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22 Mar 2019 World leisure: news, training & property
 
 
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22 Feb 2019

Wheelchair tours of Machu Picchu offered for first time
BY Andy Knaggs

Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world

Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world
photo: Shutterstock

At 8,000ft (2,438m) above sea level, the Inca city of Machu Picchu is a stiff climb even for the able-bodied, and has been completely inaccessible for those in a wheelchair. That has now changed after travel company Wheel the World started offering specialised trips to the Peruvian world wonder.

Wheel the World offers travellers access to expensive specialised wheelchairs that can traverse difficult terrain. The company was started by two Chilean friends, Alvaro Silberstein (who uses a wheelchair) and Camilo Navarro, in 2017. It offers a number of tours in Chile and Mexico, and the new Machu Picchu experience is its first extension into Peru.

The experience reportedly revolves around the lightweight Joelette trekking wheelchair, distinctive with its single wheel and two long handles, which, it is said, makes it look like a wheelbarrow. These wheelchairs are not self-propelled, so a companion may be required, or local assistants or trained guides can be hired.

A single-day Machu Picchu tour with Wheel the World costs US$990 (€873, £758), while a four-day trip costs US$1,500 (€1,323, £1,150).

Wheelchair-bound tourists are not required to bring their own specialist chairs, as Wheel the World arranges for the equipment to be available at the attraction - a distinct advantage compared to Silberstein’s experience when planning to hike the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia before setting up Wheel the World; he had to raise US$8,000 (€7,057, £6,127) to buy a specialised trekking wheelchair, which he afterwards donated to the park so it could be used by other people with disabilities.



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