About Alpacas

Lama Vicuna Guanaco

Alpacas (specie: vicugna pacos) belong to the family of the South American Camelids. The other family members are the wild vicunjas and guanacos and the domesticated, “beast of burden” the llama. All family members can interbreed and have fertile offspring.

The mix of male llama and female alpaca is called “Huarizo”. Alpacas come in two different fleece types, the Huacaya and the Suri. Huacaya alpacas produce a dense, soft, crimpy sheep-like fibre, and the Suri produces silky pencil-like locks, resembling dread-locks. Alpacas were domesticated by the Incas 6000 years ago.

While the llama was mainly used to carry goods in the mountains, the alpaca was bred for its fibre. Clothes from alpaca fibre were a sign of wealth. The ruling king had garments made from Vicunja, the finest and most valuable fleece of all.

After the intrusion of the Spanish conquistadores, sheep were brought into South America and the Indios with their Alpacas were more and more pushed onto the level heights of the Andes. As the Indios with their ancient history and culture were destroyed, so were the alpacas. Only recently the true value of the Alpaca and its fibre was rediscovered, leading to their export to the US, to England and Australia.

The worldwide population is estimated about 4 Millions, with the highest concentration still in Peru. Fine Alpaca fibre has become a sought after product in the Fashion industry.