18 Jul CHILE – Wheel the World in Chile
Wheel the World is a national venture created by Álvaro Silberstein and Camilo Navarro, passionate friends for travel and nature, who seek to develop inclusive experiences in tourist places around the world for people with and without disabilities. As a company, the first thing they do is make expeditions to iconic places, identifying the adventures and feasibility of doing the tours, and then partnering with local operators and preparing them so that they can receive travellers who want to repeat the experience.
Álvaro Silberstein until the age of 18 played rugby. That year, he suffered a car accident that left him quadriplegic with 75% immobility in his body. However, with the adrenaline pumping through his body, sitting in a wheelchair was not going to stop him enjoying the adventures he loves.
In Chile there are ecological units that cover an area of 14.6 million hectares, equivalent to 20% of the national territory. Of these, only 31% of protected areas have some universal accessibility. That is why Wheel the World aims to enable Chile to be explored by people with disabilities, through the development of inclusive experiences.
The first experience of Álvaro and Camilo was in Torres del Paine in December 2016. They took a special wheelchair to do trekking which has already been used by 6 people before him. For Rapa Nui, their organisation left on the island 6 chairs: 2 trekking specials, 2 bicycles and 2 beach chairs (they work in sand and float in the sea). Together with a group of 20 people, they were able to identify different experiences that can be done on the island, from reaching the top of the Rano Raraku Volcano, enjoy the Anakena Beach, where they dive, and even explore the island by bicycle.
The team travelled to Easter Island where they, working with local tour agents, managed to create five incredible routes that are now available in Rapa Nui. Based on the experience of the last trip, Álvaro Silberstein says: “We want to promote that there are many options for outdoor activities and that anyone who wants to do it can.
The chairs used in Rapa Nui were purchased thanks to sponsors of the project (Banco de Chile, Columbia and Colmena) and to people who joined this inclusion proposal through donations. Once the trip was over, all these were available to the Island. To be able to organize the trip and request them, you just have to visit http://www.gowheeltheworld.com and enter Contact. Through the page, you can also make donations to support next adventures of Wheel the World, which include Cochamó in the Lakes Region, San Pedro de Atacama in the Region of Antofagasta, and Machu Picchu in Peru.
Within Europe there are several organisations dedicated to providing touristic participation for disabled travellers. One of those involves a dear friend of mine, Alan Broadbent who is the Managing Director at https://disabledaccessibletravel.com .