You’ve likely heard of or seen mules, horses, camels, and other sturdy animals accompanying hikers and travelers during their treks into the wilderness. But, have you ever seen a Llama walking with them while on a hike? Well, you’re in for a treat!! The activity goes by many names: Llama hiking, Llama trekking, and llama caravanning; but they all refer to our good-natured llama friends joining in on our adventures.
Llama Trekking for Eco-Tourism
Llama trekking is fast becoming a favorite activity among eco-tourists (those who love to visit exotic natural environments) because it is returning to a more natural form of travel assistance for carrying supplies. Throughout the ages, several cultures have utilized llamas for long travels due to their padded-feet. This gives llamas a unique advantage over hooved animals on steep, rocky paths. Horse and mule hooves can tear up the ground as they walk, disturbing the natural environment. Additionally, they have wider bodies that can disturb plant foliage which is not true for llamas.
Llamas are Better Suited for Your Journey
Think of llamas as an extension of your backpack. They are strong like the more common pack animals, and they can carry up to 25% of their weight with no added stress. This means that packing for a longer trip will be no problem for the animals, and helps their human companions immensely. They have actually been bred throughout the thousands of years humans have used them to serve this specific purpose.
They are gentle giants that can grow to be as tall as six feet! They weigh anywhere from 250 to 400 lbs, so a 300 lb llama can comfortably carry 75 lbs of supplies for about 10 miles. If you get a little overzealous in packing, the llama will lie down, and refuse to move until you lighten the burden. Their poop has no odor, so you won’t experience any unpleasant smells on your trek, or if you accidentally step in a “llama bean.”
Another wonderful thing about llama trekking is they have excellent endurance and their stomachs are specially evolved to handle poor quality food, meaning they are very versatile and low-maintenance. But, perhaps the best thing about going on a hike with a llama is they have a naturally gentle nature. The term “stubborn as a mule” exists for a reason! Mules and horses can be headstrong, and that can lead to problems while hiking, perhaps even leading to dangerous scenarios.
Llamas are smart, remain alert, sociable and very curious. By taking them on your adventures, you’re actually doing them a big service! They love to explore, nibbling on grass during rests, and get excited like a dog when you start moving again to explore some more. So, it is a win-win for both humans and llamas.
Hiking with Llamas for Families with Children
Due to their gentle nature, llama trekking is becoming an increasingly popular activity for families with children. They are calm and friendly, which means they rarely become overly-excited around a group of giggling little ones. Touching their wooly topcoats is also a different sensory experience that leads to a very calming environment. Llamas don’t bite, either. They may spit when they are upset, but that is usually at each other.
Where do I get started?
Whether you are looking to experience this magical adventure for just a few hours, or days, there are several local companies that offer llama hikes throughout the region. We recommend Antero Llamas, located right in Salida! With the Sawatch Mt. Range to the Northwest, and the Sangre de Cristo Mt. Range to the South, they offer some of the best outdoor adventures in the state.
For newbies they offer a Llama Packing 101 workshop which will teach you all the basic skills you need to handle llamas on your own in the backcountry. This course is scheduled several times per season, or upon request. Training is provided at the llama farm in Salida, or other locations may be arranged before a trip.
Llama Trekking as a Unique Experience
Llama caravanning is suitable for all ages! Families, couples, and everyone in between are thrilled with this unique, uplifting, and unforgettable experience. The journey will give you hands-on experience that, until now, wasn’t easily accessible without flying around the world to a remote village in the Andes. Of course, experiencing this rewarding journey is better if it can be done closer to home, for many reasons.
If you’re currently planning an event, such as a wedding, corporate retreat or family reunion, why not treat your employees or closest friends and family to an amazing experience? Imagine trekking through the awe-inspiring natural wonder that is the Arkansas Valley, with a wonderful furry friend helping you along.
Creekside Chalets believes wholeheartedly in responsible stewardship of the land we all call home. Our commitment to eco-friendly tourism reflects in our careful consideration of planning llama treks but goes far beyond to extend into everything we do. To book a reservation, contact us today!