We've all heard the stories of porters left on the mountainside or freezing outside tents while travelers revel inside. But how can you as a traveler know that the company you travel with really is treating their porters fairly?
Beyond all the marketing hullabaloo, here are some tips from a former porter turned tour operator, Prem Khatry of Ace the Himalaya:
Make sure your porters are insured well and covered for medical and rescue evacuation services.
Be very sensitive about the weight limit for the porter i.e. 30kg/porter maximum. Average weight limit should be 25kg/porter. Many of the national and international companies force porters to carry more than 50 kg each.
Make sure your porters are treated in a very friendly and hospitable manner. Make sure leaders never treat them as merely porters but also as good friends. Make sure your guide pays attention to the good health, food and sleep of every porter on the trip.
Make sure your porters are educated on the environmental impact of your trip. They must have the first hand knowledge of waste management and know the role they play in making the trip as environmentally responsible as possible.
Make sure they are equipped with warm clothes, good shoes and all the necessary equipment for high altitude trekking. They must be provided adequate shelter, food, drink and wages.
Most of the young porters are future guides and also part time students. Leaders must help and inspire the porters to grow as potential guides, all our trekking guides and myself started as a porter.
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