Tuesday 7 February 2012

Traveling with Llamas


Tender-Footed, Gentle Beasts Welcomed Porters and Companions On Lares Valley Llama Trek, New Adventure in Peru

Andean trekking specialist Llama Expeditions ( announces a new 11-day custom itinerary, Lares Llama Trek. Guests explore the Peruvian Andes with tender-footed llamas as load-bearing companions throughout the journey.

Diane Valenti, owner/founder of Llama Expeditions, noted that horses which can carry heavier loads are used more often today than are llamas in Peruvian adventure travel. She said the reasons for this vary from the greater efficiency of horses to a growing humane concern for the llamas that can't handle extremely high elevations and rapid altitude changes.

Llama Expeditions hopes to reestablish the llama as a viable Peruvian pack animal. "The paths we follow meet stringent criteria as regards the wellbeing of our animal companions," Valenti said. "Plus, over the course of a trek our guests become very attached to them. Experiencing these gentle friends day after day in their own natural setting enhances the delights of the trips and gives an economic boost to the families that own them."

The Lares Llama Trek trip ( begins and ends in Lima. It includes a tour of World Heritage sites as well as a culinary demonstration. In Cusco the Inca culture come to life through visits to nearby ruins and while exploring the Pisac market and salt pans of Maras. The actual hike begins at Lares hot springs when llamas join the guests. After the trek, guests visit Pumamarca and tour Inca homes in Ollantaytambo before embarking on the train to Machu Picchu Pueblo. Experiencing Machu Picchu concludes the adventure before guests return to Lima.

Departures are offered on an open scheduled basis with a minimum of two trekkers. The best travel times are between March and November. Per person rates are reduced as a group size increases and begin at $3,725 per person for two to four people. Included are double occupancy accommodations, airport/hotel transfers, English-speaking guides, entrance fees to sites, most meals, itinerary-dependent transportation, and carbon offsetting for flights.

Llama Expeditions offers a range of guided tours through Peru, from sightseeing to multi-day hikes along the Inca Trail. In addition to taking in the stunning scenery and experiencing true adventure, these tours also allow travelers to make a personal connection to the country and its people.

"The company fills the spot between responsible tourism and voluntourism," said Valenti. "This is a real vacation for people who work hard and want a chance to relax. We stay in nice hotels and eat in good restaurants. But it's also a chance for culturally curious travelers to make a meaningful connection with the people and the land of Peru." Guests are encouraged to "pay-it-forward" by contributing to a variety of local community development organizations. See:

About Llama Expeditions

Entrepreneur and outdoorswoman Diane Valenti hatched the idea for her company in 2008 over a home-cooked chicken dinner at close to 14,000 feet in the Peruvian Andes. She has been able to apply her over 20 years as a business consultant working with clients such as Genentech, Nike, and Starbucks Coffee Company to her enterprise that goes beyond just ordinary tourism.

Llama Expeditions tours offer full cultural immersion giving guests the opportunity to see how Peruvians really live—to talk with them about their dreams and accomplishments and to learn about the challenges they face. Interactions with carefully selected nonprofit and grassroots organizations are also woven into the itinerary when possible giving participants the chance to experience the difference gifts of healthy food, school supplies, clothing, or sunglasses can make in the lives of some of the world's poorest people.

Looking to the future Llama Expeditions anticipates investigating new and rewarding llama trekking options and local community relationships in other locations of the Peruvian Andes and beyond.

Llama Expeditions is a member of the Adventure Travel Trade Association and the International Ecotourism Society.


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