Feature destination - Peru

The country of Peru has made significant efforts to welcome travelers with disabilities. Access-Able would like to thank Jose A. Isola for writing this informative article and sharing access information about his beautiful country. The tourism board of Prom Peru has also worked very hard at recognizing and catering to travelers with disabilities and we applaud their efforts.

CourtyardPeru, a country with very rich cultural heritage and history is probably one of the best choices if you are thinking of visiting South America. Although accessibility is yet one of our problems with good planning a trip to Peru will be a memorable one. Our country has 23 different regions located on three different geographical areas. In Peru you will find more than 1500 miles of coastline along the Pacific Ocean, splendid views in the region that is crossed by the Andes Mountains and the exuberance and majesty of the rainforest in the Amazon region, so it is really difficult to appreciate the variety of this country with a short visit. 

In all regions of the country you will be able to find traces of our history and culture, there is virtually no place in Peru where you will not find a piece of our history and cultural heritage. Even in the Amazon Rainforest you will be able to make contact with many people that belong to the still remaining tribes of original pre Colombian times.

Geographically speaking Peru is located in the center of South America on the Pacific side, 5 hours and 45 minutes away from Miami or about 8 hours from New York or Los Angeles by plane. On this first tour we will give you an outlook of Lima, Peru’s capital city located in the center of the Pacific coastline. In future articles we will feature the cities of Cusco and Aguas Calientes, this last one located at the foot of the world famous Machu Picchu citadel, in the Andean Mountains and Iquitos, city located in the shore of the magnificent Amazon River. This way you will be able to enjoy a sample of places located in each one of our three different geographical regions.

Francisco Pizarro founded the city of Lima, known as the “Ciudad de los Reyes” (City of the Kings), on January 18th, 1535 at the right branch of the Rimac River, because of the excellent strategic and geographical conditions of this valley.

The name Lima comes from the native word “Rímac”, and that translated to Spanish means hablador (talkative). Once founded, the city started to grow very fast thanks to the contribution of Interior of spanish style buildingthe ancient cultures that developed in that area. During the 16th and 17th centuries, it became the most important and powerful metropolis in Spanish America. It was the center of commercial and cultural activities of the viceroyalty until the 18th century. In 1821 and after intense political movements, José de San Martin proclaimed the Independence, which was the beginning of the Republican period. Nowadays, Lima is a modern city offering a great variety of attractions; together with its rich past. It presents a harmonious synthesis of this historical richness in its museums, traditional districts, restaurants, craft galleries and nightlife. The UNESCO has appointed the Historical Center of Lima as a Universal Mankind Heritage Monument.

The “Jorge Chavez International Airport” is the gateway to Peru because it receives the largest quantity of international flights. It has two clearly differentiated areas, the domestic flights area and the international flight area. There are accessible restrooms in both areas and adequately signed. There are public telephones at lowered height and with volume control in certain areas. The route from both check-in counter areas to the boarding gates is all in one level. The counters where you pay the airport tax (US$ 25.00 for International flights and US$ 10.00 for domestic flights) and the security controls are accessible. Immigration control counters are a little high, but there is always staff willing to help. In the area of passport and customs control, used for international arrivals, there are no accessible public restrooms.

The airport does not have jet ways to facilitate the boarding of passengers to the plane. This operation is done by the use of stairs. Not all the airline companies operating at this airport have boarding chairs. It is recommended to make the necessary arrangements in advance so that the airlines offer the right services, according to the kind of impairment the passenger has.

The main tourist attractions of the city are: Main square which is one of the urban centers of the city. It has in its perimeter three of the most important buildings of the colonial period: The Cathedral, the Palace of the Viceroys -present Palace of Government known as the House of Pizarro- and the Town Council. The Cathedral is located at the Main Square, it is in the same place as the original building of 1555. There are two interesting churches; the Church and Convent of Saint Francis, one of the best architectonic colonial complexes of the 17th century, formed by the small square, the convent and the church. It has cloisters, an interesting Museum of Viceregal Art with a valuable collection of artwork, and catacombs that are more than 300 years old. The second is the Church and Convent of Saint Dominic which began its construction with the foundation of Lima and was finished after the 16th century. The church has three areas, it has interesting choir stalls which are carved in cedar, as well as the dome. You will also want to visit the Los Descalzos Convent which is located on the right bank of the Rímac River, at the end of the Alameda de los Descalzos, a promenade of 18th century Lima. This convent was found at the end of the 16th century and in its quiet rooms there are priceless pictures of Quito and Cuzco Art School. All of these historical sites are accessible with help and are all located in the downtown area of Lima, where you will be able to walk or roll from one to another of these sites. There are curb ramps in almost all the main intersections, though some of these ramps may have steep slopes.

