With hundreds of tour agencies and operators located in Cusco, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. Most offer the same tour options at relatively similar prices. Some are owned by expats and some, like Southern Peru Explorers, are 100% locally owned and operated. With so many companies to choose from, make a socially responsible and informed choice by learning more about how SPE invests in the local community. Make sure you feel good about who you book your tour with.
The guys who work tirelessly carrying your personal belongings are often shortchanged by their employers, and not given fair and responsible treatment as employees. The government says that porters can carry a maximum of 20 kilos, but this is actually a lot especially at high altitudes. Southern Peru Explorers gives porters a maximum that is much less, prioritizing the health, safety, and comfort of staff.
Porters are paid a much higher amount than the national minimum wage, and are given a salary on average 50% higher than many tour operators in Cusco. Southern Peru Explorers also guarantees that porters have nice accommodations and are well fed while on the job.Still, it is important to tip your porter.
They have a very difficult job and deserve gratuity for their tireless work. 15-20% of the cost of the services is generally a good rule of thumb. Tell everyone in your group to bring $25-30 for tipping of porters, cooks, and guides. There are all sorts of suggestions online of how much to tip, but generally if each person in your group brings around $30 (100 soles) you should be able to distribute a good tip to everyone who served you. Don’t forget to tip your personal porter as well!
The guys at Southern Peru Explorers understand that they have a role to play in the local community. This is rare for tour operators in Cusco, who usually don’t see beyond the immediate contributions they make to the tourism market. Not stopping at giving hardworking locals fair and competitive job conditions and wages, Southern Peru Explorers engages in charitable giving all year long.
When you book a tour with Southern Peru Explorers, you invest in Peru and the people working hard to give back in a responsible and worthwhile way. Make sure that while you are spending your hard earned money on an incredible experience and immersion into the culture and history in Peru, that you are also investing in its future. It is vital for the future of Peru that disadvantaged communities in all corners of the country, not just the ones closeby or popular, receive the support they need.
The truth is, there are many disadvantaged communities outside of Cusco where the tourism boom hasn’t quite made it. Lares is one example of such a community, which is a poorer region located a bit too far from Cusco to attract many volunteers or tourists. With book and toy drives for indigenous children, Southern Peru Explorers supports these kids and shows dedication to their education and growth. Additionally, every year around Christmas, the kids in communities like Lares are invited for a party with gifts given to the children.
It is incredibly important if you are planning to hike the Inca Trail that you understand all of the rules and regulations (read them here). While you are embarking on any journey around Peru and its gorgeous flora and fauna, you need to respect Pachamama (mother nature) and make sure you choose a tour operator who does as well. Only book tours with licensed professionals who follow all of the national rules and guidelines for protecting Pachamama.