Llama on the Loose; Machu Picchu, Peru
This diminutive creature lives in one of the most magnificent homes on earth. He (or she – I’m not really sure) is a young llama that is part of a herd that roams wild at the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, high in the Andes Mountains in Peru.
I encountered this llama while exploring the ruins of what used to be a thriving city. Machu Picchu was built around 1450 at the height of the Inca Empire. It was abandoned by the Incas 100 years later and wasn’t rediscovered by the outside world until 1911. Llamas, which are South American cousins of the camel, have been used as pack animals for centuries by Andean dwellers. They also are a source of meat and wool.
In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” in a global Internet poll. It’s hard to disagree.
I found it to be one of the most breathtaking places on Earth. Literally. Machu Picchu is nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, an elevation that takes getting used to. I was short of breath and had a constant headache.
But these relatively minor maladies were well worth the payoff – a chance to view a well-preserved ancient city with a spectacular backdrop.
And seeing some wildlife – like this little llama – was an unexpected treat.
Copyright © Dan Fellner 2013