The Llama Pack Project works to recover traditional uses and breeding of carrier llamas as a tool for sustainable rural development and conservation of mountain ecosystems in the highlands surrounding the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
– The Llama Pack Mission Statement
The Llama Pack Project was born when we found an opportunity to generate long-term sustainable development within our neighboring communities in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
While enjoying outdoor activities inour breath-taking surroundings we met amazing families who welcomed us into their homes and shared life stories with us. These families all have rich cultural backgrounds that are on the verge of disappearing – most are forced to work in cities away from their hometowns to be able to provide for their community. Here we saw a need.
Then we noticed that they had llamas that were used only once or twice a year to transport potato seeds. Here we saw a resource.
Finally, we knew that these communities have belonged to parts of the Inca trails – historically used for commercializing goods, currently promoted as alternative tourism treks by an increasing number of tour operators and agencies. Here we saw an opportunity.
By September 2012 we had an idea that continues to grow, mature and evolve: the Llama Pack Project. We hope you will be part of this by learning with us, sharing your experience and spreading the word.
During the Inca Empire llamas were considered sacred and were fundamental to their economy, owning them was a symbol of privilege. Historically, llamas were abolished as a means of subverting local indigenous peoples during the colonial power struggle and therefore traditional knowledge related to llama breeding practices disappeared.
Currently llama breeding is practiced mainly by the most impoverished families of high-Andean communities which do not have an economical use for them due to their lack of knowledge and systemized breeding.
We envision empowered communities that are able to hope for a better future and make it a reality. We pursue this goal by combining access to alternative sources of income with access to multi disciplinary education in order to provide community members with necessary skills and tools to pursue their own goals and find an attractive alternative to urban dwelling.
Alternative sources of income:
We envision empowered communities that protect their water resources, native forests, pastures and ancestral trails while disseminating environmental awareness amongst visitors. We pursue this goal by facilitating environmental conservation through actions and education.
Environmental Conservation Education
We envision an empowered community network capable of utilizing their camelid resources to provide en environmentally sustainable pack service to all agencies and tour operators that work in this mountain range. We pursue this goal by encouraging healthy breeding practices and job creation.
These communities are traditionally agricultural and pastoralist communities. Average education level is primary school. Spoken native language is Quechua, usually only men have average Spanish proficiency. Access to schools and public health is limited. Acess to the communities is either by foot or dirt roads. Population sizes range from 120 – 900 people corresponding to 30 – 95 families.
We started working with two families from two different communities. We now work with twenty different families from those communities and have incorporated project bonds with other seven communities upon request from community leaders. For every llama breeding family that participates in the project, at least two other families benefit by either selling their textiles, providing meals or assisting in the trek.
If one family works during nine days per month, every month, providing llama trek services, they would have enough income and skills to get out of their poverty condition and have enough weeks left to participate in all their community tasks.
Our efforts and actions are possible thanks to the solid combination of our nonprofit aimed at providing multidisciplinary sustainable education, and our social venture aimed at facilitating access of rural communities to tourism industry through inclusion, fair working conditions, long term networking and continuous skill building and sustainable tourism practices.
To make this opportunity a reality we have worked with community members in different areas to create:
We always work with the approval of the community leaders after presenting the Llama Pack Project in community assembly.
Llama Breeding Families
We work with the Llama Breeding families that want to be part of the project and cooperate with other families that wish to collaborate in the project.
We have partnered with community schools to promote environmental awareness and general education needs, to make this project a long-term sustainable initiative.
All the interpreters that are part of the team work not only as guides for the llama treks but actively participate in the community skill building workshops and other project activities.
We are both Peruvian social communicators with backgrounds in cultural and identity project management and masters in conservation area management.