When you visit the Andes and go on the Inca trail, you barely carry anything. It’s the Inca Trail Porters that do the entire job and take the load into their own hands. For roughly 4 days, they will carry everything for you, while also making sure that you have access to all the stuff and items you need. Since pack animals are not allowed on the trail, it’s the porter that has to carry all of that. Of course, you can also hire your own porter if you want him to assist with any of your personal items.
What is the role of Inca Trail Porters?
The porters will carry everything for you, as you enter the Inca Trail and enjoy the sights and all the amazing experiences. They are the ones that walk for a very long time wearing backpacks. They set up camps and then set them down, all while handling anything else related to logistics. Most of the time, the Inca Trail Porters are locals from the region, and they know the trail very well. That makes it simple for them to not only assist tourists and make a living, but they also keep tourists safe and away from any potential dangers.
Things to know about porter welfare
Porters are very important for the tourism industry in Peru. That’s why there’s a Porter Protection law that’s focused on keeping them safe and safeguarding their standards of work. According to this law, a porter needs to have access to the right equipment and clothing, and there’s also a minimal wage they need to receive per day. In order to make sure there are no health issues, the load limit is 20 kg for every porter.
The National Superintendency of Labor Inspection does make some inspections randomly to ensure that porter laws are applied properly. Otherwise, there will be sanctions to keep in mind, and that’s incredibly important to take into consideration.
Where do you meet Inca Trail Porters?
Usually you meet them at the start of the trail, and then pass via the Km 82 control point. The officials will check your documents and permits, and they will weight everything to ensure you are not getting past the legal limit. In case a porter’s load goes over 20 kg, then the tour operator will have to deal with a fine. If a company has a lot of penalties, then they will not have a license to operate on the trail. This is very serious, and it’s all due to the legal requirements in Peru.
Some companies are creating workshops and all kinds of training sessions for the Inca Trail Porters. They want to make sure that their skills and performance are at their highest. Plus, they want to keep the porters safe, since that helps make the entire experience more engaging and rewarding for everyone involved, which is what matters the most here. Most reputable companies will offer personal accident insurance to their porters, just to ensure everything is ok and that they are protected.
Select the right tour operator
One of the challenges that appear when you want to go on the Inca Trail is that there are a lot of reputable companies, but also many shady ones. You don’t really know exactly who is authorized to do treks on the trail. Only certain companies have the certification needed for something like this, so try to keep that in mind.
What you can do is to study the ethical practices of a business. Compare the websites of tour operators and see their legal standards and the way they are involved with the local community. You also want to study client testimonials and even ask trekkers about their experience on forums if possible. Trying to find as much information as possible does help a lot, and it will give you a good insight into that company. If anything seems strange or fishy, you can easily move on to the next business in line.
If you see that a company appears to be reputable, but they have a low price point, ask them why is that. Do remember that they have to pay all kinds of fees, porter welfare and a variety of other things. That’s why prices can’t be too low. You also want to know the number of porters that will come with your group. Normally companies bring 3 porters per group, it all comes down to the group size.
Why are pack animals not allowed?
The reason is simple, there’s a lot of foot traffic and the pack animal hooves are very hard on the path and stone steps of the Inca Trail. As a result, there’s a decision to not allow animals in order to protect the integrity of the trail. It’s easy to understand why the decision was made this way, and it certainly shows the importance of keeping the trail safe and away from any possible dangers.
Can you tip the Inca Trail Porters?
It’s a good idea to interact with porters during the trip and you can tip them as much as you want. If you know Spanish, speak with them, as this will make the experience and interaction a lot more pleasant for everyone involved. This will also help you learn more about life in this region, the challenges they have and also the best spots that you can check out during your trip. Normally, people tip $25 per porter and $30 for the cook.
Hiring the Inca Trail Porters
It’s possible to hire a porter that will carry either 8 kg or 15 kg of your personal items. While this is not a mandatory service, it will help you quite a lot. Having a private porter makes sense, so you want to book one when you are handling the Inca Trail permits. Keep in mind that just 500 trail permits are offered on a daily basis, and this includes staff like porters. If you want a private porter, that also means you have to pay for their entrance fees, food and salary. However, it’s well worth it to do so, as it will help you get more items you need, and it’s a great way to support the local economy too!