Most disabilities shouldn't stop anyone from traveling. However, Peru is considerably less equipped for accessible travel than are most parts of North America and Europe. Comparatively few hotels are outfitted for travelers with disabilities, and only a few restaurants, museums, and means of public transportation make special accommodations for such patrons. There are few ramps, very few wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, and almost no telephones for the hearing-impaired.
Though it continues to lag behind Europe and North America, Peru has been a perhaps unlikely leader in South America in terms of seeking to make its tourist infrastructure more accessible to people with disabilities. In 1998, Peru initiated a countrywide project targeting tourism establishments to improve facilities, and in the last decade, Peru was the only country in South America to attend a Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality conference.
Request a copy of "Tourism for the People with Disabilities: The First Evaluation of Accessibility to Peru's Tourist Infrastructure," available from the Peruvian embassy in your home country, before your visit to Peru. The 99-page report features evaluations of hotels, restaurants, museums, attractions, airports, and other services in Lima, Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Iquitos, and Trujillo.
A helpful website for accessible travel in Peru is Access-Able Travel Source (www.access-able.com), which offers detailed destination articles on accessible travel in Peru and a wealth of specific information about Aguas Calientes, Chiclayo, Cusco, Huanchaco, Iquitos, Lima, the Chicama and Moche valleys, Pisac, Trujillo, and Yucay. Within individual reviews, you'll find information on ramps, door sizes, room sizes, bathrooms, and wheelchair availability.
One Peruvian hotel chain, Posadas del Inca (www.sonesta.com), stands out in a country where few places are equipped for accessible travel. With properties in Lima, Cusco, Yucay, and Puno, it maintains rooms in every hotel that are accessible for travelers with disabilities.
Many travel agencies offer customized tours and itineraries for travelers with disabilities. Apumayo Expediciones (tel. 054/246-018; www.apumayo.com) is way out in front in Peru, offering tours specifically designed for travelers with physical disabilities. Accessible Journeys (tel. 800/846-4537 or 610/521-0339; www.disabilitytravel.com) caters specifically to slow walkers and wheelchair travelers and their families and friends; the organization offers a 10-day "Peru Explorer" trip to Lima, Paracas, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. InkaNatura Travel (www.inkanatura.com) is also particularly well equipped to deal with travelers with disabilities: Beyond the website's specifics on Peru, it is an excellent resource with all kinds of general information and answers to frequently asked questions about traveling with disabilities.
Organizations that offer assistance to travelers with disabilities include MossRehab (www.mossresourcenet.org), the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB; tel. 800/232-5463; www.afb.org), and SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality; tel. 212/447-7284; www.sath.org). AirAmbulanceCard.com is now partnered with SATH and allows you to preselect top-notch hospitals in case of an emergency.