For many people, being able to seize the opportunity to hike the Inca Trail is a dream come true. And because this trek already is under pressure in your mind to be amazing due to its celebrity status, the last thing you want to do is mess up the planning. That is why choosing a trekking company is so important – this element is what can make or break your trip.
No problem – I will do it on my own!
Sorry to burst your bubble but you can’t. If you want to hike the traditional Inca Trail, Peruvian law requires that you be accompanied by at least a guide. However, most people would also like porters to carry the required gear, which includes tents and food for at least three days. If you’re one of those people, then finding a good trekking company is a must.
There are many many companies out there who would love to take you on the Inca Trail. But not all of them are worth your time and consideration. The company with whom my sister and I did a seven day combo trek of Salkantay Mountain and the Inca Trail was Alpaca Expeditions
. You’ll see along the way why we ultimately chose them. Here are some elements you should keep in mind as you’re making your own selection:
Is It Local?
I believe it is hugely important to choose a local company, or at the very least, a company that uses local guides and employees. I believe this is fundamental to responsible travel because you’re putting your money directly into the local economy and the hands of local people.
Alpaca Expeditions: 100% locally owned. Also, all their tour guides and porters are locals from Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
How Are the Guides and Porters Treated?
Look for a company that goes out of its way to provide more than just the basics to its employees. It was really sad to see some of the poorly equipped porters on the trail, when I was there. It was also important to consider how well trained the guides are – do they speak your language, are they trained in safety, will they be able to tell you about your surroundings, etc.
Alpaca Expeditions: Their guides all have tourism degrees from Cusco National University, they all speak English, and they’re all trained in first aid and safety. Porters (aka the Green Army) are given excellent trekking equipment/clothes for free, are provided health insurance, and are paid competitive wages. Also, while the government does allow each porter to carry up to 25kg, Alpaca’s porters only carry a maximum of 20kg each.