The alpaca is a South American camelid with a natural soft fiber of several colour shades from black to white. Alpacas have beautiful large eyes framed by long lashes. Their eye colours also vary from black, light brown to sky blue. The domestication of the vicuña, and its crossbreeding with the guanaco gave rise to alpaca, and its presence in the Andean region as a domesticated animal dates back to 4000 BC. Currently, the alpaca carries hybrid llama genes because it is bred mostly in mixed herd sites.
There are two types of alpaca breeds: the huancaya breed with a shorter and curly fiber, which is the most abundant, and the suri breed, which fiber grows to a length of 40 cm and is finer and softer. Suri is located almost exclusively in the Puno area. A limited number of alpacas live in the Andean highlands at an altitude of more than 3,800 meters above sea level in areas including Ecuador, Argentina and Chile. The largest number of alpacas in the world, more than 3 million, is found in Peru.
Alpaca fiber comes in a variety of at least 22 colours. According to market demands, only white fiber alpacas were bred, reducing colour diversity. Nowadays, the value of coloured fiber is being reconsidered.
Training of alpaca breeders is focused on improving breeding skills with the expectation that in the near future this great source of highlands might be an important source of income.
There are many routes where you can find alpacas. A typical place to find these cute animals are the extensive pastures of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Another typical place is the stunning Inca city of Machu Picchu. You can get here either in a common way by train or, more interestingly, by trek. There are countless treks, but the most famous is the Inca Trail. It is also worth mentioning the increasingly popular Salkantay Trek and Lares Trek, which connects hikers with the local people and nature. All treks start in Cusco and most of them lead to the Machu Picchu, except Choquequirao, which leads to the hidden Inca city of the same name, which is nicknamed the Sister of Machu Picchu, or the Ausangate Trek, which takes you to the majestic snowy Mount Ausangate that is worshiped as the most important natural deity of the whole region. More details about these treks and tours can be found just below:
If you want to visit Machu Picchu, do not forget to book your Machu Picchu ticket beforehand, to avoid any problem.
The best time is during the dry season - April to the late September. In October, the rainy season starts so you can find Machu Picchu covered by clouds. If you travel in June, we recommend you to book the Inti Raymi 2021 tour that takes place on the 24th of June.