May 14, 2010, Newsletter Issue #30: Carry Each Other

Tip of the Week

While trekking through wild mountains may be a low-emission adventure, it can have a high impact on human culture. If you’re trekking in the Himalayas, Peru or Kilimanjaro, porters will be available to carry your luggage and equipment.

The romanticized view of porters is that they come from tough mountain stock. The reality is that they are often poor farmers from the lower valleys who are not only unaccustomed to the altitude but who are also exploited by tour operators. They are not always provided with adequate equipment, wages, insurance or medical care. Porters are sometimes left behind in blizzards while tourists are carried to safety first.

Should we stop employing trekkers? According to the International Porter Protection Group, this source of income can help porters rise above subsistence farming. A better alternative may be to question your tour provider and to spread the word about the porters' plight in order to ensure that others travel responsibly.

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