Let’s clear the air, and say that in general, tipping in Cusco, specially in Peru is a respectable practice and strongly encouraged among travelers. Specifically, you should tip at sit down restaurants and bars, porters in hotels and airports, Porters on the Inca Trail, tour guide staff and drivers. And of course, if you receive exceptional service it is acceptable to give a little extra.
*The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is one of the world’s most incredible treks, one which 150 keen hikers and 350 hard working Inca Trail porters embark on daily.
**The four or 5 day hike over 28 miles/44 kilometres is a high altitude walk past Inca ruins, soaring Andean peaks, and breathtaking views while walking on original stone Inca trails.
***For many, the Inca Trail is a bucket list dream. For others, like the Inca Trail porters, it is a valuable source of work and income and an integral part of their history and culture.
How Much to Tip on the Inca Trail?
To give you an idea of how much cash you should carry for tips and how much you should give to various trail support staff, we will have a look at the advice given by some of our recommended Inca Trail tour operators. These recommendations are for the classic 4-day/3-night Inca Trail; prices are listed in Peruvian nuevos soles, in general, it’s best to tip trekking staff using low denomination nuevo sol bills.
- SAM Travel Peru recommends that each person in the group contributes between 120 and 200 nuevos soles (US$40 to $60) to a “pot.” It is then distributed among the cook, assistant cook, general assistant, and porters. Also, a further 15 to 20 soles ($5.80 to $7.70) from each person in the group for the assistant guide and 18 to 28 soles ($7 to $10.80) for the principal guide.
- Spider Travel Peru recommends between 60 and 70 soles per porter from the whole group. The group will be of 120 to 160 soles for each cook from the group; 200 to 250 soles from the group for the guide.
- Orange Nation recommends that each porter should walk away with 80 soles each for a small group. It’s for (1 to 5 trekkers) and 80 soles each for a larger group (6 to 16 trekkers). Also a minimum of 100 soles for the guide. The distribution is 100 soles for each cook, and 90 soles for each assistant cook (given collectively by the tour group).
And a couple more recommendations:
- Sam Corporations: “A good rule of thumb is anywhere from $10 to $15 per day for the porters” (35 to 45 nuevos soles).
- Inca Trail Hike (an independent website, not a tour agency) recommends taking an extra US$60 to $90 per person to cover tips, with additional personal porters tipped separately.
Always remember that tips are not mandatory. The tipping ranges above are suggestions only and assume that the service given was of a good standard. If your food was terrible, for example, you should not feel obliged to tip the cook. At the same time, resist the urge to over tip.
If you feel you might want to go beyond a standard tip, keep in mind that many porters would be grateful for additional donations such as clothing or school equipment for their kids.
Inca Trail Porters and Responsible Trekking
The Inca Trail is a bucket list hike and one of Peru’s travel highlights. With its orchids, condors, cloud forest, and snow-capped peaks, this beautiful trail is open to all with training and determination.
SAM Corpotations want people to enjoy the Inca Trail, safe in the knowledge that the porters are respected and rewarded for their hard work and efforts. We hope that by understanding their role, language, and tipping, you can thoroughly enjoy your experience and leave nothing but a positive and responsible footprint.
We’re happy to help fulfil your Inca Trail dream. Contact us for more here!
Tipping Peruvian Tour Guides
Tourism is one of Peru’s most important industries, and individuals will spend time at university studying foreign languages (such as English), tourism studies, and specialist skills (such as Peruvian history and the Inca Empire, or Amazon wildlife) in order to become a tour guide. Most Peruvian tour guides are passionate about their country, work hard to ensure people have an unforgettable vacation, and are both deserving and grateful for any tips received. Tipping guides is not mandatory, so never feel obligated to tip; yet, tipping guides is highly widespread in Peru, and some guides, whether correct or not, do expect money to supplement their income.
***You should only consider tipping your guide if they did an excellent job, which includes speaking good English and being easy to understand, being polite and engaging, being passionate and knowledgeable about their subject, and being amusing.
Who Are the Inca Trail Porters?
Inca Trail porters come from the Cusco and Sacred Valley areas surrounding the Inca Trail. For many years, they were poorly paid and often exploited by companies looking to keep wages and trek prices low for visiting trekkers. They carried hefty loads for minimal wages and sometimes terrible working conditions.
By the turn of the millennium, the porters forced the Peru government into offering them working protection after years of poor treatment. Thankfully, times have changed, but there is still work to do.
The porters make everyone’s Inca Trail as comfortable as possible. Without them, most people would not be able to attempt the trek. There is no fundamental infrastructure along the trail, and groups need to be self sufficient and carry everything they need.
Porters carry hikers’ personal and communal kit. They are often the first to rise, helping boil water for early morning hot drinks and the last to leave camp after packing away all the gear. Working days can be as long as 16 hours.
What Do the Inca Trail Porters Carry usually?
Inca Trail porters carry everything from tents to food and medical supplies. They also heft people’s belongings, usually sleeping bags, a Thermarest, clothes, and personal items, and help set up and break camp daily.
All rubbish is packed up and brought out on porter’s backs. The porter carrying the toilet tent deserves a special tip. Theirs is the only burden that gets heavier as the trek progresses!
How Much Weight Do Inca Trail Porters Carry?
Inca Trail porters carry a maximum of 20kg weight with 5kg for their personal belongings (males), and a maximum of 15kg for female porters.
There are various checkpoints along the Inca Trail, including at the start, to ensure limits are obeyed. Some companies try to get porters to use the 5kg personal allowance for the group’s kit, we would never implement this.
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