High 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.
The 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 found it!
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.
Revered 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".
Selectively 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.
Llamas 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 more memorable.
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