Sunday, November 21, 2010

Farm animals in Peru and Bolivia

Yin and yang finding out about
life together. Lamb is a staple meat
and we saw many flocks along
our travels.
Livestock farming in the Andean regions of Peru and Bolivia is very different from what I am familiar with in Canada. The biggest difference is in how the animals are raised. Communities or families have herds of llamas, alpacas, cows and sheep that graze freely in the mountains (no fences in these parts). The animals are rounded up once a week or so by the herder to make sure that they remain in the right valley and to guard against poaching (the value of animals being what it is, they are unfortunately stolen). All of the animals are branded for easy identification, but alas, this does not protect against thievery.

During our trek through the Cordillera Blanca in Peru, we encountered farm animals in every valley. In the Cordillera Real in Bolivia, communities are deliniated by valleys and are often separated by glacial rivers. Trekking through the vast lands and up and over passes is just part of what a "campesito" does. It was quite inspiring (and humbling too), to witness the physical strength and determination of the people.

Horses are a big part of life in the
Andes. They are essential
for transportation and as pack
animals. Here they helped us
across a river.
Donkeys are also integral to life in the Andes. They can
carry up to 40 kilos (25 more than llamas). Such gentle
animals they are.

Alpacas make you just want to smother yourself in
their fur. The white ones are more "valuable" than
the lovely brown ones. Alpacas are raised for their
fabulous fur which is used to make many garments,
from hats and gloves to gorgeous sweaters. Warmth
and beauty combined.

Alpacas graze freely on grasses.
There are several varieties of llamas. One variety is best for its meat (they
have less fur so are valuable for the food they provide), while another
variety has more fur, making them valuable for their fur "harvest". Their fur
can be shorn twice a year. Both varieties can give birth to one llamasita
a year. Llamas are gentle creatures and a spectacle to watch as they
effortlessly bounce up and down steep faces. 


  1. Great pics Inga! Glad to see the trip is going well!
    (Oh - and can't wait to have you back...the work is just piling up waiting for you!)

  2. I could go for a Llama burger right now

  3. Ola Jan and Inga!

    I am so enjoying your blog - virtual travel for those of us at home. So interesting and awe-inspiring. What a grand adventure!

    Love the animal posting Jan; such beautiful creatures.

    All the photos are amazing, but I always look forward to the pics of you two: can your smiles get any bigger??!!

    lots of love, Monika

  4. Hi Monika!
    Jan and Inga here - we are so delighted that you´re joining us on our adventure. Smiling sure is not hard around here - even at altitude :)))
    Next up: Salar de Uyuni ...

    from us.

  5. WOW is actually inadequate. Even in caps! What an adventure.
    Love the stone fence you were leaning against wating for food Inga.
    Hope Jan's cold and upset stomach didn't last too long.
    Thanks for the pics of the donkeys as well as llamas and alpacas. :)
    How's the Spanish going? Is all your hard work paying off?
    Why did you have to get up at midnight? Isn't treking in the dark dangerous?
    Love your new digs. You guys sure have excellent "gut feelings" when it comes to choosing guides and lodgings.
    I'm loving being an armchair tourist. This could be a new career or the two of you. Thanks for sharing.
    Love JanF

  6. Hi Jan: About that midnight thing ... not sure about trekking in the dark... climbing up a glacier in the dark felt actually pretty good: we only got to see on the way down just what we climbed up! Those headlamps provide a precise radius of light. And anyway, it is best to follow the guide (precisely).
    The trade off is that once the sun starts melting the ice, the rock ridges become unstable and it is best to ascend at night so that the return is early in the day.
    Off into the Salar de Uyuni for 3 days today. So, watch for new pics at the end of the week :)
    Inga and Jan

  7. BIG LOVE for the animal photos.... alpacas and llamas are just the sweetest looking animals... AND alpaca wool is a beautiful thing!!! Your photos and stories of your adventure treks are incredible to read. Thank you for sharing all of your experiences with us loyal readers!!!!
    Inga... did you really try llama meat? What does it taste like? Can't wait to see and read more. YAY for super fun times!!!
    C xo