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I've seen people on multi-day hikes with a llama, and the llama seems docile and easily led. It seems too good to be true. I would never go out with a mule or a horse on my own. If my husband and I went on a short (two or three day) trip with a llama handler would we learn enough to go on a longer trip on our own? (We really don't want to go with a group.)

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    I suppose this may depend on how muh the handler chooses to teach you, one trip may not be enough. – Aravona Aug 1 '15 at 16:35
  • @Aravona I think you are right. The only thing to do is to contact llama packers (if that is what they are called) in the area(s) I am interested in, and see what they offer. – ab2 Aug 3 '15 at 13:41
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    Where do you plan on getting your own llama? I don't imagine many people would be willing to trust you with their animals on your own. – ShemSeger Aug 3 '15 at 16:08
  • @ShemSeger: My question asked about the amount of experience we would need before we could trust ourselves -- or a llama packer could trust us -- to go on our own. Clearly we would have to build a relationship with a llama packer or in some other way demonstrate competence before anyone would entrust us with a llama -- or any living creature. If the question had been about a horse or mule, the answer would have been: "Forget it, unless you have years." Perhaps that is the answer for a llama, too. – ab2 Aug 4 '15 at 19:48
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    What do you call the person who loads a llama? An al-packer. – DJClayworth Dec 9 '16 at 19:25
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Yes.

Lots of farms rent llamas. Most require at minimum a 1/2 day "orientation" course in how to handle a llama. This includes things like the care and feeding of the animal, as well as how to pack the animal properly to keep the load manageable and balanced. An overnight with a handler would be more than sufficient to give you the skills you need.

Llamas are more suited for 'novice' packers than a horse. Mostly, if a llama does get a wild hair and freak out, it won't kill you (but it still might run off with your tent.)

IS llama packing "too good to be true"?

Pros:

  • less weight on your back
  • another "fun" dynamic on the trip (llamas can be quite personable)
  • low impact (compared to horses as pack animals): toes diffuse the weight rather than dig into the soil like horseshoes. Llamas are browsers, nibbling lots of plants rather than eating one patch down to the ground. Llama pellets tend to be less offensive to hikers than horse apples.

Cons:

  • You have something else to take care of during your trip (hassle)
  • Llamas can be stubborn, and just sit in the middle of the trail far from your destination (kushing) - good luck getting them up again (a lot of this depends on the training they've received)
  • They can go many places, but can't go everywhere, limiting your route options
  • Many horses freak out if they meet a llama, and can cause wreaks in heavy horse-use areas where llamas are unfamiliar
  • Transporting the llama requires a trailer or an additional fee from the renter
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