Members of the South American camelid family, closely related to the llama, and more distantly related to the camels of Asia and Africa. They are roughly half the size of a llama and have a docile temperament. Alpaca are much smaller than llamas, and there are 2 basic types of alpaca classified by fleece character.
The Huacaya which has a sheep like wooliness and the Suri who’s fleece hangs in long spiral locks. There are 22 recognised natural shade of colour from whites, fawns, browns through to greys and black.Alpacas were bred over 6,000 years ago from the wild vicuna. Pre-dating even the Inca Empire, alpacas, and their cousin, the llama, were the only domesticated livestock in the New World before the arrival of the Europeans.
They were an integral part of the culture and lifestyle of their Andean caretakers, serving as a source of food, fuel, clothing and transportation. With the Spanish Conquest of the Incas came the almost total annihilation of the alpaca and llama, along with much of the human population. Bred to be survivors, these hardy camelids prevailed in the unforgiving conditions of the Altiplano.