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By Adriana Pereyra,
Latitud Sur Accesible.
I'd really like to tell you a lot of interesting things about my country and its accessibility. To tell you the truth, Argentine is not free from architectural barriers. However, there is a progressive increase in awareness of the strong need for a complete integration of people with disability in the every day life of a city. Although, our country is not fully accessible, there are plenty of places and activities that can be visited and enjoyed without worrying about accessibility.
I can describe three possible trips as an example:
The first trip I have in mind is Buenos Aires. Argentina´s city capital has much to offer for those who are interested in visiting a city with a multicultural heritage.
Adapted vehicles and suitable accomodation will be provided for people with limited mobility that would like to visit Buenos Aires. In this way, they will travel with comfort and safety and they will stay in hotels where the rooms design is respectful of their particular needs.
There are plenty of attractive places and activities for those who would like to immerse themselves in the life of this vivid city. These activities range from taking the typical city tours and attending a classic tango show, to going shopping in a really comfortable ambience, visiting beautiful galleries and tasting our traditional "parrillada" (meats) in a typical farm.
Visits to the elegant neighbourhood of Recoleta and to the Fine Arts Museum, among others, are available too, for those who are interested. This touristic proposal is quite similar to that available for people without any special disability and I find this a great goal. I think these type of proposals are a small but solid approach to working towards integration.
Now let's consider another destination: Cataratas del Iguazú.
What happens if a person in a wheelchair wants to visit such a beautiful and fascinating place as Cataratas del Iguazú? I think that's a valid question to ask me. As we all know, it's more usual that progress in facilities for people with disabilities is concentrated in big cities and only later in the smaller ones. As a matter of fact, Buenos Aires has eleven million inhabitants, which makes it one of the biggest cities of America, and Puerto Iguazú has only about 300.000 inhabitants.
Iguazú Falls are included in the tourist international circuits of maximum accessibility.
Tourists will also find that the main hotels in Argentina and Brazil have rooms with facilities for people with motor disabilities. During their stay, a full day will be necessary to visit the Iguazú National Park, on the argentinean side (an experience that will be very difficult to explained in words).
The Iguazú National Park has access ramps in all the buildings that are part of the complex, which do not exceed 6% slope. All the toilets have the appropriate facilites for people with disabilities. They will visit the Upper Circuit and the 'Devil's Gorge', by taking the Green Train of the Jungle. They are fully accessible. All the footbridges have double wooden handrails and a protective mesh for the safety of children and of the people who use a wheelchair, at a height of 0.75 metres (to facilitate the circulation of children and people with limited mobility and at 0.90 metres for blind people).
In the case of the Brazilian Falls, the other traditional tour, the tourists board modern double decker buses with wide vision and room to transport wheelchairs. The bus arrives at the first stop and from the viewpoint tourists enjoy a wonderful sight of San Martín Island, Bossetti Fall and Upper Circuit. People who use a wheelchair will not be able to do the next journey, as the footbridges have several steps but they will board the bus again and be taken to the end of the circuit, where there is the beautiful landscape of the Falls. At this point, two big lifts are under construction which, in a few months, will let a person who uses a wheelchair go up and down the viewpoint without difficulty.
There are no adapted vehicles for transporting wheelchairs in Puerto Iguazú, so the most comfortable (but not adapted) vehicles are used with personalized assistance to give people with disabilities the best transport possible.
Of course there are also places in Buenos Aires, we are not an exception on that, that are not accessible. But, as I said, so much is ready to receive people with all kinds of abilities and I'd love to show them all that this country has to offer.
If you are adventurous, there are also adapted skiing programs for people with physical or intellectual disabilities in the mountain village of San Martín de los Andes.
The lessons cater to each disability and include all kinds of necessary equipment. They are given by specialized instructors. Programs are available for beginner and advanced skiers.
This beautiful Andes mountain range village is a tourist centre of about 20,000 inhabitants, its economy is based almost exclusively on tourism. Its population is the main settlement and offers Lanín National Park's service. This National Park is the most extensive in the province and headquarters of the province's 'intendencia' (administration). San Martín de los Andes is an international tourist centre that can be visited all year round: hills, rivers, streams, cascades, native woods and lakes offer you their noble nature so that you can enjoy the different activities, tours and sports. The main attraction in winter is Chapelco ski resort, it is the trendiest in Latin America.
All the services are characterized by the kind and hospitable mountain range spirit. Chapelco Airport "Aviador Carlos Campos" (Carlos Campos Aviator), one of the main arrival points in San Martín de los Andes, has accessible facilities and an adapted toilet located in VIP lounge. The bus terminal is a building that can be reached from the street without difficulties, but it does not have accessible toilets.
San Martín de los Andes is a city that is always working to optimize accessibility conditions with its urban design and the constant projects to make services and attractions accessible.
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