Today we will be discussing the history of alpacas
Alpacas were domesticated by pre-Incan civilizations. In southern Peru there have been mummies of alpacas and llamas found. The alpaca was used in religious practices and rituals and the indigenous people still consider alpacas as a gift from Pachamama, a goddess also known as the earth mother.
One legend of the origin of the alpaca states they came to be in the world after a goddess fell in love with a man. The goddess’ father only allowed her to be with her lover if he cared for her herd of alpacas. On top of caring for the herd, he was to always carry a small animal for his entire life. As the goddess came into our world, the alpacas followed her. Everything was fine until the man set the small animal down, and the goddess fled back to her home. On her way back home, the man attempted to stop her and her herd from fleeing. While he was not able to stop her from returning, he was able to stop a few alpacas from returning. These alpacas who did not make it back are said to be seen today in the swampy lands in the Andes waiting for the end of the world, so they may return to their goddess.
The Incans valued the alpacas highly. Most of the alpaca population at the time of the conquistadors were living in the Incan cities and surrounding areas. When the Spaniards were conquering the Incans, the Incan people fled into the mountains. They brought as many of their alpacas as they could with them. The Spanish conquistadors were responsible for almost wiping out the alpaca in their conquests. Luckily the Incans were able to bring some with them as they fled. Originally alpacas lived at a lower elevation but were able to adapt to the higher elevations that the Incans fled to in the Andes.
There are 2 breeds of alpacas, Suri & Huacaya. At the lower elevations, the Suris were more prevalent according to archaeological evidence. Today the Huacayas are more prevalent. It is believed that the Huacayas are better suited to the colder temps of the higher elevations and when the Incans fled the Spaniards the Huacayas thrived. If you visit the Andes Mountains today most of the alpacas you will see are the fluffy Huacaya.
Have you ever been to Peru? I desperately want to go. Hiking the Inca trail to Machu Pichu is on my bucket list and seeing alpacas in the mountains of Peru!
Until next time