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How Llama Expeditions Got Its Name

February 17, 2014|Posted in: Llama Expeditions

How Llama Expeditions Got Its Name

A little over a year ago, I sat with Juan at his house in Cusco tossing out possible names for our as yet unborn travel company. Naming a company is not as easy as it might seem. First of all, if you’ve thought of a catchy name, there is a pretty good chance that someone else has thought of the same catchy name and is already using it. Sometimes, the name isn’t being used, but the website address has been reserved. In either case, when you search for available website URLs on a site like, the website address comes up as unavailable.

Then, there is the matter of selecting a name that resonates with the mission and values of your business. Ideally, in some way the name should reflect who you are and what you are about. So, something like D&J Travel was out. Balancing availability and meaning is a tricky proposition.

I knew from the start, though, that I wanted to include “llama” in the name. And, it was not because I have an overwhelming fondness for camelids – although I once kissed an alpaca on the lips. Rather, I had heard that in the Andean religion llamas represent unconditional love. This is because they provide so much to the Andean people – meat for food, fur for warmth, and transport for heavy loads. They were even sacrificed to the Andean deities. In fact, at Qenko there are carvings of llamas on a sacrificial table.

I’m not really the warm and fuzzy type. So, all this talk of love, love, love is really not at all in keeping with my tough-as-nails New York born and bred self, even after years of being mellowed by the California sunshine. But, I wanted to capture the spirit of the kind of travel experiences I planned to offer. And, the symbolism of llamas seemed to fit the bill.

Saturday night I attended a fundraising dinner for Ethical Traveler where comedian Josh Kornbluth regaled us with tales of his recent trip to India. He ended on a solemn note by talking about a report in the news of how twelve Indian schoolgirls had been trampled to death. His trip to the very city in which this horrible tragedy had occurred had changed how he viewed the story. He said, and I’m quoting loosely here, “They were not them. They were not statistics. They were us.”

That’s it I thought. This is the idea that resided in my heart when I came up with the name Llama Expeditions and frantically typed it into to see if the URL was available. Thankfully, it was. So, my second company was christened. Oh…and there will be an actual llama trek.


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