Thanks to their calm and gentle nature, llamas make great trekking companions and, contrary to rumour, they don't spit!
These unique animals – well-used to working for humans – are not for riding, but they have no trouble carrying all your equipment and picnic supplies in bespoke panniers and saddlebags, so you can enjoy a relaxing day out.
There has been a huge increase in recent years in the number of centres offering anything from short walks with llamas (and indeed, alpacas too) to day-long treks with llamas. But, how can you be sure that the animal's welfare has been properly considered before being asked to accompany you across the countryside?
In response to concerns raised by the British Llama Society (BLS), the British Alpaca Society (BAS) and members of the public alike, representatives from the BLS and BAS got together in 2018, to draft a set of guidelines for members to sign up to, in an attempt to demonstrate they are keen to follow good practice, putting the welfare of their animals over and above financial gain. The following trekking businesses have all signed the BLS/BAS Trekking Code.
What are the benefits of trekking with a centre that have signed the Trekking Code?
The idea behind the guidelines is that anybody who operates a llama and/or alpaca walking or trekking venture; whether this be in a commercial or a non-commercial manner, should consider their methods of operation under 4 key areas. These are grouped as:
•GENERAL GOOD PRACTICE
Meeting the basic requirements such as HSE legislation, insurance, and biosecurity. Consultation with Local Authority regards any appropriate Welfare Licence.
•ROUTE GOOD PRACTICE
Ensuring relevant permissions obtained from land owners. Planning and risk assessed the route(s) and maintaining respect for the environment whilst abiding by Countryside Code.
•PUBLIC/CLIENT/LLAMA HEALTH & SAFETY GOOD PRACTICE
Demonstrating a duty of care towards your clients, the public and of course your animals.
•LLAMA AND ALPACA WELFARE
Ensuring welfare is considered above income and demonstrate good care both on the premises and whilst out walking.