Llamas are members of the camel family. Like their smaller relative, the alpaca, they are domesticated animals, bred for thousands of years in South America as beasts of burden. Their fur is used for a number of purposes, including clothing, rugs and rope. But it is their reputation as legendary pack animals that has made the llama a treasured institution in South America. Known as the "ship of the Andes," the llama has been a crucial part of the South American transportation system in mountainous regions. They have been part of religious ceremonies. Mummified llamas have been found entombed with their owners; tiny bronze llama sculptures have been found at various burial sites. They are strong, agile and gentle creatures that are able to bear large loads. Their hooves are much like that of a deer, which results in less trail damage than a packhorse or a mule. And they can be trained to follow and walk with you at your own pace, which makes them the ideal pack animal to take along on a hike. At the Northern Vermont Llama Company in North Waterville, you can do just that. They offer "llama treks" — a hike in the woods with trained llamas that carry all your picnic and hiking supplies for the day. All that's required is the ability to hold a leash and walk. Llamas are calm, curious animals that behave well with children. Lindsay Chandler, from Northern Vermont Llama Company, says they are easier to walk than dogs. "They walk the same speed as we do," she explains, "so if you're a hiker, it's the greatest animal to just walk with, because generally, they walk right along with you." Host Marianne Eaton joins Lindsay on a llama trek with a few friends and a big picnic lunch that she didn't have to carry.
- Northern Vermont Llama Co.
Geoff & Lindsay Chandler
766 Lapland Road
Waterville, VT 05492
- Stowe Llama Ranch
Chris and Linda Wood
2363 West Hill Road
Stowe, VT 05672
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