By Elizabeth Preske
August 19, 2019
Credit: Courtesy of Belmond

With approximately 3.5 to 4 million alpacas in South America (95% of them living in the south of Peru), you can be sure to see an abundance of the furry creatures on your next trip to Machu Picchu. And Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado wants to make sure you get to interact with the country's unofficial national animal in the safest way possible.

Located in the Sacred Valley, the luxury hotel is home to a few baby alpacas. The best part? You can feed them.

That's right. Every day at 8:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M., Belmond guests can make their way to the gardens in front of El Huerto, the hotel restaurant, and nourish the adorable baby alpacas with herbs, grass, flowers, and lactose-free milk.

Credit: Courtesy of Belmond

Born in Willoq, an Andean community 48 miles outside of Cusco, the newborn animals are sent to the Belmond to be raised. Alpacas are highly prized for their wool, which is used for textiles such as woven blankets, hats, and sweaters. Since they are naturally skittish, the crias become more comfortable around humans when they are in constant contact with them at the hotel — essential for future shearing. After hosting them for about a year, the Belmond returns the alpacas to their community in exchange for the next generation.

The feedings are led by Belmond gardeners Goyo and Gandy. During the activity, Goyo and Gandy — who care for the crias — teach the guests about them, including what their names mean in English, what they like to eat, and where they are from.

If you miss the feedings, don't worry: you haven't missed your chance to hang out with the alpacas. While they are kept in a pen behind the pool, you may find them roaming around the gardens, where you are free to hang out with them.

Credit: Courtesy of Belmond
Credit: Courtesy of Belmond

Haven’t had your fill of alpacas? Try hiking Macchu Picchu via the Lares Trail, where you are bound to see plenty of the furry creatures, along with llamas and traditional Inca stone buildings. Or, if an international trip isn’t in the cards this year, you can also book a stay at the “alpaca treehouse” in Atlanta, Georgia.

Room prices at Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado vary by travel date.