Most historical and natural landmarks scattered across the globe have made improvements or adaptations that allow those of us who are wheelchair users to enjoy them. However, some of them are nearly impossible because they were constructed centuries before things like accessibility ramps or elevators were in use. Trying to install them in those instances now is pretty much a lost cause. As a result, it seems like sometimes these landmarks are out of reach. It is like they are off limits even though that is not necessarily the intended case. Yet, you might be surprised to learn that some of the most inaccessible landmarks have methods and means by which you can still enjoy their natural or historical wonder if you’re in a wheelchair. Following are the least accessible landmarks in the world with an explanation of how you can best see them anyway. As it turns out, almost any accessibility issue can be overcome if you are creative enough or just a bit patient.
Perched high in the mountains of Peru sits Machu Picchu, often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas”. It was built around the year 1450 so wheelchair access isn’t superb, but it is possible thanks to various tour companies that specialize in wheelchair accessible tours. In order to access it, most people take the train or simply hike to it without a tour company. If you are in a wheelchair however, I would highly suggest booking your trip with a tour company. You can take the train most of the way or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can hike the original Inca trail in a specialized wheelchair with Amazing Peru Tours. The team will literally carry you over the often rough terrain for over a day until you finally reach Machu Picchu. This would be a rewarding experience and a fantastic way to go as the Incas did so many years ago.
If you would rather get there a bit quicker, there are plenty of other accessible tours that can get you there as well. Before you know it, you will be well on your way to enjoying this ancient Incan citadel.
Located in the state of Arizona, in the United States, this is one of the seven great wonders of the world. However, visiting the Grand Canyon as a wheelchair user has been a bit challenging until recently. The reason is because most of the park was constructed before accessibility laws came into play. As such, going back to retrofit the park is not as easy or feasible as you might think. Yet, the shuttles are all accessible and there are always plenty of people to help you once you arrive at the park.
However, with a little creativity you can enjoy all that the Grand Canyon has to offer. For starters, the south rim is the most famous where tourists and lodging is concerned. The secret is that there is a great little pathway that leads out from the visitor center. This is one of the best ways to experience the Canyon Trail and it is only about 1 1/2 miles long. Keep in mind that restrooms are not located along the trail, and it is a straight shot. This means it does not loop back around to the visitor center so make sure you are in it for the long haul when you head out. Other than that, enjoy your stops along the way. There are many places to snap beautiful pictures of the Canyon in all of its glory.
The Great Wall of China
Keep in mind that until the Olympics were held in Beijing in 2008, many portions of the wall were not accessible at all. However, since then and in response to burgeoning tourism, several portions are now accessible. However, it has long been thought that the majority of the wall is not as easy to navigate. That is not the case. Simply ask your hotel concierge which tour company does the best job of taking wheelchair users to the Great Wall. Let them know you’re interested in seeing portions of the wall that are not as accessible and they should be able to help you out. The van driver will load you up, take you to your destination, and the tour company will take over from that point. If need be, they will help carry you up the steps so you can roll around the wall and enjoy the landmark just as any other person would. However, if you’re in a powered wheelchair then check out the Ba Da Ling section of the Great Wall. It has an elevator for wheelchair users so getting that perfect photo will be easy to do.
Christ the Redeemer Statue
This is perhaps the most iconic religious landmark in the world. If you want to get up close and personal, there are actually several different vans and trains that can take you. Most of the time, wheelchair users usually steer clear of this one simply because of it’s height and the length of the trip. However, if you want to see the statue it is absolutely possible with a bit of determination. The easiest way to get to the top of Corcovado, where the Christ the Redeemer statue sits, is to take the train. The train is completely wheelchair accessible. After getting off the train, you’ll need to hop on an elevator and take it to the top. Unfortunately, after the elevator there are still two more escalators that you’ll have to take in order to reach the statue. The ticket office has manual wheelchairs that you can use to go up the escalator and they will assist you in any way they can.
A word of caution though, refunds are not given due to inclement weather. I say this because sometimes it is hard to see the Christ the Redeemer statue if clouds are hanging overhead. Remember, Brazil sits in a rain forest, and Rio de Janeiro was created around that environment.
Now you have a few monuments that you can add to your list that perhaps you thought were impossible to do before. You also have a few ways to unlock their full potential, allowing you to experience them just as other people do. To learn more about other accessible destinations, check out this article on suitable holidays for people with mobility issues. Like I said, with a little creativity and some patience, just about anything is possible. Don’t let your wheels keep you away from getting out there and enjoying it all!
I didn’t visit Machu Picchu because I had VIOLENT food poisoning. Could barely get out of bed because I um….lost all that I had LOL. Can’t wait to get back, and enjoy the scenery. Very helpful information as always. Hadn’t thought about the Christ the Redeemer fact. Be ready for some clouds or a down pour or 2 because I know how things get in the tropics 😉
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Great list – and tips! The only one on here I’ve been to is the Grand Canyon and I DEFINITELY agree with it being on this list. It’s a nightmare to try and go to. Though maybe part of my complaint is that I hate dry heat, lol! It was definitely worth it for how beautiful it was, though. I’d love to go to Machu Picchu!