Millions of people visit Machu Picchu every year and take the challenging trek to reach this ancient Inca city. But for years it has only been accessible for the non-disabled. Last month the first person in a wheelchair hiked the iconic site, thanks to the travel company Wheel the World.
How does it work?
The company offers tours using specially designed foldable wheelchairs, called the Joelette trekking wheelchair. One of the inventors explained to CNN that "it has just one wheel and two long sticks that make it look like a wheelbarrow. It is not heavy due to the mix of steel and aluminum".
For now, the only disadvantage of the invention is that it can't be self-propelled. To operate and navigate the chair you will need a companion to help you. But no worries if you're travelling alone. For solo travelers, trained guides and assistants are provided at the site.
Two best friends with a goal to change the world
The travel company Wheel the World has a goal to make bucket list experiences accessible to wheelchair users. Thanks to them, wheelchair-bound individuals now have the opportunity to experience Machu Picchu, one of the world's wonders.
The company was founded by two friends who wanted to make a difference in the world for disabled people. Alvaro Silberstein uses a wheelchair, while his friend Camilo Navarro doesn't. The idea for the company came up when they were planning a hike in a national park in Patagonia. Silberstein used a special foldable wheelchair for the first time and accomplished the hike throughout the park. Since then, the two best friends from Chile have moved to the United States to study and develop their business idea. Now, they're offering tours to destinations around the globe, which have typically been difficult or even impossible for disabled people to navigate. Besides Machu Picchu, they have other tours in Chile and Mexico.
A single-day Machu Picchu tour like this costs around £990 not including flights, and the price for a multi-day trip starts around £1,500. Wheelchairs like this are still quite expensive, so many organizations donate wheelchairs and store them at sites all over the world. This way, travelers don't have to buy their own trekking wheelchair. The first full tour of Machu Picchu will be open to the public in March.