During my travels through South America I fell in love with these animals – alpacas. Who can resist them? I certainly can’t. Their big, wide eyes, their fluffy fur, their curious gazes and the way they waddle along. It was love at first sight for me.
Back home I went looking for my holiday love – and found it at the Alpaca-Alm, on the Kitzsteingut in Wagrain. Bernhard Maurer is a passionate alpaca breeder. He took over the farm from his parents and switched from dairy cows to alpacas – quite uncommon in Wagrain. I probe deeper: “I fell in love with these animals. The alpacas are ideal for my farm – as the Kitzsteingut is a farm in Zone 4. That means, due its steepness and location it is not easy to farm. Alpacas are particularly light-footed animals. They are used to mountainous areas and they are ideally suited to steep pastures. Cold and snowy winters are also not a problem for them.” These creatures resembling cuddly toys feel right at home on the Alpaca Alm. They chomp on the lush grass and survey the view over Wagrain-Kleinarl.
Cuddly-soft wool and soft products
Bernhard eagerly shows us his alpaca wool products. And yes, from my own experience I can safely say that they are just as soft as in South America. Bernhard shears the alpacas and washes the wool himself on the farm. Using a carding machine, he transforms it into fleece. Alpaca wool is very fine, hollow inside and probably the most important thing: it doesn’t scratch.
Blankets, cushions or felt products are made by hand. Particularly fine wool is used for knitting socks and hats. Bernhard Maurer also shows us shoe insoles made of alpaca felt and cute hand-knitted alpacas.
Walk with alpacas – leave stress behind
At last. We enter the barn, where the numerous male alpacas are milling around. Bernhard asks if everyone wants to lead an alpaca. Yes, of course. That’s why we’re here! (by the way: anyone can book an alpaca walk J) Ok, Bernhard puts a halter around each alpaca’s head and explains to us that we should walk on the right-hand side of them – as that’s what they’re used to. And then we’re off.
My Eros is quite greedy. He stops at every tree and every bush to enjoy the needles and branches. Merlin, my colleague’s alpaca rolls around on the hill. Maybe his back’s itching. And my other colleague’s alpaca is racing ahead, our greedy and itching animals can’t keep up. The view from up here is simply fantastic. But let’s be honest, I’m not really interested in that today. I’m busy with Eros. Simply enjoying nature. Far away from the hustle and bustle. Strolling alongside alpacas. Above fields and through woods we walk back to the Alpaca Alm, the Kitzsteingut. And as a special surprise Bernhard shows us the alpaca mums with their alpaca babies. Cuteness overload.
Photo credits: Wagrain-Kleinarl Tourismus