Peru is a world-renowned travel destination and the Inca Trail is one of the most popular treks in South America. Interestingly, one of the most common questions asked by people hiking the Inca Trail is “Do I need to tip the guide and porters on the Inca Trail?” The simple answer is: Yes!
The following is a guide to help take the confusion away and assist you on when you need to tip and how much you should tip when on your hiking holiday in Peru.
Tipping in the tourist industry in Peru is customary and expected. At the end of any tour, your guide will be very direct in asking for a gratuity for his team. Tips are relied upon to assist with the trekking staff’s incomes and you should budget for them when planning for the costs of the trip. Tipping makes up for an important part of the staff’s income and although most companies ensure that the guides and porters used on treks receive a fair wage, they still appreciate, expect and deserve a tip.
On the Inca Trail, the porters wake up early to prepare morning coffee and serve breakfast, they set-up and take-down your tents and race ahead, setting up lunch and evening dining tents, all while carrying your camping gear. The chef works equally as hard, often doubling their role by acting as a porter during the day as well as cooking the meals throughout the day.
The Inca Trail guide may not carry equipment like the porters, but they organize the team, and go the extra step for days at a time, ensuring you have a rewarding and safe experience.
Depending on your group size, there will be 1 or 2 guides, 1 or 2 cooks and 10 – 20 porters. At your pre-trek briefing, you can ask your guide how many porters are on your trip and other questions regarding tipping procedures.
With most trekking companies there will be a tipping ceremony on the last evening of your trek. This is when you will have a chance to thank your porters, cooks and guides. Guiding Peru guests enjoy a celebratory lunch in Aguas Calientes, where it is suggested that you present your guides with their tip, prior to boarding your return train to Cusco.
All tips are provided as a group tip and not individually. Most trekking companies suggest strongly against tipping individual workers as it typically leads to problems within the team.
Normal group tip, not per person, for classic 4-day Inca Trail:
• Lead Guide 400 soles
• Assistant Guide(s)300 soles
• Chef 200 soles
• Assistant Chef(s)120 soles
• Porters 80 soles/porter
• Driver 120soles/day/drive
Based on service and size of the trekking team, each member of a group should prepare for a tip of ~$75USD-$100USD for the 4-day Inca Trail.
Tips are preferred in Peruvian Soles (the local currency) rather than US dollars or your own currency. Should you tip in currency other than Soles insure that the bills are not tattered and are in excellent condition or they may be refused by the staff’s bank.
In summary, you should ask yourself, and discuss with your group the following questions and then adjust the size of the tip accordingly:
• Was your trip exceptional?
• Did your guide work vigorously to insure your trip was a success?
• Was all staff skilled in their jobs?
• Was the guide knowledgeable of the region’s nature and culture?
• Did the chef’s meals exceed your expectations?
• Did the company have a strong service ethic?