A full one month in Argentina has allowed us time to experience and reflect on our travels in regards to wheelchair accessibility in this country. Of course, my opinion below is subjective and only results from a limited time travelling within a small region of Argentina (Buenos Aires – Iguazu – Salta). If you have had different experiences – please post them here!

How wheelchair accessible is Argentina?

Below we provide a rating and explanation of the categories we regard as most important: From 1 (Very Bad) to 10 (Excellent).

Transport – 8 points

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Bus in Buenos Aires

Argentina is a huge country and thus it is unavoidable to take inland flights (we recommend Aerolineas Argentinas). The inland flights all had good assistants and cabin wheelchairs which brought me to my seat. In Buenos Aires you can also book special vehicles with wheelchair ramps. However, they are very expensive (four times the taxi price!). ‘Camionetta’ taxis (either Renault Kangoo or Citroen Berlingo), which charge normal taxi rates, are a good alternative if you have somebody to transfer you: The vehicles are higher, have wide opening doors and have enough space in the back for a manual, foldable wheelchair. They can be ordered via the Taxi Company (Premium). Most buses of Buenos Aires are low-lying buses with at least one spot for wheelchairs. Other customers will help you to get into the bus. In Igazu we also found Camionetta taxis that we also rented for a full day. Unfortunately there was no wheelchair accessible bus in Salta and we also could not find Camionetta taxis. However, due to the size of the much better sidewalks and the small size of the town, we could walk to most desired destinations. For our road tour we found, after several calls, a Camioneta that we could rent (www.andinascarrental.com.ar).

Infrastructure – 6 points

In Argentina the sidewalks are under the responsibility of the house owners – which results in a mosaic of different surfaces every 10 metres. Often the age and condition of the house will be reflected in the sidewalk and the transition from one property to the next can be a barrier. There are ramps on and off the sidewalks only at large street crossings. You have to be pretty brave to drive on the streets, as the Argentinean driving style is challenging and you might encounter potholes there as well. In smaller towns the situation can even be worse, with cobble stone and sometimes even dirt roads. However, my wheelchair survived one month of Argentina without permanent damage.

Hotels – 7 points

Argentina satisfies all kinds of accommodation needs – you can find anything from a five-star boutique hotel to the multi-bed hostel. Every newly built hotel needs to have by law a wheelchair accessible room. However, some seem to define ‘accessible’ fairly broadly with bathrooms being the same size as other rooms. Only seldom we found a fully wheelchair accessible bathroom with a roll-in shower. However, as most bathrooms have a drainage we often redefined the toilet as a sit-in shower. Private accommodation or hostels provided more space for maneuvering. So before your visit go to: www.wheelchairtraveller.org and verify with the hotel via phone.

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Bathroom in Conquistador Hotel in Buenos Aires

Food and Drinks – 9 Points

An Argentinean law requires all restaurants to offer an accessible bathroom. Therefore, even very small restaurants will have a wheelchair accessible bathroom. Even though most restaurants have steps to get in, my wheelchair always found a place in any restaurant with the offer of helping hands, sometimes from the cleaner or even the chef himself. Buenos Aires has all culinary wishes any other metropolis would offer from the excellent Asado to vegetarian sushi. In the rural areas, the kitchen might seem a bit monotonous – with Empanadas (carne, queso, quachi) and Parillas (grilled meat) typical fare. However, the regional specialties are excellent and sometimes we found in the most remote village extraordinary restaurants with regional specialties and a delicious wine selection. A healthy food culture is developing, with nature shops and wholegrain bakeries (e.g. Hausbrot) popping up, especially in Buenos Aires. But if you are after a gluten and carbohydrate light diet, Argentina will not be easy. Vegetarians have a bit of a limited option with pizzas, pastas and Ensaladas (salads).

Security – 3 points

Unfortunately, I can’t be too objective on this topic, as we were robbed after three days in our apartment in Buenos Aires. Therefore, make sure that in Buenos Aires you only book accommodation with security officers and cameras (see also the blog article Buenos Aires – a hate/love relationship). However, in other parts of the country (Salta and Igazu), we felt safe. The shops are not like in Buenos Aires closed and can only be opened after a person opens from inside and residential areas do not resemble high security prisons. However, also here the Argentineans hold their bags in front and do not leave any valuables out in the open unattended.

Sightseeing – 10 Points

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A Walkway at the Iguazu Waterfalls from the Argentinian side

Many of the tourist sites are accessible or have a separate accessible entrance. There are always helping hands to assist. At the waterfall at Igazu, there are many accessible paths (even though sometimes a bit lumpy). All museums that I visited had a elevator/lift so that I could enter all parts of the exhibitions. Some ramps are a bit steep but always accessible with a helping hand. Most of the official museums are free for wheelchair users and guardians. The most amazing aspect of Argentina is its natural landscape, which can mostly be accessed in the comfortable seat of a car.

Health services – 8 Points

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Physiotherapy in Salta

Argentina has excellent doctors and most health services are for free. As I had a lung infection while there, I can verify that in person. Public hospitals might not be equipped with all the most recent technologies, but private clinics are. As to be expected, here you will have to pay a moderate fee. In the bigger cities, you will also find very experienced physiotherapists. Also, Argentineans seem to be as phlegmatic as me as you can find a Pharmacy (Farmacia) on every other corner.

Handling of wheelchair users – 8 Points

The Argentineans are always wiling to help and do not make a special deal out of it. To access the bus or to overcome some steep stairs, there were always helping hands. However, it does not seem to be a custom to step aside for wheelchairs or children’s buggies. But with a strong and directed ‘Permisso!’ I always got a free way.