OUR INCA TRAIL PORTERS
Many times, tourists on the verge of giving up the hike have encountered encouragement by looking at the Inca trail porters. How can these guys be able to lift the heavy loads without greater effort? The question seems to arise, How could they overpass everyone by far?. There are more unknown facts that we promise to share with you so you can understand the day you will hike the Inca Trail.
Who are the Inca trail porters?
Without them, the Inca trail hike would be a miserable experience. The majority of them are Andean men who saw an opportunity to get some more income besides working only in agriculture, they come from the nearby communities in the Sacred Valley, Lares, and the Anta plains. They do an amazing job at getting the food and everything else to camp, besides handling a variety of tasks simultaneously. They are the ones who probably work the most.
How did they begin to work as Inca trail porters?
Porters´ jobs always took a fundamental part in so many expeditions accomplished in these regions. When the Inca trail was officially announced in the 1970s as a trekking path to get to Machu Picchu, the few operating tour companies recruited porters who helped early Inca trail hikers to get to the ancient Incan Ruin.
Porters were often the unsung heroes, but it wasn’t until 2001 that the Government organization passed law No. 27607, so they would receive a more decent salary. Before the law was made, they had to move loads up to 50 kg. Some had to travel even by night to secure space for the group at the camp. Hard work for stingy salaries.
New Inca Trail Porters 2023 law
The new law mandates that the porters should rest 5 days before starting another trek and their salary will be $140 for a four-day trip, more than double 2022 earnings. Inca Trail operational costs rise from 200% to 300%. Tour prices increase by up to 50%-100%. Travel companies must offer health insurance, AFP, and accident insurance to porters.
The new law brings some disadvantages
Before the new law, porters worked 21 days and took a 7-day break. Many of the porters live far away, some up to 10 hours away, so it was convenient for them to work often and go on rest. But now with the new law that they have to rest 5 days before going on another trip, it is not convenient for them because they spend on their transportation and food to return home. Many of the porters have gone to work in the mine or in another job. Therefore, there is a shortage of porters on the Inca Trail. This law has affected porters who come from far away.
Porters, Not Pack Animals. Why?
The Inca Trail avoids using pack animals to preserve its original condition, as their hooves can damage the trail. The narrow and steep sections, as well as tunnels, make it difficult for pack animals to navigate. Llamas are an option but limited by weight capacity. Porters remain the efficient choice for the Inca Trail.
How many porters will be accompanying your group on the Inca Trail?
The number of porters on the Inca Trail varies with the group size. Responsible travel agencies typically assign three porters for every two trekkers.
Where do you meet the porters on Inca Trail?
At the Inca Trail’s Km 82 Checkpoint, you will meet your porters for the 4-day hike. At the checkpoint, people who work for INC and Sernanp weigh porters’ packs to ensure compliance with the 20 kg limit. Overweight loads lead to fines for tour operators, and repeated violations can lead to license revocation.
What makes the Inca trail porters special?
It is incredible that these men, besides leaving the camp 1 hour after tourists, hit the next camp 2 hours ahead and set up again the tends, help the cook, and so on. They manage such great strength that still their foreheads bead in sweat.
Most of the time, they speak in Quechua because this is their mother tongue, so they can tell jokes and puns laughing amongst themselves; however, some adults can´t be without their coca leave.
They speak Spanish, but yet they can feel bashful, therefore break the ice by introducing your name in a friendly manner, and they will talk to you back. They will be your friends and trip partners, and any tour guide can translate for you willingly if you wish to talk to any of them.
Tipping Inca trail porters
May tipping be their last hope to get some more income to home to feed their family or afford their children’s school budget. On average the porters’ wage is in the lowest edge in comparison the cook and guides salary, it doesn´t matter which company they are working at.
Although tipping is not an obligation; However as anywhere on the planet, this became customary on the Inca trail as well. So, a small farewell ceremony is held on the afternoon of day three, where you have a chance to thank them; it could be a smile and a simple “Muchas gracias” or if you planned something special to tip them, do it, and they will be thankful. After that, you won´t meet again so don´t forget.
How much to tip?
It is advisable to carry some soles (national currency) so you will be making it easy for them. An adorable tip is ranging about 70 – 80 soles per porter for the entire journey. Tipping for the Chief chef is estimated at over 120 soles and about 100 soles for the assistant.
Important: Give them what you can afford and see, who according to you, did a better job. Any tip is good!!
Inca trail porter weight limit
In January 2001, the government regulations related to Porter´s law set up a 25 kg weight limit, including each Porter´s own clothes and bedding. So that was a warning for the companies to treat better their porters before they would get a high fine. It clearly shows that before the regulations had been set up, Inca trail porters were forced to carry more weight and not necessarily treated well. Nowadays, each porter´s pack should pass the weighing process at the checkpoint at KM 82.
Pick the responsible travel company
Some tour operators stick to the legal standards given on the law and treat their porters fairly. However, others seem to forget about ethical practices while hiring porters to work for them on the Inca trail.
In any way, you can search for client testimonials or ask former Inca trail hikers for recommendations. The cheaper the tour costs, the more the porters are compromised to heft heavier loads, putting aside their health problems.
At AB Expeditions, by no means we can stand our backbone staff to starve from hunger or extreme temperatures. We give them proper equipment, uniforms, padded strap backpacks, and most importantly we pay a fair wage.
Nowadays, you can´t be surprised by seeing women Inca trail porters carrying camping gear or cooking utensils. It wasn’t too long since tour companies began to hire them, and since then, women porters also became breadwinners for the family. They are Indigenous Quechua women from outlying communities and can carry about 15 kg of load. Women can’t get left behind too!!
WHAT AB EXPEDITIONS DO FOR THEIR PORTERS
Proper Equipment for our amazing Porters
AB Expeditions equips all porters with proper trekking gear, including shirts, trekking pants, warmed sweaters, rain jackets, hiking shoes, hats, and headlamps. Female porters receive skirts and dresses.
Nutritious Meals for our Porters
We are praised for serving abundant food on our tours, and this extends to the porters who receive the same meals as clients. They enjoy it in the dining tent or separately, along with water bottles and coca tea for hydration and relaxation.
Tents and Sleeping Bags for our Porters
AB Expeditions stands out by providing unique benefits to porters. They receive comfortable tents and warm, down sleeping bags for freezing mountain nights. The company prioritizes Porter’s welfare, treating them and all Peruvian people with fairness, appreciation, and equality.