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Machu Picchu, Peru

The Inca Trail Porter Project

Bringing Peru’s Porters to Machu Picchu

The architectural phenomenon that is Machu Picchu attracts a staggering number of tourists from all over the world every single day. Keen trekkers and day-trippers alike flock in their thousands to witness the breathtaking views at the Sun Gate in all its glory.   

Porters are the life and soul of the Inca Trail. They are the local folks employed to ensure trekkers’ luggage make it to camp everyday throughout the four-day trek. They tackle gruelling altitudes of above 4000m, treacherous conditions, and a notoriously demanding trail, all the while carrying up to 20kg of luggage on their backs. Without them, most trekkers would simply not complete the renowned trail. As trekkers embark on their final leg of the trek towards the iconic site, ordinarily, porters have already begun their descent to Aguas Calientes, where they will prepare for their next trip up the mountain. This – and the cost of entry – has sadly prohibited most Inca Trail Porters from ever visiting Machu Picchu despite its centrality to local heritage and Peruvian culture.  

In 2017, Exodus took its first steps in balancing this industry-wide norm. In the film Carried Away: Inca Trail Porter Project we bore witness to the moment that Exodus porters viewed Machu Picchu with their own eyes for the very first time accompanied by a Quechuan-speaking guide. At that moment, we made a vow to ensure that all Exodus porters have an opportunity to relish in the cultural heritage and wonder right on their doorsteps, and so, The Inca Trail Porter Project was born. 

Our passion for giving back to those who work so relentlessly to ensure our travellers have a once-in-a-lifetime trek is burning brighter than ever. In 2019, we were proud to confirm that all164 of our Inca Trail porters had visited Machu Picchu, and we have pledged to ensure any new porters who work for us will be given the same opportunity. Subseuqently, we’ve been delighted to see fellow tour operators follow suit and adopt the same policy for their Inca Trail porters.

For a truly inspiring account of the resilience, spirit, and good humour of our Inca Trail Porters please take the time to watch Carried Away, particularly if you’re preparing for your own trek across the trail; nothing will be quite as motivating.