Porters of the Annapurna Circuit

January 5, 2010 14 Comments »

Porters in Nepal don’t use any fancy equipment to carry their large loads. You see them wearing hand-me-down clothing and shoes from trekkers past. Flipflops and shoes that don’t fit; but it doesn’t matter because everything is appreciated here. I bet Converse never designed their canvas sneakers to trek to 17,000 ft. in the Himalayas, but they should know that they are being utilized to do so!

In fact, the simplicity of the porter’s gear is what amazes me; if you give them a backpack to carry, 99% of them wouldn’t even consider wearing it on their shoulders. All of this high-tech gear meant to protect us from back and shoulder pain is instead introduced to low-tech solutions – a basket and some rope. This is hard for those of us in the Western world to understand, but the traditions are strong in Nepal; and so are these porters.

Men and women (and sometimes teenagers) do this thankless task of transporting unimaginable things up and down mountains, on narrow trails, and through streams. There are no/few regulations and their salaries are minimal. They carry items the traditional Nepalese way, using their forehead and neck muscles, hunched over to put the weight on their back. They rest on the boulder ‘benches’ along the trail which are set up at just the right height to gently ease the load off their forehead without bending over.

As most people were busy taking photos of the scenery, I spent a few days just concentrating on the culture of the porters and taking pictures of them. They seemed surprised that I would come up to them and ask to take their picture while simply standing there, but they loved it. They often get attention as they walk by, but few stop to spend time with them.

These photos show their burden.

To see these photos all at once, simply click on the image and it will take you to my photography site.

Or view this link Porters’ Documentary

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