in the Andes Mountains, llamas have been helping people carry their
wares for thousands of years. The llama (pronounced "yama"),
is a member of the camel family, and is one of the oldest domesticated
animals. Their thick coats of wool and
honed survival instincts enable them to thrive in one of the most extreme
climates on earth.
lost Incan city of Machu Pichu is perched on a high saddle, between
two jagged mountain peaks, 2,000 ft. above the mighty Urubamba River
in Peru. So remote is the location, that the Spanish conquistadors never
The Incan empire, which flourished from
about 1200 to 1532 AD; depended on the llama to transport trade goods,
root crops, and building materials to extremely difficult to reach locations
throughout the South American highlands.
by the Andean people, llamas are much like the bison to the indigineous
cultures of North America. The llama is the second most depicted form
in Andean art, next to the sun (which was their deity). This "whistling
llama pot" is well over a thousand years old. The Quechua people
of the Andes call the llama, "Silent Brother".
bred for gentleness, for over five thousand years, a well trained llama
will eagerly follow adults and children alike. Our llamas have enabled
us to facilitate wilderness experiences with a wide range of people;
from groups of enthusiastic young trailblazers to experienced mountaineers,
to self-proclaimed couch potatoes.
Llamas are the perfect low-impact, high
altitude pack animal. Their leather padded, two-toed feet and natural
agility give them a sure-footedness akin to mountain goats and bighorn
sheep. Their tracks and droppings are similar to an elk's, and have
little impact on fragile wilderness trails. They exempify the "leave
no trace" wilderness ethic we practice and teach.
are great hiking companions. They are alert, curious, and just as excited
to be in the mountains as we are. They walk at a comfortable pace for
hiking humans; and their keen senses of smell, hearing, and sight will
often point out a distant herd of deer or elk for us. They have captured
our hearts with their unique, "llama-like" behavior and amusing
personalities. Their presence makes our time in the wilderness even