Machu Picchu Is Wheelchair-Accessible for the First Time Ever

iStock.com/DavorLovincic
iStock.com/DavorLovincic

Hiking up Machu Picchu in Peru has long been challenging for able-bodied people—and impossible for people who use wheelchairs. Now, CNN Travel reports that travel company Wheel the World has developed a special tour of Machu Picchu for disabled people, making the site wheelchair-accessible for the first time in its 600-year history.

Wheel the World is the brainchild of Alvaro Silberstein and Camilo Navarro, two friends and entrepreneurs from Chile. Their idea formed when the pair planned to hike Torres de Paine National Park in Patagonia together in 2016. Silberstein uses a wheelchair, and his regular chair wasn't suited for the journey. But following a successful crowdfunding campaign, he was able to buy a lightweight, foldable chair for the trip.

Silberstein and Navarro have since made a business out of making sites normally reserved for hikers wheelchair accessible. Wheel the World now offers tours of Easter Island and the Zapotec ruins in Mexico, but designing a tour for Machu Picchu, a site with an elevation close to 8000 feet, was their biggest challenge yet.

Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its protected status and vulnerability to erosion means wheelchair ramps can't be installed easily. Instead, Wheel the World came up with a way to provide disabled tourists with special wheelchairs at a price that wasn't outlandish. The wheelchairs are made from steel and aluminum, which makes them lightweight, and they have one wheel in the front and two long handles like a wheelbarrow, making them easier to navigate over tough terrain. A partner is needed to push the chair during the hike.

Wheelchairs are donated to the company and stored near the tour sites, which cuts down on costs. A four-day trip to Machu Picchu, including accommodations, meals, and transportation, costs Wheel the World travelers about $1500.

Wheel the World is set to give its first full tours of Machu Picchu in March 2019.

[h/t CNN Travel]

A Private Island With Ancient Ruins Just Hit the Market in Ireland

32cnamart, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0
32cnamart, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

You don't have to go someplace tropical to buy a luxurious, secluded island. High Island, or Ardoileán in Irish, is located two miles off the west coast of Ireland, and it's currently for sale for $1.4 million, CNN Travel reports.

Eighty acres and 206 feet above sea level, the island is filled with natural beauty. It's home to wild birds like gulls, petrels, and peregrine falcons as well as freshwater lakes. High Island also has a rich human history; around the 7th century, monks built a monastery there, and the ruins still stand today. Some experts think the first human residents arrived much earlier, with pollen evidence indicating the appearance of settlements around 3000 years ago.

The property, which is being sold by a private owner through Spencer Auctioneers, does come with a few caveats. The island's run-down cottage isn't equipped with electricity or running water. There is a 970-square-foot building with a septic tank next to the cottage, but it's owned by the state. The Irish government also owns the monastery ruins on the island, including the church, beehive huts, altar, and graves. Plus, to get to the island, the new buyer will need to take a boat or helicopter.

Even for someone interested in a fixer-upper, renovating High Island will be a challenge. Any renovations or new construction projects there must receive planning permission—but according to Spencer Auctioneers, the fact that the island already has a septic tank means that new buildings will likely get approved.

A $1.4 million price tag is cheap compared to some private islands that have hit the market recently. Last year, a Caribbean island and former James Bond filming location went up for sale for $85 million.

[h/t CNN Travel]

Indiana Just Got Its First National Park

Actor and singer Derek Hough kayaks through Indiana Dunes National Park (formerly National Lakeshore) in September 2017.
Actor and singer Derek Hough kayaks through Indiana Dunes National Park (formerly National Lakeshore) in September 2017.
Daniel Boczarski, Getty Images for National Park Foundation

We have good news for outdoor enthusiasts in Indiana: The state just got its first national park. As Condé Nast Traveler reports, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has long been a favorite vacation destination among swimmers and hikers in the region, but it's getting some extra attention now that it’s part of the National Park Service.

The name change (from National Lakeshore to National Park) was included in a 465-page joint resolution that President Donald Trump approved last week. Throughout history, many of America’s national parks have been created by presidential decree. Theodore Roosevelt famously created five national parks—including Crater Lake and Mesa Verde—and Woodrow Wilson oversaw the establishment of the National Park Service, the Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

As for Indiana Dunes, it’s now the country’s 61st national park. Situated along the southern tip of Lake Michigan, just a short distance from Chicago, the park is a popular place to swim and surf in the summer or hike and snowshoe in the winter. As the name suggests, the area is best known for its sand dunes, but it’s also home to 15,000 acres of wetlands, woodlands, prairies, black oak savannas, and bogs.

The change in designation doesn’t mean the park will automatically receive more funding or better protections, but park officials are hoping it will encourage visitors to branch out beyond the picturesque sand dunes. “While the beach and sand dunes will always be our primary draw for the public, we want visitors to get a chance to experience more of this great national park,” Bruce Rowe, public information officer for the Indiana Dunes, told Outside magazine.

If you’re looking to check out Indiana Dunes—or any national park, for that matter—you may want to consider traveling between April 20 and April 28. These dates mark National Park Week, when a series of special events and programs are held at parks across the country (and entry is free).

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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