by Elena

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Alpaca is probably one of the most beautiful animals of South America. It is part of the bigger family of camelids. Descendent of vicuña and related to Lama, but half the size of Lama. 

They are native to Andes (South America), but can be found as well in other areas, usually in mountains with high altitude. Although I have traveled to Latin America before, I still haven’t had the chance to visit countries like Peru or Bolivia, that is why I didn’t see Alpacas before. 

When I was planning our trip to Austrian countryside, I would have never imagined that there would be Alpacas living there. Imagine my surprise when I was looking for a place to stay during our visit to Hallstatt when I ran into this cute hotel at Wolfgang, whose owners have a farm next to it. The time has come, and we arrived at Vienna. On our second day of our trip we drove from Vienna to Hallstatt, and decided to spend the day there, since it is getting dark early during wintertime. We arrived at Wolfgang, late at night after a great day at Hallstatt.

Next morning the only thing we could think of, is to meet for the very first time the Alpacas. We got lucky since the weather was lovely and the Alpacas were enjoying a sunny day running around the farm. Never thought that they are so beautiful, social and peaceful animals.

Our 3 friends live in Wolfgang, together with horses, mini ponies, sheep and other animals. They are probably the most beautiful, cute, peaceful and interesting animals I met till now. Although they are known for spitting at people, that didn’t happen. That is because they felt safe and relaxed when we were close to them.

Visitors are not allowed to get inside the farm, in order to keep them safe and not disturbed. 

The owner of the farm gave us some tree branches and we fed them.  You must keep in mind that you are not allowed to feed Alpacas without permission. Later, they informed us that many plants are poisonous to Alpacas, so please do not attempt something like that on your own.

Interesting facts I didn’t know about Alpacas: 

· Alpacas are not bred to be working animals but are bred specifically for their fleece. They do not need to be slaughtered to reap their product. 

· Their fleece is a renewable resource that is sheared once a year to keep them cool in summer. 

· Sometimes they spit at people if frightened or annoyed or to express discomfort or complaint. 

· Alpacas stay in herds. There is always an Alpha male in each herd.

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