These men are the heart of our company. We go out of our way to treat them with respect providing fair wages and proper equipment. We care for their health and the health of their families. And we are committed to social projects to help enrich their lives. Most of our team started as porters, including our owner Raul, and we hope we can improve their lives since they drastically improve our company.
We couldn't get to Machu Picchu without them
Our "Green Machine" is integral for us to succeed on these adventures. The only way to make it to Machu Picchu is if we work as a team: guide, travellers and PORTERS and it is our job to make sure that each member of the team is treated properly and protected. Safety in the mountains is the top priority on every trek we take.
Every Porter at Alpaca Expeditions receives...
- Good and livable working wages.
- Health insurance and full coverage of any medical cost incurred on the trek.
- Proper uniforms including waterproof jackets and boots.
- Warm sleeping bags.
- Access to the same first aid our clients receive.
- A comfortable place to stay and sleep the night before and after their trek (at our Porters House).
- Really good and nutritious food...the same meals we prepare for our trekkers.
- Support of their family with visits by medical professionals, donations of supplies like boots and health needs and a trip to Machu Picchu. Often their first visit is with us as our guest.
PERSONAL PORTER INCLUDED
All of our treks include your porters who are responsible for carrying and setting up all equipment. They will also carry your personal duffel, which you will receive at your briefing the night before your trek. This duffel can not exceed 7kg/14lbs and must include your sleeping bag and air mat.
Each Alpaca Expeditions porter is given a proper uniform which includes wicking clothing, warm jacket and hiking boots. They each receive a proper salary and insurance. They are the backbone of our company and deserve a little more description.
Porters on the Inca Trail
Without a doubt, Inca Trail porters are the hardest workers on the mountain. They carry all the necessary equipment and logistics to hike and camp along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (tents, food, gear, etc). Without porters, climbing the Inca Trail would be close to impossible for most people. Your job is to hike, they do everything else. They will set up your tents, help cook and serve you amazing food, prepare hot water to wash with, and happily welcome you to each site...all with a smile on their face.
Why are Porters Mandatory?
Before 1990, the Inca Trail was not regulated by the Peruvian government and tourists would carry their own equipment, meals and cook by themselves. Unfortunately many of these early hikers didn't pay enough respect to Pachamama and left a lot of trash along the way. Without rangers watching, there was nobody there to walk behind them collecting the garbage they left. The government took note of this problem and initiated a project to protect the trail. It was at this time they began the permit process limiting the amount of people entering the trail to 500 per day for crew and tourists.
The government started making these changes in 1990 and continually it becomes more and more strict with how it allows people to enter the trail. You may only enter with a licensed tour company - it is not possible to do on your own. Each company can organize groups with a maximum of 16 trekkers, 2 guides and 22 porters. Each porter can carry a max of 25 kg.
The government has started the process of taking care of the porters - we hope to expand on that...
Alpaca Expeditions Inca Trail Porters:
Raul Ccolque Ccolque, the owner & general manager of Alpaca Expeditions, worked as porter from 2000 to 2003. While he saw some companies treating their porters better than others, he felt there was not enough being done for them and their families. We could not have a company without our porters and because of that we want them to be part of our family. We want to know them, listen to them and follow through on our promise to make their lives better.
Our porters range from 18 to 55 years old and come from several different villages in Cusco region. We employ approximately 250 porters from the following villages:
- Comunidad Wakatinku 25 porters, located at 3800 meters
- Comunidad Llullucha 20 porters, located at 3700 meters
- Comunidad Choquekancha 25 porters, located at 3400 meters.
- Comunidad Pumapunko 25 porters, located at 3700 meters
- Comunidad Kachin 25 porters, located at 3700 meters
- Comunidad Anparaes 25 porters, located at 3500 meters
Quechua is their main language and farming is their main economic activity. Being a porter is a second income for them.
Our Promise to Our Porters:
We understand clearly that we could not be successful without our team of porters. They have promised us that they will work endlessly to make each trekker have a magical journey. So, we have made an equally important promise to them to do what we can to make this difficult job a little less daunting.
