Ken Freivokh – 18th October 2022 – A trip to Peru in 2011

18 October 2022     British Alpaca Society     BAS Board

Board members keep sharing events at their farms, and I thought to stretch time and location to reach beyond the local patch and, in this blog, go back as far as 2011 and our first trip to Peru shortly after we started looking after alpacas in Sussex.

Referring to a ‘first trip’ may be somewhat misleading, as I was raised in Peru and lived there until circa 1970.   However, one thing is to have lived in a country where seeing an alpaca is an everyday event, and quite another going back to be amongst them following a commitment to look after quite a few, aware of the need to understand and appreciate what alpaca ownership entails…..

The 2011 trip started in Puerto Maldonado, in the Peruvian jungle.  I could mention Orinoco crocodiles (largest living reptile), jaguars, pumas or cougars but, what left an indelible memory, was a short evening walk with a guide within the grounds of the lodge, to come across huge spiders, scorpions and ants which we were blissfully unaware of earlier on the same patch….

The Amazon experience was followed by a full factory alpaca experience in Arequipa, then overnight at Colca Lodge to ensure we could arrive at crack of dawn at Colca Canyon to witness amazing sights of massive condors rising with the sun.   As for alpacas, they were pretty much everywhere, yearlings cutely shown by young girls in Chivay’s village square.

Puno was next, with a visit to Mallkini Ranch – an unforgettable experience, learning about their incredible breeding programme, alpaca shearing (I had a go!) and seeing some quite amazing huacayas and suris which had been selected for the Fiesta.    A further and highly worthwhile visit was to Rural Alianza’s experimental alpaca farm in Macusani – with over 12,000 alpacas and perhaps the highest alpaca farm at 4,315m above sea level…….     Of course, we could not leave Puno without a visit to lake Titicaca and its many floating reed islands, let alone some of the local nightlife!

Joining the train from Puno to Cuzco was quite an unmissable experience.   The panoramic aft coach offered unrivalled views of the Andes and, if that was not enough, we were highly entertained by fabulous dancers and music groups on the train.

Cusco fully lived up to expectations, travelling through the Sacred Valley,  Awana Kancha alpacas, the market at Pisac, Urubamba and Chinchero – another memorable day before returning to Lima and our flight back…….    We promised ourselves we would return, and return we did five years later – perhaps material for a future blog………?