The Inca Trail Porters
Inca Trail Porters are the most important persons on the adventure trek especially for the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and perhaps the most misunderstood both by tourists as well as other tour operators. Sadly, many tour operators don’t give them the importance they deserve, NOT providing them with adequate clothing for their jobs, overloading them, not providing special gear for carrying things, paying them very low salaries and especially, giving them very poor nutrition. Because of this, you will see thirsty, hungry porters with a low morale along the route.
Thousands of people make the Classic Inca Trail each year. They typically complete the 45km mountainous trail in 4 days. For many the experience is a trip of a lifetime and the fulfillment of a personal ambition. The satisfaction of having completed the trek and arriving at the spectacular Inca ruins of Machu Picchu is hard to beat. However the feeling is even better if you know that all the porters helping you along the way have been well looked after and treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.
The Inca Trail Porters in Peru are some of the strongest men and women on earth. These rugged people carry loads for the trekking and expedition industry, working for only a few dollars a day. Porters can be seen carrying loads of over 20kgs at altitudes exceeding 4,000 Meters. This is often done in cotton jackets and sandals. Porters are typically lowland farmers who migrate to the popular trekking routes in search of work. The money they earn while trekking is essential to the cash-starved local economies of rural Peru.
Tragically, too many porters die every year while trekking from preventable altitude sickness, falls, and hypothermia. Still others are crippled by snow blindness and frostbite. Inca Trail Porters, who are the real backbone of the trekking industry, are working under the low basic right and facilities. There is still the lack of appropriate clothing, shelter, good wage and load limit and provision for treatment.
Inca Trail Porters Welfare
“Sunrise Peru Trek” understand that without doubt, for many visitors to Peru, the arrival at the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu after having completed the Inca Trail is the highpoint of their trip. For others it is a fulfillment of a lifelong dream. No matter who you are or what your religious beliefs are, the Inca Trail really is a special pilgrimage passing through spectacular mountain scenery, beautiful cloud forests with orchids and hummingbirds dotted with Inca ruins, finally arriving at the mysterious ancient city of Machu Picchu for sunrise.
The majority of the cooks and Inca Trail Porters are from the countryside communities, simple farmer or llama and alpaca herders who supplement their income by working on the Inca Trail during the busy months. Their first language is Quechua, the official language of the Incas, although many now speak Spanish. In fact the majority of these people are still pure blooded Quechua, the people who were governed by the Incas almost 500 years ago. Many of their traditions and superstitions have remained unchanged since well before the Spanish arrived. However, most would agree that these people have remained a quiet and humble folk and easily manipulated by both governments and tour operators who have been quick to exploit this hardworking source of workers.
We regulate the wages from 2012 we have increased our porters pay to 180 Soles. This followed discussions with the Porters Syndicate and the Ministry of Work who wanted the porters to be paid the equivalent to Peru’s minimum legal wage of 45 Soles per day as written in the Porters Law. This figure equates to about US$67 for the 4 days trek.
Considering this fact, dedicating to improve the porters working condition and dreaming to set an example to the trekking operators and trekkers, we have established a trekking company called “Sunrise Peru Trek”: with a Vision “A world in which trekkers experience the magnificence of Machu Picchu and its people while porters and their families live with economic, social and environmental justice” and our efforts are aimed at creating a strong backbone for the trekking industry.
Better working conditions and basic human rights of the porters and field staff are the cornerstone of “Sunrise Peru Trek”.
“Sunrise Peru Trek” follows these guidelines and encourages all stakeholders to follow them also:
- The Inca Trail Porters must be hired through formal contracts, with clear terms and conditions for insurance, wages, load limits, accident/disability treatment provisions and other facilities.
- Before hiring porters and other staff, health checkups must be provided.
- Required equipment must be provided to porters and other field staff, for example; sleeping tents, protective clothing, carrying equipment and kerosene for their own use.
Porters and other field staff must be provided the same standard of medical care as the client will be provided. Porters and other field staff must not be paid off because of illness and the staff leader must have authority to use the medical expenses for porters while they are sick.
- This Inca Trail Porters must not be allowed to carry more than 20 kg in high altitude, including personal allowance.
- All Inca Trail Porters should be provided training in First Aid, health and safety issues, altitude sickness, management of emergency situations, general health and hygiene, reproductive health education (HIV/AIDS/STI) English language, local flora and fauna and history. Focus will be given to those porters who are interested in career and personal development.
- Membership of porter unions and associations should be encouraged and supported, allowing porters to voice their own needs and concerns.
- “Sunrise Peru Trek”. empowers women by providing jobs and training as porter, porter/guide and guide
- We do not exploit child labour
- The same “Porters Law” that requires a minimum wage to be paid to porters also states that the maximum weight that a porter can carry on the Inca Trail is 20kg. This comprises 15kg of equipment from the trekking company plus 5kg of personal items such as warm clothes and bedding.
- At the beginning of 2005 we bought sleeping bags and warm clothes which were issued to all of our porters.
- We provide sustainable food to the porters on the Inca Trail is not usually very costly. Most porters, by request, prefer simple meals that include vegetable soups and a main course with plenty of carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and potatoes with meat.
- At sunrise Peru trek the porters are paid their salary as soon the finish the job.
- Trek Inca Trail with port.