ALPACAS IN CUSCO
So you are wondering where you can see Alpacas in Cusco and what to do and not to do when approaching them. Alpacas have inhabited the Andes for centuries as their llama mates and others like the wild Vicuña. Also, Alpacas are domestic camelids usually prized for their fine fiber used for weaving, and consequently, became the main livelihood of income for Alpaca Herders.
Here we are going to tell you how to see Alpacas and get a picture with them when traveling to Cusco-Peru. Let’s get started!
Alpacas in Cusco City
As you enter downtown Cusco, to the Historical center of the city, you will encounter girls finely dressed in their costumes, women, and kids with alpacas to take photos with, strolling around the streets and plaza. These people will approach you with little Alpaca hoping you to take a picture with them. Some fluffy baby alpacas are all dressed up; they are pet Alpacas. You must know that it is your decision either to accept the opportunity or not to take pictures, it usually is up to you how much you can tip the ladies, the average is 01 US dollar or the equivalent of a dollar in soles, some ladies may ask for more, so you just deal it adding a few more.
Alpacas in Sacred Valley
The other way of seeing Alpaca is by traveling to the Sacred Valley of the Inca, about 30 km north of Cusco. Here, at small textile stores, textile mills, and cooperatives, Alpacas are kept in fences so you can see, rub their soft hair, and even feed them. One of the well-known textile cooperatives in the Sacred Valley is called Awanacancha before really entering the Sacred Valley, and if you are looking for an Alpaca exhibit, let your tour guide know and visit it for a while. Visits are for free, and besides Alpaca, you will also feed Llamas and Guanaco camelids. If you wish to buy some handicraft item, then have a look at the store and if not, just get in the car and carry on. In the heart of Sacred Valley, you still have the chance to see Alpaca at some tourist restaurants; they too pet Alpacas, then after lunch, you can hang out with them. Also, at Chinchero village, which is over the sacred Valley on the way to Ollantaytambo, you have the chance to visit the textile exhibit centers and have a close encounter with the alpaca.
Alpacas usually inhabit the highland pastures and what you see here is pet Alpaca.
Alpacas in the countryside
The best place to see Alpacas is without any doubt the Ausangate trek as well as the Lares route. Ausangate is home to the Alpaca population. This is where the Andean men adapted to the harsh climate and began to raise alpaca for centuries as their main source of income and source of food as well. For them, Alpaca is everything. Whether you are traveling Ausangate or Lares trek, you will see countless alpaca; grazing all over the meadows and pastures. They are predominantly white and usually shy; that is the difference when you have a pet alpaca in the city that you can touch, hold and even kiss, but those of the Ausangate or Lares don´t want to be touched. It is good to see them in their natural habitat.
Are there Alpacas in Machu Picchu?
Only Llamas are roaming Machu Picchu Park, No Alpaca is there, so don´t get confused.
Two types of breeds: Alpaca Huacaya and alpaca Suri and notice their characteristics and differences:
- Lank fiber
- Shiny hair like
- Hanging long fleece
- Lower density
- More elastic
- Crimpy fleece
- Less luster similar to wool
- Less softness
- Less length
- More density
- Less elastic
Alpaca and Baby Alpaca Products
Alpaca wool is one of the softest and most luxurious forms of wool besides Cashmere and Vicuña wool. Alpaca wool products are for sale at many different stands at the Handicraft Center Cusco and stores around the San Blas neighborhood in Cusco.
Kuna, an upscale store, also sells high-quality alpaca clothing; blankets, and throws, but the good places to find items at a lower price are the Chinchero and Pisac market, there you have so much more to choose from, like sweaters, cardigans, coats, scarfs and so on.
Baby alpaca wool is the softest hair shorn from the belly of the alpaca for the very first time, and the items crafted with this fine wool usually cost more.
Written by Aldair Choque