Are There Llamas on the Inca Trail?
On the second day of the hike, we crossed over Dead Woman’s Pass at almost 14,000 feet. At such high altitude, I was relieved that I only had to carry my daypack with water and snacks. Our group had 11 porters who carried our backpacks, food, and tents.
Since we were hiking in Peru, you might wonder why llamas were not drafted to carry our supplies. Surprisingly, llamas, with the exception of the wild ones, are not permitted on the Inca Trail. (We were fortunate to encounter a group of wild llamas on our first day. Other than that, we only saw llamas grazing lazily in the distance.)
I am not entirely sure why pack llamas are prohibited from the Inca Trail. Horses and mules are prohibited, too. But, this makes sense. Their hooves would surely tear up the original rocks that the Incas used to pave much of the trail. Llamas, in contrast, have soft feet. So, trail destruction wouldn’t seem to be an issue.
Perhaps pack llamas are not allowed on the Inca Trail because of the trail’s popularity and its condition. The trail is fairly narrow with unrelenting steep drops in places. I could definitely see the potential for accidents if llamas were to mingle with backpackers. It was daunting enough to have the porters run by at top speed as backpackers scrambled to get out of their way.