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If you (or your travel company) are hiring porters to help with your holiday, you are responsible for them. You must consider their health and safety – it is as important as your own.

Porters who have trekking jobs don’t always live at high altitude all the time. They can suffer from altitude illnesses in the same way that visitors do. In the past ill porters were seen as ‘useless ’, ‘paid off’ and sent home. Many died going down alone.

The International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) have set clear standards which all parties should aim to achieve. These include the provision of:

  • Adequate clothing and footwear.
  • Adequate shelter, food and drink.
  • Medical care and life insurance.
  • Care on descent if ill.
  • Appropriate sized load to carry.

Questions to ask companies (or yourself)

1. Does the company you are thinking of trekking with follow IPPG's five guidelines on porter safety?
2. What is their policy on equipment and health care for porters?
3. What do they do to ensure the trekking staff are properly trained to look after porters' welfare?
4. What is their policy on training and monitoring porter care by its local ground operator?
5. Do they ask about treatment of porters in their post trek questionnaire to clients?

Kulbahadur, a 33 year old porter was left by the trail when he was too ill to carry his load in the Everest National Park. Later he was found unconscious by another trekking group, eventually losing his feet to frostbite. He never knew the name of the company or the nationality of the trekkers he was carrying a load for.

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