Alpaca Expeditions owner, Raul Ccolque, is a native of the Cusco region, having grown up in a small village outside of the city. His introduction into tourism was as a porter – in Quechua, the native language of the Inca, they were called “chaskis”, as they ran from place to place with messages and goods along the thousands of kilometers of footpaths of the enormous Inca Empire. When you hike the Inca Trail with us, the porters are an integral part of your trip. Because pack animals are not allowed on most of the Inca Trail, someone has to carry all of the gear – everything from tents and sleeping bags to the cooking utensils and food which will be consumed by the group along the way. With generation upon generation of adaptation to the high-altitude climate, our chaskis/porters have developed an incredible capacity to do the work at our high altitude that you might find difficult. You will find on The Inca Trail that they will soar past you, carrying all your gear, and get the campsite set up for you before you even arrive. Our porters are imperative to keeping everything working smoothly.
Historically, due to their inability to speak Spanish (let alone English – remember, these people are descendants of the indigenous Inca), they have not received ideal treatment from companies who use their services along The Inca Trail. The have frequently been taken advantage of and mistreated as second-class citizens.
Alpaca Expeditions has been a leader in the movement to improve the quality of life for our porters. Not only do we make sure that they have proper shoes, clothes and other gear for their time while they are working with us, we have gone to the villages where they still eke out a living as subsistence farmers, coaxing potatoes out of the soil and herding alpacas and llamas. In the past, in various villages we have brought in teachers to educate their children, brought them school supplies and even computers to increase their opportunity to move into the 21st century, should they so desire.