The Inca Trail that leads to the famous Inka citadel of Machu Picchu in Cusco, is one of the most popular and well-known excursions in Peru. The walk from Kilometer 43 groups a series of Inkas archaeological remains incredibly preserved. Along the route the natural landscape is impressive, with incredible views of snow-capped mountains and the cloud forest.
Visitors from all over the world come to Peru, not only to see Machu Picchu, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, but also to do the Inca Trail. Permits for the Inca Trail are in high demand, due to the limited number of entries per day. Many times these permits are difficult to obtain as availability decreases as the high season approaches (June-August), which is not surprising since this route is one of the best in its kind.
The Inca Trail starts from a point in the Sacred Valley, called “Kilometer 88”. To begin the journey, cross a narrow bridge in Kusicancha, and then go to the left side of a eucalyptus forest. This trip is not suitable for people with heart disease, since it goes above 4600 masl. The path winds up, down and around the mountains on the ancient stone carved stairs, and then follows three steps of high Andean mountains, one of them with a disturbing name, “Paso de la Mujer Muerta”. Once at the top, when it is possible to catch your breath, you will surely be amazed again by the truly spectacular views of the snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera del Vilcanota. On the way visitors can experience a series of microclimates and observe the changes in flora and fauna, typical of the high Andes and the cloud forest as well as the enormous biological diversity of the Amazon.
Four days later, hikers will arrive in the magnificent city of Machu Picchu, discovered more than 100 years ago by an American professor by the name of Hiram Bingham. Arriving at Machu Picchu in the morning and seeing the sunrise is a worthy sight to be appreciated and completing the Camino del Inca is one of the best sensations in the world! Once in Machu Picchu you will climb to the top of Huayna Picchu for an incomparable view of the Historical Sanctuary, the neighboring town of Aguas Calientes and the Urubamba Valley.
The satisfaction of having completed the tour and reaching the spectacular Inca ruins of Machu Picchu is hard to beat. However, the feeling is even better knowing that all the carriers have been well cared for and treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Now that most Inca Trail hikers need to take a walk organized by a local tour operator, the camping equipment (tents, dining tent, kitchen tent, tables, chairs, kitchen, gas tank and food) is carried in the backs of human porters. Pack animals such as horses, mules and llamas are prohibited on this route. Tour operators’ prices for this 4-day trip can vary considerably, as can the rates of remuneration to the carrier and conditions established by each company. However, trying to find out whether a company deals with its porters or not can be quite difficult.
Who is the Carrier?
The carrier, is the person who works for Travel Agencies and has the function of transporting, on his back, the tents, kitchen equipment, food, tables, banks, menajería, gas cylinders and everything necessary , to prepare the dining tents, kitchen tents, dormitory tents, etc. That is, it is the person who takes everything necessary to build the camps during the Walk to Machu Picchu. Also, you can help with the backpacks and ease the walk to the visitor.
The carriers are from Cusco, from the upper Andean and Quechua speaking areas, some bilingual (Spanish and Quechua), people who work in the field, farmers, who have seen an intelligent way to increase their income, working as “carriers”, for the Travel agencies, which commercialize tourist routes.
In the particular case of alternative routes to the Inca Trail, animals are used to carry the equipment. However, on the Inca Trail it is forbidden to bring animals in order to protect the original Inca Trail. That is why the services of carriers are required.
What is the job of the Carrier?
We must point out that the “Carrier” is the most important worker of the entire team of professionals, who will accompany him during his walk along the Inca Trail, this support staff has the responsibility to set up the camp that has to be ready on arrival of the group; however, they leave at the same time as the group of tourists and carry more weight (14 kg.).
How do they do that?
During the walk the carriers go at a brisk pace, pass to the groups, even some stretches do it running, in this way they manage to get ahead and comply with their work in a timely manner.
How much tip Inca Trail?
Considering that porters generally come from very poor areas, and make little on the trail for very hard work, a tip is important. The new regulations have set a minimum wage for porters, although many companies still get by paying less. With that said, the less you pay for the trek, the less the porters are going to be paid. If you pay around $250, I can almost assure you your porters are getting the short end of the walking stick. As for tipping, if each person on the trek gives a few dollars to each porter per day, which will amount to perhaps $25 – $35 total, it will make a big difference in the lives of these individuals who are going days without seeing their families to carry most of your belogings and equipment. If you are concerned about the treatment of the porters and would like more information, contact the Inka Porter Project (or through the SAE clubhouse in Cusco)
How much tip Inca Trail to the guide and cook should depend on the quality of the service he received and his will. However, even if you think the food was terrible and the guide did not speak or explain well (which we hope is not the case), the carriers were probably the ones who worked a lot with the camping equipment and tents, so you do not forget to leave a tip. How much tip Inca trail depends on you, but as approx. It is recommended that each carrier in your group takes home an extra 45 to 55 soles. Try to take a lot of small changes so you can tip directly to the porters. This is much better than giving the money to the cook or guide of those who later split up among the porters so often the money is poorly distributed.