Exploring the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is no longer exclusively for the able-bodied. A travel company, Wheel the World, has created a wheelchair-accessible route for travellers to take if they want to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site. With the company’s help, more excited explorers can discover the wonders of the Inca empire.
Wheel the World was founded by two best friends who just wanted to travel together. Alvaro Silberstein and Camilo Navarro wanted to hike Torres de Paine National Park in Patagonia together, so they came up with a special foldable wheelchair for Silberstein and crowdfunded for its creation. After emigrating to the US to study business, they both envisioned a travel company focused on accessibility. With that, Wheel the World was born, and it has helped create wonderful memories for those who previously thought they could never travel to remote places.
The Machu Picchu tour will take travellers around the site, with guided tours in either English or Spanish. The company will provide special equipment, the Joelette trekking wheelchair, for the disabled who wish to explore. A one-day trip will cost around $990, excluding insurance and flight costs. There is also a multi-day package available, where travellers can explore Cusco, Machu Picchu, and other historic sites for a week. This trip will cost around $1500 per person, excluding insurance and flight costs.
The accessible tour is made possible with the special wheelchair. It only has one wheel, which makes difficult terrain and narrow passages more manageable. The mix of steel and aluminium makes the wheelchair light and easy to handle, just like a bicycle. However, it cannot be self propelled, so the traveller needs to have someone help them navigate the device. Good news is that Wheel the World also offers tours for those travelling alone, and they have staff who will gladly be a travel companion.
With a third of the world’s population living with a direct relation to disabilities, companies like Wheel the World are important to ensuring that more people are able to choose to travel. Old historic sites and natural wonders usually require some hiking, so those who need a wheelchair were previously discouraged from going. With some new tech and a fit travel buddy, their dreams of travelling the world can finally come true.