As part of our commitment to responsible tourism, we try to schedule guides, porters, cooks and muleteers programs at the beginning of each month. This means that they have more balanced programs (beneficial for those with families) and also have guaranteed work days for the month.
We follow both ecologically and economically sustainable and responsible business practices, including above-average wages for our guides, cooks, muleteers and porters. Our policy of booking treks and tours in advance means that our staff can anticipate and depend on Apu Andino’s income. Our staff participates in environmental policy training, and follows these guidelines on our treks. From biodegradables materials to communities inclusion we do our best in order to impact at minimum with our actions on the mountains.
Community Inclusion (Willoq Porters Community)
1st of all you need to know What is a porter?
A porter is the one of the important piece on the Inca Trail, and the most misunderstood both by tourists as well as Inca Trail tour operators in its majority.
Without them anyone would be able to do the Inca Trail, they are the ones carrying all the necessary implements to make your experience as pleasant as possible.
Almost all porters on the Inca Trail are from the countryside; their first language is Quechua, the official language of the Incas. In fact the majority of these people are still pure blooded Quechua. Many of their traditions and superstitions have remained unchanged since well before the Spanish arrived. Unfortunately these people have remained quiet and humble and easily manipulated by tour operators who exploit them; 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.
Our government has created the Law of the Porter, in which tour agencies are required to give porters appropriate conditions, though sadly many of these regulations are not met.
Please make sure that the agency you are hiring really respects the Porter Law and ask for proof of this. Otherwise you will be part of this ill-treatment.
Normally low prices imply ill-treatment and/or exploitation of Inca Trail porters.
Apu Andino’s Porters Community
Our porters come from Willoq Patakancha, the land of the last descendants of the Incas.
Willoq is a rural community that belongs to the district of Ollantaytambo province of Urubamba, Cusco region. It is located 17 km uphill along Patacancha river basin, at an altitude of 3400 Willoq, also known as the origin of Huayruros (red and black seed) bicolor mainly by clothing of its inhabitants; their customs go hand in hand with the activities taking place, including welcoming visitors. All of them speak Quechua (Peru Native Language), which makes it a Little bit difficult to communicate with then since they barely speak Spanish, but they still conserve the generosity and innocence of the ancient towns.
We call them Quechuas (descendants of the Inca people) and they are doing this job along the Inca Trail for more than 36 years. Formen’s clothing the most distinctive is the handwoven poncho. Nearly every Quechua man and boy has a poncho, generally red in colour decorated with intricate designs. Each district has a distinctive pattern. In some communities such as Huilloc (Willoq), Patacancha, and many villages ponchos are worn as daily attire, and in order to support their identity and culture we consider it important to use this traditional clothing on the Inca Trail.
It is important to us to involve porters in the group. Take some coca leaves to share with them and try to learn a couple of basic words in Quechua (your guide will be very happy to help you). All of them have amazing stories about traditions and life in their villages. At the end of the trek don’t forget to show them that you appreciated their work and valued their contribution towards the trek by thanking them verbally and giving them a tip.
Apu Andino’s Porters Welfare
We have the privilege to work with Andean indigenous people! And we treat everyone the same: specially our Porter- the way we ourselves wish to be treated, with integrity, respect and sincerity.
The Peruvian government introduced the Porters Law which states that a porter should receive a minimum wage of 43 Soles per day (about US$15). Unfortunately most of the companies do not respect this, evading the law in order to reduce their budget. Paying a low price for an Inca Trail tour is definitely an indicator that their team (especially porters) is not receiving a good salary.
The maximum weight that a porter is supposed to carry on the Inca Trail is 20kg. This includes a 4kg personal allowance for items such as blankets and clothes. Weight is regulated at controls along the trail. This regulation has been strictly enforced but some companies still trying to avoid this by making great efforts to get around them. Tourists who have hired a personal porter are often asked to carry their own bags through the check points and guides and assistants temporarily take some of the load. We ask tourist not to accept this practice. For this include 8kg porters will carry in our Inca Trail service, this is very important for you in order to consider 2 times the weight you bring with you for the Inca Trail. Our porters already know what they carry and organize their groups very well in order to follow each regulation.
Meals & Sleeping Conditions
Some companies also restrict the amount of personal items that a porter can take with him; most of them are scared that if their blankets are too heavy or they have packed too many warm clothes then they will exceed the 20kg limit and receive a fine which the company will then deduct from their wages.
We, as a responsible company, look after our porters on the trek. Many porters are given very little to eat on the trail or what its worse companies consider tourist the left-overs, that are divided up amongst them, part of their meal. Our cooks have extra budget to buy food for our porters, and they cook also for them; we would like to say that they eat the same food we provide to our hiker, but they simple have a different taste and prefer a different menu.
In general porters sleep together in dining or Kitchen tents. You may also notice that very few dining tents have integral floors to keep out the cold and damp. When it rains the floor can become like a river running through the tent, this is definitely something all companies should consider. When it comes to providing warm, our porters are provided with sleeping mats & warm sleeping bags. We are still improving on providing our porters the best tools & treatment.