Camelids in Peru: Vicuna, Llama, Alpaca

While traveling in Peru in search for nature, the four camelids of south america are on every photographers list. The Llama and the Alpaca are herded by the Peruvians. The Vicuna and the Guanaco live in the wild. And where can you see the Vicuna and the Guanaco in Peru?

The Camelids in Peru

Spotting the Llama and the Alpaca isn’t that difficult. I saw them in the north of the country. Once you leave the big cities and enters the wild, and extremely beautiful countryside of Peru, you’re in the right place. You’ll see the Peruvians herding not just sheep, cow and donkeys, but you’ll most definitely meet shepherds with Llama and Alpaca. Unlike sheep flocks, these groups stay in one place for a longer time.

Vicunas in the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve near Arequipa

Vicunas in the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve near Arequipa

Where can you see the Vicuna?

The animal was almost extinct, when the Peruvian government created a large natural reserve, just outside Arequipa. The reserve is called Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve. When you enter the reserve, you’ll see the silver mine, and the concrete factory. But one you’re over your amazement why they’re in a natural park, you start climbing towards the 4000 meters plateau. Look out for water areas, as this is where you’ll have the best chance of spotting thirsty vicunas. So, once you know the general area and you seek for water areas, it’s not that difficult to figure out where can you see Vicunas.

Llama on Machu Picchu (Peru)

Llama on Machu Picchu (Peru)

If Machu Picchu is part of your trip, you’ll have a good chance of coming eye to eye with lama and alpaca. Inside the guarded area, they roam free.

How to recognize alpaca from lama?
Next to the Alpaca being smaller than the Llama, the Llama has ears shaped like a banana. That proved for me by far easiest way to distinguish them. When you see then together in a pack, the size gives it away.

Alpaca (Peru)

Alpaca (Peru)

The Guanaco lives high in the Andes mountains. As this trip to Peru was mainly to see the Condors in Flight, I didn’t went out to discover them. On a next trip however, I hope to have a chance to go and see the fourth member of the family!

Oh, and for that question you’d like to ask, but hadn’t: Yes, when I was in Chivay, I had the opportunity to eat some Alpaca. It does taste very familiar to lamb/sheep. For all other questions, there’s the comments section below.


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