For many, seeing the archaeological phenomenon that is Machu Picchu is a lifelong aspiration. Accompanied by dedicated guides and porters, thousands of travelers make the journey up the Inca Trail. As the trekkers set out on the final leg towards the Sun Gate for their first glimpse upon ‘that’ iconic scene, their porters have already begun their descent to Aguas Calientes where they’ll prepare for the next trip.
Inca Trail porters work tirelessly to get trekkers up the Inca Trail safely and in comfort but a staggering number never get to see Machu Picchu, a paramount piece of their own Peruvian heritage, themselves. This past fall, Lonely Planet’s Bailey Freeman joined a group of Exodus’ porters on their very first visit to Machu Picchu. Exodus is proud to lead the way in balancing this industry-wide norm with the Porter Project – our initiative to give Peru’s porters the opportunity to explore Machu Picchu. We are the first tour operator to ever do this and we’re extremely excited to help our loyal team of 100 local porters to learn about Peru’s history and the Inca Empire, just like our customers do.
“I feel happy, proud of the company I work with. The locals, the porters, are as important as the client. I want to keep doing this project – everyone from Cuzco and the surrounding communities should be able to visit Machu Picchu,” says Santiago Gutierrez, leader of this particular group of porters hailing from the small mountain township of Poques. Though many had seen photos and videos of the UNESCO-site, this was their first chance to get up close and personal with the place they’ve helped so many travelers get to.
Porters are the beating heart of the Inca Trail, tackling this tough terrain with incredible agility and expertise, they work tirelessly so that by the time their trekking group arrives, a comfortable camp and a delicious home-cooked meal awaits them. To learn more about Exodus’ efforts and what it’s like to accompany a group of porters as they experience Machu Picchu for the first time, check out Lonely Planet’s article here.