Can You Ride a Llama?
February 25, 2014|Posted in: Llama Trekking
Trekking with llamas is becoming more and more popular. Just Google “llama treks” and you’ll find llama outfitters in Colorado, Wyoming, and even the San Francisco Bay area offering a variety of treks. Of course Peru is the home of the original llama trekkers—the Incas.
Back in the day, the Incas used llamas as pack animals as they trekked through the Andes. Their ancestors are still doing the same today.
People always want to know if they can ride a llama. I’ve heard that some llamas have been trained to carry small children. However, for older children and adults, riding a llama would be akin to riding a goat—not really possible. Nonetheless I enjoy trekking with llamas for several reasons.
1) Llamas lighten my load. At the high altitudes at which most treks in Peru take place, llamas are an indispensable defense against altitude sickness. When I trek with llamas, I only carry a small daypack, while a llama is saddled with my larger backpack. This lighter load reduces the demand for oxygen on my body which is especially helpful when I am already struggling to catch my breath.
2) Llamas create less wear and tear on the trail. Llamas have soft feet like cats, so they have less of an impact on the trail than other popular pack animals, such as horses and mules. With Peru becoming a popular vacation destination, especially among hikers, I think trail impact will become increasingly important in the future.
3) Llamas provide great photo opportunities. Let’s face it. Llamas are cute. This is especially true when their owners gussy them up with colorful wool on their ears and bells around their necks. And, what says, “I had a unique and fabulous vacation in Peru” more than a photo of you with your llamas in the background?
4) Llamas are fun. I’m always entertained by llama behavior whether it is the male asserting his authority over other members of the pack (and sometimes his owner) or the baby lifting her head to display a milk mouth after nursing. I also enjoy interacting with the llamas by feeding them the “llama treats” we bring along on the trail.
So no, you cannot ride a llama. But you can certainly enjoy trekking with them as the Incas did in Peru.