Lima has a wealth of interesting museums where one can explore the rich culture and history of the region. All of the museums mentioned are wheelchair accessible with assistance. There are Gold maskcurrently no public accessible restrooms in any of the museums featured. If you are interested in viewing valuable collections of ceramic vessels, gold and silver items as well as jewels from pre-Incan cultures, the National Anthropology Archaeology and History Museum exhibits important collections of such items as does the National Museum and the Amano Museum. The Gold Museum hosts the private collection of Mr. Miguel Mujica Gallo as well as a large weapon collection, with items dating from the 16th century The Huaca Huallamarca and The Huaca Pucllana or Juliana are both pre-Inca temples of pyramidal shape. Both locations have small museums that exhibits items found there during the excavations.

Public transportation in Lima is not wheelchair accessible and there is no accessible taxi service for the moment. Therefore you must make your transportation arrangements in advance and for this purpose you have Lima Tours (Email: inbound@limatours.com), they offer van service for tours around the city and also for outside Lima. These vans are equipped with portable ramps and can hold two wheelchairs in each van. Also Servicio de Transporte Ngt EIRL, Telephone: (51-1) 261 2876 / 993 4877 Contact: Mr. Javier Nagata, offers the same services.

City squareThe main tourist attractions located at the outskirts of the city are: The National Reserve of Lachay, located about 1.45 hours by car from the city of Lima. This park has interesting microclimates, there is a lot of vegetation and wild animals, as well as archaeological areas belonging to pre-Hispanic cultures. Marcahuasi is located 3 Km to the east of San Pedro de Casta in the Andes of Lima (12906.8 feet above sea level). From San Pedro one must travel 3 hours by horse or 6 hours walking to arrive to this plateau with an extension of 4 Km2. There you can find enormous eroded rocks because of the weather, rising up to 85 ft high; many of them have animal shapes. Camping equipment and a strong sense of adventure is a must. Pachacamac is an Archeological site located at about 45 minutes by car from the city of Lima. It was the first ceremonial center of the Peruvian coast. The importance of this complex decayed since the 15th century A.D. when Inca Tupac Yupanqui conquered the area. Between the constructions, the Temple of the Sun and the Acllahuasi are the most important and were both built during the Inca domination. The Lunahuaná Valley is located at about 2 hours by car from Lima. The road lies along the Cañete river, where one can see archaeological pre-Hispanic remains surrounded by huge mountains and exuberant vegetation. The colonial church of Lunahuaná that dates from 1690 is remarkable. This area is good for practicing canoeing, fishing, hunting, kayaking, paragliding, mountain cycling and other adventure sports.

Peru is very well known for the excellent cuisine, the mixture of flavors that come from the combination of culinary cultures makes Peru an excellent place if you really want to hunt for new flavors. Typical dishes are: cebiche, carapulcra limeña, cau-cau, anticuchos, lomo saltado, and seco de ternera. There are many delicious deserts and the traditional beverage is chicha morada. You will find a great variety of restaurants, some accessible, some accessible with help, though only a couple of them will have accessible public restrooms.

As far as lodging is concerned there are a few hotels that are totally accessible. The Sheraton Lima Hotel and Casino has two designated accessible rooms and both the El Olivar Sonesta Hotel and the Posada del Inca San Isidro are accessible. The Lima Marriott Hotel has three rooms designated accessible and is the only hotel to have rooms with roll-in showers. There are other hotels that are making great efforts towards becoming accessible, one of them is the Sol de Oro Hotel, which has recently remodeled one of their junior suites.

In future articles we will give you information about the cities of Cusco, Aguas Calientes (the city you have to go through on your way to Machu Picchu), Trujillo and Iquitos. In all of these articles we will include and update as much information about places that have accessibility features. For any other information you can get in touch with Alessia Di Paolo from Prom Peru at adipaolo@promperu.gob.pe or directly to myself, Jose A. Isola at tinman_pe@yahoo.es or tinman@wemedia.net.

For additional information about attractions, museums and archeological sites in Lima check out the Access-Able Database

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