Top of the World

March 29, 2019
EPIC TRIP Wheel the World cofounder Alvaro Silberstein (center) visits Machu Picchu, in Peru, with family.
JOYCE SILBERSTEIN—WHEEL THE WORLD

Millions of people visit Machu Picchu each year. It is an ancient Inca city in the mountains of Peru. Steep steps and rough terrain make the trip a challenge. It used to be nearly impossible for people with a physical disability.

Wheel the World has changed that. The company offers wheelchair-accessible tours of Machu Picchu and other spots around the globe. “Normally, people with disabilities would think that these types of places are not possible for them,” Camilo Navarro told TIME for Kids. He cofounded Wheel the World with his best friend, Alvaro Silberstein. Silberstein uses a wheelchair.

Adventure Awaits

Navarro and Silberstein started Wheel the World after hiking Torres del Paine in 2016. It is a national park in Chile. Silberstein was the first person to explore the park in a wheelchair. “Our story went viral,” he says. “We started receiving hundreds of requests from people wanting to repeat this trip.”

Today, Wheel the World runs 40 wheelchair-accessible trips in five countries. The company identifies cars and hotels with ramps. It directs people to accessible bathrooms. It even teaches local guides to help wheelchair users get around.

Wheel the World uses a special wheelchair for the Machu Picchu trip. It can be pushed like a wheelbarrow. It also folds up and fits easily into a car. “It’s a super tough wheelchair. It allows you to get to every corner in all types of terrain,” Navarro says. “Wherever somebody with a disability wants to go, we can get there with that wheelchair.”

Wheel the World hopes to give people with disabilities the same opportunities as everyone else. “The world hasn’t been designed for people with a disability,” Navarro says. “It’s important to build a more fair and inclusive world.”