Llamas in Perú

The llama is the South American relative of the camel, although it does not have a hump. It is a very strong animal that was domesticated by the inhabitants of the Andes. Their wild relatives are guanacos and vicuñas. The indigenous people used them for centuries as pack animals, being able to support between 23 and 34 kilograms and travel with that weight up to 32 kilometers in a single day. An entourage of llamas, which can be made up of several hundred individuals, can carry a large volume of cargo throughout the harsh Andean mountain ranges.

They are accommodating pack animals but up to a point. If a flame is overloaded, it will simply refuse to move. It often lies on the ground and spits, hisses and kicks its owner until the weight is lightened.

Llamas graze on the grass and, like cows, regurgitate food and chew on it. They chew the herb for a while before swallowing it for complete digestion. They can survive by eating different types of plants and need very little water. These characteristics make them a strong and safe animal even in sparse mountainous terrain.

This animal is useful to man not only in connection with transportation. Leather can be made from its skin and its wool is used to make ropes, rugs and other fabrics. The excrement from the flames dries up and burns to make fuel. Even once dead they can be of use to their owners: their meat is edible.

The origin of the llamas in Perú

Llamas are mammals of the ‘Camelidae’ family, descendants of the guanaco. The camelids would have appeared in America 50 million years ago. Llamas were domesticated 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.


The llamas in Perú has a long, thin neck and thick fur that ranges from dark beige to white, although the most common pattern is reddish-brown with white or yellow spots. The face is narrow with round ears and a cleft upper lip. It has 32 teeth, of which its lower incisors protrude. Its legs are provided with 2 toes with thick padding on the soles.

It has a large amount of hemoglobin and its red blood cells are oval. This is an adaptation to allow survival in low oxygen environments, since the flame spends its life at high altitudes.

This camelid weighs 130 to 200 kilograms and is approximately 1.7-1.8 meters tall.


The llama is a domesticated South American mammal, a descendant of the guanaco. The indigenous peoples of South America have used it as a pack and transport animal for thousands of years. Its origin is North American and it appeared there approximately 40 million years ago, but the populations migrated to their current ranges about 3 million years ago. They later became extinct from North America.

This species is a member of the Artiodactyla order, the Camelidae family and the Lama genus.


The llamas in Perú manifests a general sociability. Their life passes within groups made up of 20 individuals, of which about 6 are females with their young. The dominant male can be aggressive with other males to defend her territory and physical encounters occasionally occur. If it feels threatened, it is safe to spit, kick, or bite the intruder who dares to approach its domain or dominated.


The llama is not an animal that can be found in nature given its status as a domesticated species. Their natural range corresponds to the Andean mountains of South America, but today they are also found in North America, Europe and Australia.

It belongs to the habitat of the highlands of the Andes and the Altiplano of Perú, in the middle of temperate climates and at altitudes of approximately 4,000 meters above sea level.


The herbivorous diet of the llama is mainly composed of lichens, shrubs and almost any type of vegetation that you find in the mountains. Water is almost always obtained from the vegetables you eat. When he drinks it, he is able to swallow 2-3 liters in one sitting. Digestion consists of a longer process than in mammals because it is a ruminant. Therefore, she has to regurgitate her food and pass it through her 3 stomachs.


The male llama reaches sexual maturity at 3 years of age, while the female begins to mate when it reaches its first year of life. Thanks to her polygamy, the dominant male forms a harem of around 6 females in a given area; it does not allow other males to enter its territory.

Mating occurs in late summer or early fall and is done with the male and female lying down, for an estimated time of 20 to 45 minutes. 24 to 36 hours after copulation, the female releases a fertilized egg that will give rise to a small flame. Gestation lasts about 350 days and only 1 calf weighing 10 kilos is born regularly, with the ability to walk and run 1 hour after being born. In view of the fact that the mother cannot lick the baby due to its short tongue, she only caresses it and makes sounds. The calf is suckled until the fourth month of birth.

Why are Llamas important in Perú?

Llamas are Andean animals, the family of camelids, central to the peoples of the Andes regions.

They were domesticated by the Inca, to be used for transporting cargo extracting wool and leather. But, why are Llamas important in Perú?

Over the years and with the permanence of the Inca tradition in many aspects, the domestication of this animal still exists and contributes a lot to the Peruvian peoples.

Used in the transport and extraction of wool, for the production of clothing and blankets, sold in local stores, the llama plays a fundamental role in this economic turn in the region.

Are there llamas in Machu Picchu?

It is estimated that in Machu Picchu there are about twenty llamas. Each one of them has its own name engraved on one of the animal’s ears.

Llamas are not found in a single place in the Inca archaeological site. These are located in various parts of the Inca city grazing the green areas of the place.

During the vacation packages to Peru and Machu Picchu you will see many llamas.

Why are there llamas in Machu Picchu?

The Incas domesticated the llamas in Perú and used them to provide wool and meat to the inhabitants of Machu Picchu. They also served as a means of transport and fertilizer during the days of agriculture in the Inca city.

Both the Incas and pre-Inca cultures recreated the llama in ceramics. Many of the finds at Machu Picchu during the excavations used the llama for their ceramic creations, textiles, and more.

What other auquénidos can I see in Cusco?

In Machu Picchu it is not possible to appreciate alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos. The only auquénido that can be seen in the Inca city is the llama.


Alpacas are a domestic species of auquénido that inhabits mainly the Andean regions of the current Peruvian territory.

Alpacas are related to vicuñas. They are lower than flames. It is used mainly to make textiles with its fur, one of the finest.

Alpacas can be seen in the textile centers of Chinchero as well as in the streets of the Historic Center of the city of Cusco.


Vicuñas are a species of non-domesticated auquénidae. It mainly inhabits the current high Andean territories of Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. It is in danger of extinction mainly due to the value of its fur, one of the finest and most expensive in the world.

In Cusco it is only possible to see vicuñas in the Ausangate Regional Conservation Area (ACR). This is approximately 5 hours from the city of Cusco. It can be visited during the trip to the Mountain 7 colors (Vinicunca).


Guanacos are non-domesticated auquénids that mainly inhabit northern Peru and southern Chile and Argentina. It is believed that they inhabited the Peruvian Andes for millions of years. This species is not in danger of extinction mainly because it inhabits high-altitude and cold territories, difficult for man.

Unfortunately it is not possible to appreciate guanacos during the visit to Cusco. In Peru they are in danger of extinction and protected by the State. They can be seen in the Calipuy reserves (La Libertad) and the Salinas and Aguada Blanca reserve (Arequipa). In our Packages to Perú, you will see this incredible animals.

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