Anyone who knows me or has been reading this blog for a while knows 2 things about me –
- I love animals
- I love anything a bit peculiar
So of course anything combining both of these things is a winner in my eyes.
Long story short, a couple of months ago I decided I wanted to go llama or alpaca trekking. As you do. I wasn’t really bothered which, although when I was a kid I was always a bit wary of the llamas at animal parks as I was terrified of them spitting on me (I also thought they spat yogurt but that’s neither here nor there).
Anyway, as it happens, I found a deal on Groupon for alpaca trekking at a place called Alpaca Annie in New Romney, Kent. A farm specialising in alpaca care, trekking and alpaca wool products. They seemed like a friendly bunch so I thought I would give it a go! Dragging hubby along with me, our alpaca experience involved learning a little bit about the animals, followed by taking them for a walk and then feeding them some carrots.
There were 8 of us in total and we were led by a bubbly and knowledgeable lady named Lara who had a real enthusiasm and passion for the alpacas. We were brought to a pen with 8 alpacas in (one alpaca per person) where we were told that they must walk in a particular order. We must also not stand directly behind the alpacas as they don’t like it, so the human trekkers all walked on the left while the alpacas walked on the right.
Lara brought each alpaca out one by one looking for a human volunteer to pair up with. My guy was called Splodge and was the baby of the group. My husband’s alpaca was called Four Ervin and was described as the ‘studmuffin’ of the group.
As we began walking, the alpacas obediently trotted along beside us, stopping to nibble on the grass at every available opportunity. Four Ervin occasionally preferred to gaze wistfully into the distance while all his field-mates got their fill of the lush grass, much to my amusement.
At the halfway point we paused for pictures and a snack. We were each given a handful of carrot sticks to feed the alpacas with. Splodge happily gobbled whatever I offered him but still found time to munch on the grass. Four Ervin on the other hand wouldn’t entertain the idea of a mere human feeding him carrots, no thank you! Fortunately my husband got the opportunity to feed some of the younger alpacas carrot sticks later on.
I thought alpacas would be quite cuddly animals, but Lara informed us that they only really like being touched on the front of the neck with the back of your hand. At the end of the trek, our alpacas returned to their field and then we were able to go into the nursery pen and meet some of the youngsters.
Some of the alpacas were quite bold and wanted the carrot sticks, whereas others were still quite shy around new people so would avoid us. It was enjoyable being able to get up close to these cute critters.
After our alpaca encounter, we were all presented with a certificate to say that we had been on a trek – I thought this was a nice touch. Our experience lasted approximately an hour in total and after that we decided to have an early lunch in the farm coffee shop which I would also highly recommend.
If you love animals and fancy doing something random then why not take an alpaca for a walk? And no, you cannot ride them!
Find me on twitter @quirkylilplanet for more of this kind of stuff and nonsense.