Ok, so for our hike of the Inca trail, we hire the red army and no, this is not a Japanese army.
To hike the Inca Trail you have to go with a guide company, so as to protect the trail and we are glad of having the company’s help for lots of reasons. We would never have been able to do this trek by ourselves. Most (if not all) tours provide a guide, and porters who carry the majority of the necessities as well as luxuries that seem to have become common place on the Inca Trail.
These things include tents, food, cooking gear, stools, tables, etc. You can also hire an extra half or full porter to help carry your personal items so that all you have to handle carrying is a day pack. We went ahead and booked the additional porter, as did everyone else in our group. It was the best decision we could have made.
The Porters are truly amazing men (sorry girls there were none of us). They haul 20 or so kilograms on their backs up the gigantic mountains that I could barely get myself up without any extra weight. I loved the way they all came out and clapped when I arrived last at camp. The Porters with our particular group ranged from 19 to 57 years old. They cleaned up and packed up the camp after we left in the morning…
Then they would literally run past us on trail to set up lunch, complete with table, chairs, table cloths, and warm water to wash up in.
Then they somehow get together a three course lunch and after we take off, do it all again in preparation for the evening, along with happy hour snacks such as a baked orange cake.
I give up guessing how on earth they cooked it at the camp site. And all this with a smile and encouraging words. Our porters and guide were always happy, having fun and attending to us all the way. They would fill our water bottles, pitch our tents, cook our amazing food, and fill and deliver our wash basins for us. There was always someone on ‘watch’ at camp if anyone needed anything.
It becomes very clear to us that one of the main differences amongst the various tour groups was how they treat their porters. We had decided to go with Llama Path on the recommendation we received from our South American travel company, Kuoda Travel.
The group, Llama Path, also had lots of recommendations online, many reporting about their efforts towards respectful and sustainable tourism. Our porters were obviously well cared for by their company. We did notice many porters from other companies that were ill equipped with poor footwear and packs consisting of tarpaulins tied up with string and bungee cords.
We also heard that Llama Path paid the porters a fairer wage than many other companies. That certainly seemed like something worth paying for. However, Llama Path actually appears to be no more expensive than the basic tours.
We are so glad we chose to take the trek with Llama Path and would highly recommend them to anyone contemplating trekking the Inca Trail.
The Inca Trail is a challenging but worthwhile trek, made or broken by the local guides.
Here’s a Gallery of the amazing food prepared by Llama Path – porters by day and chefs by night:
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