How disabled travelers can tour Machu Picchu
Regarding "Move Over, Machu Picchu," by Christopher Reynolds [March 18]: In 2010, we booked a 17-day South American cruise. The cruise line offered a five-day tour of Machu Picchu for $1,999 each a person. Thinking that was too much money and too many days, we turned to the Web, where I found a tour operator named Amazing Peru offering three days escorted for $899 for both of us.
The reason I write is to encourage the disabled to try this land tour. I started with the tour operator by saying I could not possibly climb the rocks and hills of Machu Picchu, and he told me there were numerous rest stops with comfortable benches. I selected the first stop, about 50 steps inside the main gate, where I sat with two other cane-wielding travelers, overlooking about 60% of the ruins. I took pictures as my wife followed the guide, so we were pleasantly surprised.
My wife is not disabled, but at 80, she asked for help on the walking tour. The head tour guide assigned his younger assistant, who found a long tree branch he called her walking staff and stayed with her the entire two hours of the tour. Because of crowds, the head guide said they might not climb to the very top, but my wife complained so she and her young guide split from the larger group and went right to the top of the park.
In Cuzco, the steps to the cathedral, the monastery entry and cobblestone streets presented some challenges, but our tour guides and the hotel employees were more than kind. Cuzco is truly a wonderful attraction and largely accessible to the handicapped.
Give her a break
Regarding "TSA Tests Screening Changes for Seniors," by Mary Forgione [Need to Know, March 18]: I am an 84-year-old woman with an infection in my titanium knee, so I recently required a wheelchair at Burbank Airport. I am used to the pat-down because I travel to Las Vegas quite often to visit family, but this trip I not only went through the X-ray and a pat-down but also was taken to a private room for a more intense pat-down. I kept asking what was going on, but no one would say, except one woman who said it could be my "lotion." If lotion was setting off alarms, the majority of people would be in the pat-down line. With the new Transportation Security Administration testing the relaxation of the rule, I hope Burbank and other airports will give seniors a break.
Birding in Broome
Thanks for a great article about Broome, Australia ["At the End of the World, Mate," by Amanda Jones, Feb. 26]. Broome presents itself as one of Australia's great eco-zones with much to see. Not to be missed is the Broome Bird Observatory and nature center on Roebuck Bay. The observatory has camping and great trails through the bush and along the bay. A wonderful shade house can be enjoyed with views into the bush to see wildlife passing through. It's a great place to bring your lunch and enjoy the wildlife. The observatory also offers guided Mangrove tours, when the 27-foot tide allows it. Reservations are a must; the number of people on tours is limited. Broome Bird Observatory, Crab Creek Road, Broome, Australia; http://www.broomebirdobservatory.com.
Linda and Lee Freeman
Canyon Lake, Calif.
Some seat choice
The March 11 letter about having to pay to choose a seat on British Airways reminded me that we have upcoming reservations with American Airlines. We will be going on Iberia from Chicago to Madrid, and we are using American's reservation system. We cannot choose our seats until 24 hours before departure. We can't even pay for the privilege of choosing earlier. We'll probably have horrible seats for a long flight even though we made the reservations in December.
Advice without borders
The advice given to Jessica Gelt ["Savoring Life and Noodles in Hanoi," March 11] by Mai Thi Thu Trang — "Places that are good are normally places that old people come to eat because they believe in quality" — applies to restaurants everywhere, not just in Hanoi. I would add that not only do old people know quality, they also tend to gravitate to value. If you see a lot of silver, gray or blue hairs, you're going to get a very good meal at a very fair price.
The right words about Japan
Thank you for the excellent article by Andrew Bender on Japan ["It All Starts With a Bow," March 11]. It put into words things I think about Japan when I'm visiting. I try to tell my friends about the experience, but his article says it so much better than I can. My friends think I'm just prejudiced (I am) when I give them a hard time about looking for all the weird things they can find about Japan and the Japanese. I hardly ever read anything about Japan without a bunch of those silly things. Bender's article did a great job of playing it straight.