In just a few days, a group of trekkers, guides, and porters are going to make history in the Peruvian Andes as the first all-women trekking team to tackle Machu Picchu.
The historic trip, scheduled for March 30, comes only a few years after Evolution Treks Peru became the first tour company to hire female porters at all in 2017. A majority of the women who now work the Machu Picchu circuit are Quechua women who are indigenous to the Andes and live in pueblos where the Inca Trail traverses. This trip will employ roughly 10 porters and two guides, all of whom will receive the same wages as their male counterparts: a little less than $20 a day, not including tips, which is roughly double what women typically earn in Peru.
According to Sara Qquehuarucho Zamalloa, one of the two women to become the first female porters on the Inca Trail, both of whom will now join this trek as professional guides, “It’s not just about being a porter. It’s about empowerment. If can do the Inca Trail, I can do anything,” Zamalloa is reported as saying by Lonely Planet. Her fellow history-making porter turned history-making guide, Lucia Merclajuly Vela Sosa, agreed, saying, “I’m excited because a pure women’s group means things are changing. We are proving we can do it without men.”
Due recent government restrictions, Zamalloa, Sosa, and company will not actually be hiking the iconic, four-day Inca Trail. Instead, they’ll take the Inca Trail to the Salkantay Trail and complete the trek in five days. And if Evolution Treks Peru has its way, this will be the first of many all-women Machu Picchu treks. Co-founder Miguel Angel Góngora Meza said, “We hope to do this every two weeks in 2021. And every week or more in 2022.”
Trekking to Machu Picchu is a feat for anyone. Accessing the sacred Inca citadel as part of the first-ever all-women trekking group is extra meaningful, not only to help shatter stereotypes but also to empower women, both financially and socially in the case of local porters and guides. So before they set out on the life-changing trek, we have just one message: Happy trails!