It’s not everyday that you can say you’ve taken an alpaca for a walk! Take a look at the wonderful experience I had at Hensting Alpacas in Brambridge, Eastleigh. And yes, of course, there’s A LOT of cute alpaca pictures.
Well alpaca-your-bags and come with me now an a little fluffy adventure! The miserable December weather held off for a morning so I was able to enjoy the alpaca walking experience gifted to me for my birthday from my absolute darling of a friend, Hannah. One of my best friends Emily also was given this gift so we could enjoy the walk together, it was a lovely morning to share.
I’m a total sucker for animals, cute things and new experiences so this could not have been more up my street!
We headed to the fields nice and early one Sunday morning and saw herons and pheasants as we drove through the glorious Hampshire countryside. It was one of those mornings where we had a frost for the first time so steam was rising off the rivers making it look all misty and ethereal.
We arrived at Brambridge and parked up while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive. The session started with disinfecting our shoes followed by mulled wine and a talk all about alpacas, their heritage, habits and behaviours – it was really informative and I learnt so much. Did you know a baby alpaca is called a cria and that their mothers carry them for around 11 months? I didn’t! And, alpaca hair grows in a crimped wave so it naturally keeps the rain out and the animals stay warm, dry and happy.
After the alpacas had breakfast we were lined up and each given an alpaca to share between two and then it was off on the walk. We were given a bit of guidance on how to hold the leads and what to do to keep the alpacas safe and happy. We were also advised on the toilet habits, and when one goes, you all have to stop as that generally means the rest of the herd will go too- community loo breaks- hilarious!
Along with 50 alpacas there is one llama called Primrose, a New Forest Pony called Brin and two sheep called Arthur and Ken.
We walked down by the river in Eastleigh and it’s a particularly beautiful part of the county where the River Itchen splits into two and runs parallel to each other. You can see both at one time and it’s surrounded by lots of lush countryside.
Our first alpaca was Walter who was very well behaved was a real handsome devil, long white hair and was a bit of a pro. When we swapped over at half time we had Pascoe from Peru and named after one of the cities. He was a lot more feisty and we definitely had to walk at his pace which was quite a lot slower than the rest of the herd, there was no hurrying this alpaca! 😂
Each one had such different characters and some were so cheeky like Mojito (another alpaca) who tried to muscle in on Pascoe’s snacks.
I really liked touching their fur, I couldn’t believe how soaking wet it was on the outside and if you brushed the top layer aside there was an inch of thick dry fur keeping the alpacas warm. In Peru alpacas are used to minus 25 conditions so England is positively balmy for them and they enjoy the climate, even the driving rain!
The team were great at taking photos and making sure we were all safe and looked after and after walking two alpacas we returned them to the pens.
I thought it was over at this stage but they had another surprise for us. We had walked all the male alpacas as they get a bit frisky with the females when in a mixed group.
All the females, who were mostly pregnant, were in a field during the walk enjoying some hay and a lazy start to the day licking the frozen puddles of water and having a bit of frolic.
We all had to line up and they put food in our hands and it was like the females knew exactly what was going on. We were at one end of the field and they had lined up at the top gate to come and see us – it was quite clearly snack time. With pellets in our hand we were told to keep a strong line and our hands out flat – oh and not to worry as the alpacas would stop. Stop? Stop what? Oh dear…what was going to happen?!
Next thing we knew, they opened the gate and unleashed the female alpacas! Alpacas can reach speeds of 30 miles an hour and these pregnant females and their crias knew we were their meal ticket. The female herd came at us across the field, charging at pace, bounding over looking for a hand full of pellets to munch. And, yes, thankfully they did stop despite the sprint they had on!
What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday! Thanks Hannah for a birthday present that really will truly be hard to top.
If you like the sound of this experience, it really is a cracking gift, head over to the Hensting Alpacas website to look at booking an alpaca walk or one of their other experiences.