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Blind on the Inca Trail – Discrimination Inclusive

02/09/2010 | 2 comments

R. Leidner and wife at Machu PicchuPhoto: Ruediger Leidner accompanied by his wife at Machu Picchu.

Under the sub-heading, "States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to sporting, recreational and tourism venues", (article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), Ruediger Leidner tells of his struggles to be included in a group of tourists who had come to walk the famous Inca Trail. Ruediger is blind.

While he coped well with the high altitude and the rough trail, the tour operators and checkpoint guards turned out to be a more significant challenge than he had ever expected.    

Reference: Article 30 of the CRPD

Download the 6-page report from Ruediger Leidner's trip to Peru from the right-hand column (PDF format).

About the author

Ruediger Leidner, born 1950, is president of the Tourism Coordination Board of the German Association of blind and partially sighted persons and was elected president of the National Coordination Board on Tourism For All in May 2010. Between 2002 and 2007 he was charged with issues of German and European tourism policy in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology in Berlin and at the European Commission in Brussels.


2 comment(s) posted

Posted by Ambrose Ivor on 2010/11/07 - 23:52:07

Posting by Dr. Hans Wenzel, Berlin


Remarks to: “Blind on the Inka Trail – Discrimination inclusive”

I would like to rectify some assertions made by Ruediger Leidner in the article above.

1. He wrote: “Since I was accompanied by my wife, there was no reason to ask the tour operator for any additional arrangements or assistance because of my disability.” One should consider, however, that the tour operator and the guides could have been taken precautions to make the
tour more convenient for all members of the group if they were informed in advance. In my feeling, he should have been mentioned his disability to the tour operator.

2. He wrote: “One of the group members who obviously had problems walking at this height could not follow us for the whole walk.” This is not correct. Actually, this person suffered from a virus disease. This
was the reason for not being able to follow and for the medical treatment later. Actually, it was the decision of the medical doctor after the medical treatment in Cusco that she can walk the Salkantay Trail. If the doctor had made another decision she would have remained in the hotel.

3. He wrote: “Although my wife and me managed to reach Machu Picchu (where as one of our group members had to give up on the first day and met us in Machu Picchu).” The reason for giving up was also a virus disease of my wife. It was not the height or personal condition as the reader might think. She was not able to eat and drink this morning.
After a first medical treatment, my wife would have been able to walk the Inca Trail. However, we decided to return for safety reasons and not to stress the other participants.

4. He wrote: “His final argument made his real attitude apparent: As I again tried to explain that it is only me who can evaluate the risks I want to take and that I did not ask for assistance by the tour operator
he stated that the organiser could be blamed by other participants because of the participation of a person with a disability, for “they want to relax and enjoy their holidays and would not like to be
confronted with the problems of the world”. He also mentioned that the “optimal solution” for me from his point of view would have been an “individual tour” for my wife and me only without any other members.” I think that the representative was experienced enough to evaluate the
risks, and he was right – it was indeed very risky for Rüdiger Leidner to walk the Inca Trail as the healthy problems and medial treatment needed after the Inca Trail revealed. Additionally, Rüdiger Leidner
forgot to mention, that it took him two times longer to walk one stage of the Inca Trail compared to a non-disabled hiker. As a consequence, one of the two guides accompanying the group had to walk exclusive with him and his wife, and other members of the group had to walk alone.
Furthermore the porters had to sleep several hours outdoors because the
dining tent where they usually slept was not free yet. He does not yet recognize that he undertook the tour partially on the costs of the guides, porters and the other participants. Therefore, indeed an individual tour would have been the better solution.

Finally I would like to remark that I honour that the walk of the Inca Trail by him was no mean feat. However, he had good luck - it could have come also to another end. There are plenty of examples where
persons overestimated their abilities and came to death in the mountains. I think, the representative of the tour operator acted
correctly to elucidate the risks. It is not correct to call this “discrimination” because Rüdiger Leidner was indeed not discriminated neither by the tour operator nor by the participants!

Dr. Hans Wenzel

Posted by Ambrose Ivor on 2011/09/18 - 17:49:17

Comment added by Web editor, Ivor Ambrose, on behalf of ENAT member.
Isn't it funny that the only comment to my report was written by someone who did not take part in the trekking tour on the Inka Trail!

Rüdiger Leidner

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