Porter care during Nepal Treks: How can you (as a trekker) support it?
“Jumping from boulder to boulder and never falling, with a heavy pack, is easier than it sounds; you just can’t fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance.”
― Jack Kerouac
Trekking isn’t as easier as mentioned by Mr. Kerouac in Nepal. Imagine yourself climbing up and down on hills and rough terrains and sometimes on altitude with thin air, snowy landscape and slippery trail with loads on your back and occasionally facing different weather. You can’t just get into the rhythm of the dance unless your heavy load is shared by the super humans of the mountains and Himalayas, the porters. Porters are there to make the experience of trekkers a beautiful and adventurous one without having to carry your entire load. So as a responsible trekker don’t you think you have to take care of the porters during your visit to Nepal?
Porters are at the front line when you are trekking in the hills of Nepal. Whether you trek solo or you be a part of a trekking team porters are there if you have heavy loads, which is almost always the case. However, many trekking companies and tour operators give less value to the porters. They compromise on the clothing, gears, salaries and insurance, and respect given to these strongmen. So can you do something on your part for proper care of the porters? Let’s explore the ways you can help the porters.
How can you support care of porters while you are set for trekking in Nepal?
There are few things that you, as a trekker, can do to ensure that porters get proper care, support and respect during the trek that you are set to go for. They are listed as follows.
• The first thing you can do is to choose the trekking or tour companies that give utmost care and respect to the porters who are part of the trekking trips. Enquire with other trekkers and check on the travel forums in this regard. Ask the trekking companies about their policies regarding the guides and porters. Make sure they give porters the same treatment as they would give to the other team members of trekking expedition.
• Ask trekking company about the weight that has to be assigned to the porters to carry and make sure that the weight goes as per the guidelines set by International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
• Choose the trekking company which offers ethical trekking agreements or the organizations which offer ethical trekking agreements which the trekking companies can sign up for. For example, IMEC in USA is one such organization.
• If you see that porters are being mistreated at any point of time during the trek complain loud and long on the spot and also complain to your travel company once you are back from trekking.
• Ask on some of these issues to the trekking companies before you begin your trek:
a. Guidelines on porter safety
b. Policy on health care and equipment availability to the porters
c. Training for ground operators for monitoring porter care
d. Payment to the porters, their insurance coverage and cost of rescue and treatment
e. Tip the porters generously during and after the trek as per your wish if you think they have provided good service to you.
Every support counts!
Many times you may realize that porters are somehow discriminated on various grounds, face difficulties on accommodation, compensation, weight assigned for carriage and many others. Pressurize the trekking and tour companies on adopting the IPPG guidelines and treating porters with deserving respect and care. You are a revenue generating client to a trekking company and they heed to your complaint. Money counts you know.
So every trekker must do their bit to make sure that the porters who make things better for you. From your part, treat trekkers with respect. Pack light and treat well, interact with them and try to understand them. Your trip will get a lot better, entertaining, comfortable and enriched. Treat porters well and have a happy trekking.