What defines a mid life crisis?
Well, probably secretly booking up a 90 minute session to walk a South American camelid as a Mothers Day treat to yourself!
Technically I blame my sister, she put me onto it but I needed
little no persuasion.
We booked via Groupon…oh we do love a deal…and grabbed the coupon code. The decision was made to book for Sat 30th March and as we’re both mums, we thought that there was no better way to spend Mothers Day weekend than enjoying half of it child free…hurraahh!
Our 90 minute alpaca experience:
‘Alpaca walking is great for those of you wishing to try an activity of a different nature that takes you away from the hectic hustle and bustle of urban life. Enjoy ninety minutes with our delightful alpacas and take some alpaca “zen” home for free.’
Our booking was with Charnwood Forest Alpacas and we arrived for our session in a cloud of excitement (me) and nervous energy (my sister) but in a timely manner. It is advised to arrive approximately 30 minutes before your experience is due to start.
On arrival we booked in and were given coloured wristbands for our session, and it was suggested that we purchased food pellets for the VERY GREEDY alpacas.We got one bag each and headed to the on site Chilli Bean Kitchen to grab a couple of coffees.
We sat on a picnic bench outside in the courtyard, and enjoyed the caffeine and the type of tranquility that only NOT having one of your offspring hanging off your arm can truly achieve.While chatting we decided that on reflection the very helpful staff member in the PukkaPaca shop had really emphasised the greediness of the alpacas and we bought two more bags of food each, you know just to be safe…incase our alpacas should be starving and have to resort to going full on carnivore and attack in order to quell their appetite!
Before our alpaca trek could begin, we were taken into a barn for a H&S meets ‘alpacas for beginners’ style briefing…which was a bit of a lifesaver in regards to understanding our (ok, mostly my) alpaca behaviour but more on that later!
Some interesting facts that I learned by visiting Charnwood Forest Alpacas:
1. Just like an alligator is not a crocodile, a dolphin is not a porpoise, and a whale is not a fish, an alpaca is NOT a llama. Yep, they’re related but they’re not the same thing!
2. Alpacas come in two varieties, one being the short and fuzzy huacaya and the other are the longer almost dreadlocked suri alpaca. The alpacas we met were huacaya.
3. The picture below shows how huacaya alpacas are made: mother nature simply crossed a camel, with a labradoodle and hey presto gave us the huacaya alpaca!
4. Number 3 is not true, but you can see where I’m coming from! They are very cute.
5. Alpacas are very sociable animals and have their own alpaca friends within the hierarchy of the herd.
6. Alpacas have 4 big teeth at the front of their jaws which they use to scoop up their food.
Briefing over, we were taken outside to the pens to meet our alpacas. We were going to be walking last years females. I was handed the lead of a brown beauty named ‘Bed of Roses’ and my sister was given white ‘Belle’.
We waited for the rest of the group (a great demographic mix) to collect their alpaca friends and were looking forward to a gentle stroll while chatting and generally catching up on life. Our camelid companions however, had VERY different ideas.
The route for the trek was a little bumpy underfoot but it was easy walking and took in a couple of gentle inclines, just make sure that you wear sensible footwear, trainers are fine for dry weather and I suggest walking boots or wellies for wet weather.
We set off, gently walking our alpacas on a loose lead and giving them lots of encouragement to keep walking despite being surrounded by tasty grass.
I soon learned that Bed of Roses was a born ‘leader’ and she basically decided she was going to walk at the front of the group with her alpaca chum. There was a fair bit of overtaking and me getting tangled up in other peoples leads but she eventually made it to the front, and stayed there. Meanwhile ‘Belle’ was a much more sedentary creature and ambled along happily at the back with my sister, occasionally stopping to munch on some grass. So much for the sibling bonding session eh?Actually, this was no bad thing! It gave me the opportunity to chat to new people and I really enjoyed it, the animals and their personalities make for a great ice-breaker!
At the designated halfway point we were given ample time to feed the alpacas and take some great selfies too.
Incase you were wondering, we got through nearly all of the food pellets we had purchased…alpacas really are greedy things and were more than happy to ditch their ‘walking companion’ if there was food on offer elsewhere…again, this was a great chance for a 5 minute chat to some of the other members of the group.
Along the route we passed the stud alpacas and there was a lot of alpaca flirting going on…it was great to see some of their natural behaviour in action. Bed of Roses became a bit frisky when we passed, she tried to veer in their direction and reared up onto her hind legs when I wouldn’t let her. The young studs strutted over towards the fence like a group of over excited teenagers. I also found out Bed of Roses isn’t a fan of sheep as when one baa’d she bolted towards the front of the group again. They really are little characters.
Our 90 minutes passed quickly and before we knew it we were back in the farm yard and saying goodbye to our alpaca friends. We had both had an amazing time. The sheer uniqueness of the walk coupled with bonding with these beautiful animals on a lovely sunny day was just great fun, and a million miles away from our role as mums at home. Also, alpacas make the most adorable noise, which came as quite a surprise as I had no idea what noise they made.
We ended our experience with a lovely lunch in Chilli Bean Kitchen, which is when we noticed the set up for the Sparkling (Prosecco) Afternoon Tea Experience….definitely one to remember for next time, and I honestly think I will be going back!
A 90 minute Alpaca Experience is priced from £35.
The Sparkling Afternoon Tea and Alpaca Walk is priced from £49.
We chose not to take our children along on this occasion, however the alpaca walks are suitable for children over 5 years of age.
All the above thoughts and opinions are my own and so too are all images unless otherwise credited.