As we explained earlier, most of our porters live in a village outside of Cusco - typically 2 to 4 hours away. We cover all entrance fees (45 soles - $15 US per porter) and transportation to and from the trek for our porters, separate from their salary. They are paid directly after the trek allowing them to head home without having to travel back to Cusco. Unfortunately, this is not common. They receive better wages, health insurance and all their equipment for free. This includes hiking boots, pants, jerseys, fleeces, jackets, hats, flashlights, sleeping bags and amazing food to eat. We make sure they have a comfortable bed in a lovely room to sleep before (and after if needed) the trek instead of crashing on a floor like others. We visit the communities they live in and supply toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and other needed supplies to their families. We also provide books for their students.
This is just the beginning for us and we are always looking for ways to do more.
How Much Does the Alpaca Expeditions Porter Carry?
While the government allows each porter to carry up to 25kg, we keep our limit at 20kg. Each porter will carry up to 15kg from the company and 5kg of their own personal stuff. This is why its so important to keep your personal duffel down in weight and not exceed our allowed 7kg. You will see other companies carrying clearly more than the allotted weight - we will not allow our porters to carry this burden.
Keeping Them Comfortable...
Every year Alpaca Expeditions provides a new sleeping bag and sleeping pad for each porter. They also receive warm, lined jackets and waterproof boots.
What do the Porters Eat?
Our porters will eat the very same amazing meals that you will. Our chef buys enough food to cook for all our trekkers and porters and makes enough for everyone to be full at the end of the day. While you will notice that we always serve huge portions, none of this is wasted. Whatever food is leftover, after you and our team eats, will go directly back home to the families of the team for them to enjoy themselves.
Helping Their Families...
All our porters are quechua language speakers who come from farming villages. They take advantage of the growing seasons to cultivate their crops. Alpaca Expeditions will help them in many ways to keep growing their community, especially in education, health and culture. We have different ongoing projects and hope to add many more. Some of the projects we have completed or continue doing are:
Every 3 months, we take a toiletry kits to Wakantinku elementary school for 204 quechua speaking children. They range in age from 3 – 12 years old, from kindergarten to 6th grade. When we first arrived to this village a few years ago, kids had trouble keeping up with daily hygiene. We make sure they always have toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and hand sanitizer.
We planted more than 3,000 native trees, Queuña (andean polylepis), in the community of Wakatinku to reforest their village. This tree will be more sustainable than others they have used in the past. Eventually it will be a fertilizer for their village to help grow more grass for their Alpacas. The alpacas are the most common animals located in this village. In 2015 we covered the salary of a full time teacher in the High School of Wakatinku to teach math, art and English. This teacher has done amazing work and helped graduate the first class from the village. We plan to continue this sponsorship and supply another year's salary.
Every February we invite our porters and their families to come with us to visit Machu Picchu. For many this was their first time to the ruins and a really special experience for us. Last year we went with families from Wakawasi village, a community we visit on the Lares Trek. We plan on doing this trip every February with new families to help them enjoy their own history.
In October 2015, we helped celebrate the end of the school year with 17 students and their parents with a trip through the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. This 2 day trip followed the same itinerary that our clients enjoy.
Often our clients have asked how they can help. Some Alpaca Expeditions trekkers raised money back at home to buy computers to donate to a local village. We matched their donation and went together to donate 4 computers to the school in Wakatinku village for the kids to enjoy. This was their first experience on computers and something that has been really successful. Of course its hard for 204 students to share 4 computers, so we hope to bring some more in the future.
To help celebrate the anniversary of Llulucha village this last July, we booked and provided transpiration for an amazing local band, Alicia de Acomayo, to play. It was a great party for everyone to enjoy.
We are working with a local clinic in Cusco to provide dental care and skin examinations for the children in each of our porters' villages.
We recently bought land in Cusco where we will construct dormitories, classrooms and teaching kitchens for our team. This is for those who do not live in Cusco so they have a nice, warm place to sleep before their treks. We will have English classes, computer classes and cooking classes here for any member of our team and their family to use, free of charge. This is a huge project for us that we are really excited about.
This is a brief look at the projects we have done and continue to do. We are a small local company here in Cusco who promises to be as dedicated to our team as they are to us. We are lucky enough to have the best porters in the region and we feel responsible to make sure they are healthy, strong and capable of providing their families with the best life possible.
The Journey is the Destination
Monday through Saturday 9AM - 1PM & 3PM - 7:30PM
Sunday 4:30PM - 7:30PM
SALES TEAM HOURS
Monday through Friday 9:00AM - 1:00PM & 3:00PM - 7:30PM
Saturday 8:30AM - 1PM
**All Bookings done during weekends will be confirmed Monday morning.**
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