Have you ever walked an alpaca before? It’s probably not something you’ve thought was possible, especially if traveling outside the high altitudes of Peru.
However, we recently visited an Alpaca farm in Virginia and walking an alpaca is starting to become a popular thing to do in many places around the world, and on our recent family road trip to the Shenandoah Valley we discovered why.
Alpacas are delightful animals with unique, gentle personalities. They are known as one of the most beautiful camelids in South America, the alpacas are indigenous to the Peruvian Andes.
They are a lot more chilled (and smaller) than their cousins, the llama. This makes trekking with them a great day out for the whole family, as children are usually strong enough to guide them unassisted.
Alpacas also have softer hair/fiber and are used for clothes, whereas llamas’ fiber will be used more for floor rugs.
It is said llamas have a personality more like a dog, and alpacas like cats. I prefer cats to dogs so no wonder walking alongside an alpaca brought me an insane amount of joy. (Just as joyful as the goat yoga I did in the Finger Lakes).
There are about 53,000 alpacas in the United States. They originally came over here in the 80s as an exotic animal and cost around $100,000. While they can still be showstoppers, they are no longer considered so exotic and cost far less.
We visited the Point of View Alpaca Farm near Staunton in the Shenandoah Valley. Owned by Teri and Dave Grembi, the 25-acre farm is situated at the top a hill with 360-degree panoramic views of both the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains.
The Grembis started farming alpacas once their children moved out of home and were no longer riding their horses. They started looking for something new and different to do and came across alpaca farming.
They started in 2014 and since then the have been on a mission to provide a peaceful, loving environment to raise our alpacas and to provide a truly joyful and memorable experience to our guests. #NailingIt
Alpaca Walk Experience
Dave and Teri start with an introduction to proper handling techniques, how to safely walk with an alpaca, and potential risks – although they are few and there hasn’t been a problem, they are still livestock so caution and gentle treatment is required WITH lots of love. They soak it up!
You’re then paired with an alpaca, given an insight into their personalities, and then given the opportunity for a group photo with views of the Alleghany Mountains (sadly covered in clouds for us!)
We walked down the property, passed the aromatic lavender field and down to the small Miller River running through the property. We had beautiful views of the pastures, hills, woods, and mountains the entire way.
At the river, we had a chance to feed the alpacas. They mostly eat grass but will happily much on their high nutritional pellet grain treats throughout the day.
Meet our Alpacas
Fun Fact: All the alpacas at Point of View are named after Beatles members or Beatles songs.
From the minute we met Sunny during our introductory talk with Dave, I wanted to be his walking partner.
His doey eyes and tuft of hair sprouting between his hairs drew me in. He had such presence as he stood calmly checking us out.
He was the most experienced out of the alpacas for walking with humans, so he was paired with Savannah and me. You do have to be 12 years old to walk your own alpaca at Point of View.
We soon got to learn the different personalities of our family’s alpacas as we walked.
Kalyra’s Jo Jo barely made a sudden movement or emotive expression. She calmly walked beside Kalyra happy to be guided and so calm, steady, and peaceful.
Craig’s alpaca was also calm, cool, and curious.
Our Sunny was on high alert the entire time, looking all around and startling at sudden noises and movements. Then he’d stop and allow us a few cuddles before checking around for safety again.
Most alpacas love cuddles, but it depends on how used to humans they are. Get to know your alpaca and go slowly. They’ll let you know if they want a cuddle or not.
I think my water bottle sloshing around in my backpack was bringing him great confusion. It eased when I could finally move it to a position where it didn’t make a noise every step.
Alpacas are prey animal and so always on the lookout for threats. The biggest threats to them are coyotes, and strangely, dogs.
They have eyes on the side of their face and can be quite jumpy when something unexpected happens. They don’t like being touched on the head for this reason. You’re taught how to hold the lead in case they do suddenly jump, and you can maintain control.
Walking an alpaca was the perfect opportunity to unplug and reconnect with nature. To drop all the stress of the past year and feel simple joy with your new walking buddy.
It was like having your favorite cuddly teddy bear come to life. You just wanted to hug and pat them endlessly.
They were so gentle and placid and curious, each with their own personality. Before we visited, the girls and I tried to guess the sound an alpaca makes. We were thrilled to hear one of the alpacas humming a tune near the river’s edge. Sunny made some low gravelly sounds at times.
I loved watching them all walking in a line to the right of their handlers, their necks craning on high alert for threats, and walking slightly behind us so we’d be the one to fall victim first!
Dave and Teri were fantastic, stopping to make sure everyone felt comfortable – including the alpacas. They taught us a lot about alpacas along the way and they also took lots of photos of us.
Their gentle, friendly spirits matched the alpacas, and you could tell they loved the animals and cared for them well.
So when you visit Virginia and are searching on your phones for an alpaca farm near me, we highly recommend Point of View Alpaca Farm!
Alpaca fiber was once reserved only for the Inca Gods and used to make clothing and blankets for royalty.
Alpaca fiber is 8 times warmer than wool and much softer, which is why it’s so revered. All those itchy and irritated wool wearers can now rejoice, as alpaca fiber contains no lanolin (the stuff that irritates you) so it’s hypoallergenic.
You can purchase alpaca products from the small store at Point of View when finished.
Many of the products have been made using the fiber from the alpacas on the farm, so we bought some scarves made from Sunny, and some socks. Note: the alpacas are treated and sheared humanly.
I think we’ll be searching alpaca experiences near me on our future travels. Look for guided tours, vineyard retreats and farm stays as a way to enjoy the most adorable of farm animals!
Be sure to arrive with arms ready for cuddles and a spirit open for de-stressing and joyful ease!