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Disabled Travelers

As with many Latin American countries, Chile’s infrastructure for disabled accessibility is patchy at best.  However, the country is striving to improve its system.  The law now requires all new buildings (restaurants, hotels, etc.) to provide disabled access, and various existing buildings have added lifts to accommodate.  It’s best to call ahead and ask before making a reservation.  Also, many national parks, cruises and ferries have discounts or free upgrades for disabled visitors; be sure to ask when making a reservation.


The narrow, crumbling and poorly maintained pavements that dominate Chilean streets will prove difficult and frustrating for disabled travelers.  While annoying and inconvenient, navigating the streets shouldn’t be too dangerous.  Chileans are very courteous toward those with disabilities, often helping them cross the street or stopping their car to wait.  


In attempts to streamline the chaotic transportation system in Santiago, the government launched Transantiago ( in 2007, placing emphasis on making public transport more accessible to those with impaired mobility.  Although the idea and its intentions were good, execution has been disorganized, resulting in harsh criticism.


As part of Transantiago’s initiative, the Metro ( has invested in making new lines wheelchair-accessible, and has refitted various existing lines.  As of now, Lines 5, 4 and the extensions of 2 and 5 have the proper equipment.  The line to MaipĂş and the extension of Line 1 (until Plaza Los Dominicos) will include wheelchair accessibility in the future.  In addition to buses, Tixi Service (URL:, Tel: 56-2-481-3235) offers wheelchair-accessible transportation services around Santiago.


There are several travel agencies that cater to disabled travelers in Chile.  Accessible Journeys ( offers group tours to Chile and Argentina, and provides custom-designed travel tips and planning to ensure a safe and comfortable trip.  Access-Able Travel ( offers guided trips, travel advice and directories of tour operators offering services for a wide range of physical and development disabilities.  Run by a family in Valparaiso, Chile, AMAPI Expeditions (, Tel: +56-3-281-5886), provides custom-designed a la carte tours to Chile and Argentina.  With years of experience in physical therapy and tourism, the staff at AMAPI is detail-oriented and thorough, helping disabled adventure-seekers realize their travel dreams.


For further information and advice on disability travel, check out the Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (



Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: When to Go to Coyhaique, When to go, When to Go to Valdivia, When to Go , Norte Chico Tours, When to go, Chile Tips for Mid-range Travelers, When to go, When to Go to FutaleufĂş and When to Go to the Lakes District.

By Rachel Anderson
I'm a twentysomething dandelion floating across the field of youth. I have an unquenchable thirst for writing, exploring and cheap wine. A cross...
09 Mar 2009

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