Every year, thousands of people do the Inca Trail. They usually complete the 43-km trail in 4 days. For most of them, the trip is their lifetime experience and fulfillment of their personal ambitions. The satisfaction of having completed the trek and visiting the spectacular Incan city of Machu Picchu is hard to beat. Although, this feeling is even better if you know that all porters helping you along the way have been treated well and with the respect they deserve. Now, most trekkers are organized by a local tour operator. No draughts are allowed to enter the Inca Trail, only porters. For that reason, all camping equipment (i.e. personal tents, dining tents, kitchen tents, tables, chairs, stoves, bottle gas, and food) is carried on the backs of human porters. Prices of this 4-day trek vary significantly depending on porter´s and other staff´s wages and conditions provided by each company. However, if you try to find out if a company looks after their porters well, it can be quite difficult as porters can be instructed to tell you they receive more than they really do. They are also afraid to not lose their jobs.
In April 2002, a new law was introduced that have improved porter´s working conditions dramatically!! The law came into force due to many years of exploitation!! New minimum wage for all porters was set to USD 10 per day. In 2005, the wage increased to 43 Soles (USD 15) per day. Even though, the law exists, it is not being enforced and many companies still pay their porters as low as USD 5 per day. New maximum weight that a porter can carry was limited to 20 kg (15 kg of load + 5 kg of porter´s personal items) compared to previous 45 kg.
All porters have a weight carried checked by government officials at checkpoints of the trail. However, even this system is abused and many tour operators push their Tour Guides and Tour Guide Assistants to carry lots of loads across the checkpoints and behind them, they drop the loads to be picked up by porters. Tourists, who have hired a personal porter, are frequently asked to carry their own backpacks through the checkpoints as well. If you hire a personal porter, do not accept this practice and ensure that your porter is fully loaded when he is being weighed at the checkpoints. Some of the worst companies restrict the amount of personal items, which a porter can take with him, imposing upon his personal allowance of 5 kg. Most of porters are afraid that if their blankets are too heavy or they have packed too many warm clothes, they exceed the 20 kg weight limit and receive a fine, which a travel agency then deducts from their wages. Obviously, a decent travel agency does not practice such activities!!
Travel Tour Group DOES NOT permit this exploitation!! We guarantee that our porters carry only an amount given by the Peruvian law!! There is still a long way to go when it comes to a reserve of adequate meals, backpacks and warm dry sleeping accommodation. Tierras Vivas works with porter´s laws, Tierras Vivas provides all equipment to the porter to hike to Inca Trail as you will see when you hike with us.