The most famous fauna aside from the Capybara is the Llama.
As you would have read from our other pages on Peru, we had been enthralled with the interaction we had with this ‘camel of the highlands’. But aside from this wooly and lanky animal, did you know that they have smaller cousins? Yes, these are the Alpaca and Vicuña.
Our first encounter with these creatures came when we had our lunch at Hacienda Tunupa in the sacred valley. After lunch, we saw a couple of these creatures tethered in the small field by the river.
So it was initial curiosity that led us to them and eventually to pose for photos with them. We later found out that the hacienda has them here much like a petting zoo.
It was just as well that on Machu Picchu we saw many free roaming Llamas. They were racing around using the cobbled walkways. Be careful to get out of their way as they come running! We found them foraging on the day we walked to the Inca bridge. Our guide had told us that they have to protected against foxes?
A close up examination of the Llama shows that they have long eye lashes – so similar to the camel!
Llamas are like the camels of the desert. They are domesticated and sheared for their wool. The other, the Alpaca is a cousin of the Llama and also farmed for its wool. The jewel in the crown of wool is that from the wild Vicuña. Although now farmed as well, the Vicuña does not have as much wool and thus the quantity of harvested wool is much lower. It makes for the reason that the cost of Vicuña wool fabrics and textiles are astronomical compared with their more abundant cousins.
So when it came to buying fabrics products made from the wool of these creatures, there is obviously a scale up. In the Larcomar shopping mall back in Lima, we found a shop (Kuna) which had a sale on the scarves. Suan managed to buy a four pieces of these for just over US$100. There are many brands in Peru producing varying degrees of quality.
Did you know that a scarve made from Vicuña costs well in excess of US$1500? Wow! Each piece could be an heirloom that is worth even more than the Pashmina that used to be in vogue.