Altiplano; llamas and their cousins

It took a lot of planning and confirmation before we were able to confirm our trip to the Altiplano, mostly because of the danger of visiting high altitudes, but we finally made it.

We spent the first day driving (very slowly) up to Putre, with lots of stops in-between.  The stops enabled us to acclimatize more slowly, but also gave amazing opportunities for photography.

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At first we were calling every 4-legged animal a llama, but we quickly learned the difference.

Vicuñas:

They are beautiful graceful creatures.

They look like deer – and have a much smaller head.  These ones are not tamed and are much harder to get closer too than the llamas and alpacas.

I sat at the front of the bus, as I often get car-sick, and so I had the opportunity to spot groups of creatures as we traveled (sometimes even before our driver and our guide spotted them).

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Llamas:

People have been taming and farming llamas in South America for over 6000 years. Baby llamas are especially cute.  The llamas are larger than the alpacas, have longer necks, and also have ears shaped like a banana.

Alpacas:

These ones are smaller than llamas and have a big fuzzy head, and a much shorter neck.  They often hang-out with the llamas and have been known to inter-breed.  There were three too-friendly alpacas at one stop that have been eating people food from tourists for years.  I didn’t give them anything as I know how harmful processed food can be for animals at home.

The llamas and alpaca sometimes have colourful earrings which are used to tell one farmer’s animal from another.