019.
[h/t CNN Travel]