At Explorandes, we have striven since our inception to be fair and contribute in the most supportive ways possible way to the communities we operate in; providing not only jobs but excellent working conditions. In this blog, we’ll share the policies that pertain to our team of porters and their communities. Knowing these policies will assist you in making responsible choices when selecting a company to manage your trek in the Peruvian Andes.
Unfortunately, there are companies that operate the Inca Trail that have little consideration for their ground staff. In the interest of greater profits, they may limit benefits or skimp on working conditions, like good food, comfortable sleeping conditions, and sturdy, good-fitting gear and equipment. Such companies often don’t comply with payment regulations, since although they pay the minimum amount imposed by law, they sometimes exclude payment for the fourth day of the trek and only pay their porters for three days.
- Are our porters getting a fair salary?
At Explorandes we pay our porters approximately 25% more than the minimum amount payment per day established by law, and we respect their full working hours by paying for the full four days of work on the Inca Trail. Additionally, we train our porters in the use of the banking system so they won’t risk losing their money by having it only in cash.
- What do our porters eat?
We prepare special meals for the first day and a half of trekking, including extra protein and carbohydrates to make up for the strenuous physical effort the porters are exerting. For the remaining days, we provide a per diem for them to buy their food, since carrying food for each of the days generates unnecessary weight for them.
- Where do our porters sleep?
We feel that compensation should not only include fair wages, but also enjoyable and safe working conditions for our ground crew. Therefore, in addition to paying among the highest salaries of all of the companies that operate the Inca road network, we provide technical equipment in great condition for all of our staff, including clothing, tents, mattresses, and all other necessary gear.
- What kind of benefits do our porters get?
In addition to the aforementioned equipment, all of our field personnel carry insurance that protects them and their families in case of accident or illness. We also encourage the use of government resources such as the SIS (Comprehensive Health Insurance) and we support our more than 120 porters to enter the banking world, helping them set up accounts and training them in how to use them.
In addition, whenever a porter has a problem of any kind and needs additional support, we are always willing to help not only as a company, but also by creating support campaigns between internal and external staff, thus leveraging more extensive support for those staff members with fewer resources.
Every year we organize several extracurricular events among the porters, such as football matches (which we sponsor 100%), a “Chocolatada” for the field staff, and delivery of Christmas baskets.
In addition, at the beginning of every year, we hold trainings for all of our porters, traveling to their communities, where they are taught the correct use of equipment, best environmental practices, and cultural awareness when dealing with diverse groups of people. We also help the communities form good waste management techniques.
In addition to the regular porter courses, we invite our field staff who want to grow within the company to participate in our chefs’ courses, where they are trained in the culinary arts and BPM techniques, in order to continue advancing in their careers.
- How much weight do our porters carry?
We strictly respect the weight limits established by law, allowing our male carriers to carry a maximum of 20 kg and our female carriers a maximum of 15 kg along the route.
- Do we include women porters?
Yes, we employ female porters because we believe that the benefits of this work must be available to all members of the community. However, we cannot employ a higher ratio of female porters to male porters, since their carrying capacity is 15kg, by law. Therefore, due to the limits that the National Sanctuary of Machu Picchu establishes with respect to porters and support personnel, it is impossible for us to operate treks with large groups with a majority of female porters.
- Are the porters’ traditions respected?
Yes, we work hand in hand with our porters and their communities. We have frequent conversations with community leaders in order to resolve any questions or problems that may arise, as well as to provide a forum where we may learn about the communities’ traditions and culture. As mentioned above, we jointly organize some activities such as the Chocolatada at the end of the year, during which we donate food and spend time with our porters in their communities. We also cover 100% of the costs for our annual football championship, and assist with other activities and community events.
- Do we have any tipping suggestions?
Tips are always appreciated among the staff and assistants that help our travelers during their journey. If travelers consider that the staff did an outstanding job while trekking with them, we suggest an average of between 70 – 130 dollars per traveler (depending on the group size and amount of field staff required), which will be divided among all of our field staff.
- Are the Porters integrated into the trekking experience?
Always! Our porters are encouraged to interact with travelers during the trip. In addition, during the last day of the trek, we allow them to offer their crafts for sale to travelers. At the end of their trek, travelers traditionally take a few moments to thank the porters for their hard work.