Daily rates for a porter?
Replies: 19 - Last Post: Feb 21, 2013 4:55 PM Last Post By: johnney
Feb 15, 2013 12:55 PM
Daily rates for a porter?The Rough Guide (July 2012 edition) says "A typical wage for a porter is about 7000 Rs a day." The book doesn't make clear whether this rate includes accommodations and meals.
The guide I'm planning on trekking with (to be hired independently, no agency involved) says he would select a fully outfitted porter from his home village, at a cost of $15 a day, which comes to a few rupees under 1,300. I would not be responsible for the porter's accommodation and meal expenses.
This will be for the Gosaikund-Helambu trek, with a maximum elevation of about 4,600 meters, at the Laurebina Pass.
I'm not looking to underpay or overpay, just trying to find out what would be fair and reasonable.
Thanks for any information or suggestions.
Feb 15, 2013 1:37 PM
Feb 15, 2013 3:23 PM
Feb 15, 2013 9:36 PM
3first of all if you are trekking on your own - hiring a guide AND a porter is a little overkill. hire someone who can act both as a guide and a porter. but keep in mind that the ones who can act as a guide (with some english skills) tend not to carry the full load as a porter does. so when I hire these guide/porter dudes what i do is carry my own pack and give him some of my excess load. since the guides and porters do no tend to carry much for themselves we both end up carrying about the same weight - about 15 kg each (with the guide/porter carrying 5-8 extra kg of my stuff).
and what i do is pay them about $15/day (that’s about the going rate) and add a tip of about $5 day in the end if their service is good. I, however, usually pay for their meals if the lodge charges for their meals. what i mean by that is - some lodges (usually at lower altitude) provide them with free meals and board for them bringing (you) the client. but in higher altitude where the meals and space become more scarce they do charge guides and porters for the meals which could easily be Rs 300-500 if you consider two meals. someone making $15/day and having to pay $5-8 just on meals does not sit right with me....but then that's just me. Otherwise they end up making not even $10/day net.
by the way daily labor rate in KTM these days is $8-9/day I heard.
hope this info helps.
Feb 16, 2013 1:12 AM
Feb 16, 2013 2:09 AM
5Porters and guides get their food at local prices when they pay it themselves, which are 50-70% less than the tourist price. Along AC they (used to) get their food for free. It the trekker pays the porter food he is naturally charged the full tourist price, usually the guide/porter splits the difference with the lodge owner, laughing behind your back. It is much wiser just to pay fair salary (market & demand) or if you are feeling bad and guilty for being a rich sahib, just pay higher salary to begin with, no more bouts of bad conscience at every mealtime, and do not meddle with the local economy more than that.
Feb 16, 2013 9:45 AM
Feb 16, 2013 1:09 PM
7Thanks so much for all of the above. Concerning #6 -- I in fact did email the guide asking if the porter's insurance is covered, and am waiting for a reply. It would seem that even if I ask the porter what he receives, and even if this results in a "resolution" that would be more in his favor, since will have been chosen by the guide and comes from the same village, what I end up being told might not have much connection to what they arrange between them.
After seeing #2, in which Jep reports that $13 is the standard price for a guide in 2013, I was more or less prepared to pay the $15 and write off the remaining $2 a day, so long as the insurance is covered.
A more interesting and revealing question (for me, at least) is whether it would seem as unethical or unfair to most Nepalis as it does to many of us on this thread for an independently hired guide to keep for himself a portion of what he says is the porter's salary.
Or, more broadly, how, if at all, offended would most Nepalis be find it they see that a local person is trying to squeeze extra money out of them by providing misinformation and the like? To what extent would this be dismissed as an acceptable business tactic, or resented as an attempted fraud?
Feb 16, 2013 5:13 PM
Feb 16, 2013 7:19 PM
9#8, Thanks for this. I suppose it would be an interesting dissertation project in cultural linguistics for someone to do a study of many different and unrelated languages to see in each instance if there's a word or phrase for what we think of as "fraud," and then examine whether this correlates attitudes regarding "fraud."
Regarding the last question in #7, would most people in Nepal shrug off what we would think of as attempted fraud, the way we shrug off overpricing in a store by moving on and perhaps not returning to the store, or if most Nepalis view fraud as more offensive than this.
Feb 17, 2013 12:51 AM
10If the guide is asking $15 for a porter and giving the porter $10, the porter is actually getting a fairly good deal compared to my dear wife. She works as an IT consultant for a consulting company, and is getting Z euros per hour. The said consulting company is charging more than 2xZ from the client, but the problems is she can not get a straight contract as a one person consulting company (which we have) with the public sector client, and has to work for a larger CC to get this position. Is this a rip-off or a fraud? This situation is similar to many porters in Nepal, but I see no outrage about her situation here in the West.
In Nepal trekking portering and guiding is a business, if somebody arranges services he is entitled to a service charge = some profit. Trekking agencies all do this, a private guide might or might not do it. Starting to ask questions about their arrangements might not be wise, it really is not much our's business how the money flows between them. They ask for a certain amount of money and we either accept or not. This might sound harsh, but this is the way I see it.
Feb 18, 2013 10:49 AM
Your point is well taken. But while all of us take for granted that agencies offering porters or any other type of help will take a significant cut for themselves, we wouldn't expect this to occur when we hire someone independently.
For instance, home healthcare agencies here in the US pay aides they dispatch to patients' homes minimum wage or less, while the patient or family pays several times that. But if a doctor or acquaintance recommends a particular worker, we'd find it quite fraudulent and offensive if they retained a portion of what we end up paying.
Are you saying the distinction between these circumstances is insignificant to most people in Nepal? My interest here is in understanding how Nepalis view this type of situation, rather than in making any judgments. I'll reserve these for health care agencies and the like here in the US.
Feb 18, 2013 6:33 PM
Feb 18, 2013 10:57 PM
13Like I said the independent guide might or might not take a cut form the porters salary. If he is thinking like a businessman starting an agency, he will. If he is asking his brother or cousin to carry, then he is not. I would say the attitudes are changing, just think about the helicopter rescue business where the person making the rescue call (usually the guide) is getting a 10-15% kickback from the aviation company. Getting an easy thousand bucks by deliberately causing your client to get AMS has proven to be too tempting to some guides. Squeezing a few dollars a day from a poorer villager is peanuts compared to this and would not disturb the conscience much.
Like I said, we usually do not interrogate the resort owner in the Caribbean, Mediterranean or Thailand about how our money is distributed among the workers and how much he is stealing from the top. Why would we do it in Nepal, because we feel patronizing?
Feb 18, 2013 11:31 PM
14Thanks for the two most recent, insightful replies. These help give me a better idea of what is considered ethically acceptable by Nepalis in the types of circumstances under discussion.
Concerning the last paragraph in #13, the difference in question for me, and perhaps for Scoody although I obviously can't speak for him, is in the scale and nature of a private arrangement with an individual, and doing business with an agency or company.
That said, I appreciate very much learning, as I have on this thread, how the practices in question are viewed in Nepal.
With regard to #12 above;
Real rates for porters are half that proposed for tourists and they carry twice as much.
Not that there's anything any of us can do about it, but doesn't a situation such as this degrade the value of and respect for work within the local, non-tourist economies?
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