Travelers who use wheelchairs often face challenges, and while the best motorized wheelchair might make getting through the airport easier, not all popular tourist destinations are wheelchair-friendly once you get there.
One ancient destination that has just recently become wheelchair accessible is Machu Picchu in Peru.
Often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas,” most archaeologists actually believe that Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. It is a wonder because it is a stone city built in the Andes Mountains before the era of wheels or iron tools.
But Machu Picchu has only been fully wheelchair accessible for a few months, CNN reported, since a travel company called Wheel the World
Started offering the first-ever wheelchair-accessible tour.
The tour company is run by two friends from Chile, Alvaro Silberstei and Camilo Navarro. Silberstein uses a special foldable wheelchair when the two go on adventures together.
They have expanded Wheel the World in Latin America, with tours of Chile, Mexico and Peru.
“Accessible does not mean inclusive,” Navarro told CNN. “There are one billion people [in the world] with disabilities. But there’s not one main travel company dedicated to these users.”
In order to offer the Machu Picchu tours, Wheel the World had to figure out how to afford the expensive special wheelchairs that are needed on some of the trails. They were able to find sponsors who would donate the wheelchairs and store them nearby.
A four-day Wheel the World trip to Machu Picchu costs $1,500, not including airfare.
The special wheelchair has only one wheel and two long sticks that make it look like a wheelbarrow, and is made of a mix of steel and aluminum, so it’s lightweight.
Because the chair is not self-propelled, the wheelchair user needs a travel companion to help them navigate the trails.