I’ve been trying to figure out what to get my friends and family this holiday and what better way to say “I love you” than with a llama? Enter: Andean trekking specialist Llama Expeditions who are inviting kindhearted adventure travelers to join owner Diane Valenti in gifting a llama to a deserving Peruvian family this holiday season.
Llama Expeditions offers a range of guided tours through Peru, from sightseeing and surfing to multi-day hikes along the Inca Trail. In addition to taking in the stunning scenery and experiencing true adventure, these tours also allow travelers to make a personal connection to the country and its people. Entrepreneur and outdoorswoman Diane Valenti hatched the idea for her company in 2008 over a home-cooked chicken dinner at close to 14,000 feet in the Peruvian Andes. She has been able to apply her over 20 years as a business consultant working with clients such as Genentech, Nike, and Starbucks Coffee Company to her enterprise that goes beyond just ordinary tourism. Offering full cultural immersion to give guests the opportunity to see how Peruvians live—to talk with them about their dreams and accomplishments and to learn about the challenges they face – are woven into the itinerary. In addition, participants also texperience the difference gifts of healthy food, school supplies, clothing, or sunglasses can make in the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.
The donation, valued at $150 per animal, is made possible through Heifer International, the organization that empowers people by providing animals that can make a difference in their livelihoods.
“To make the trek with llamas, the camel-like beasts of burden of the Incas, is to follow in the traditional steps of a great civilization in a way that leaves minimal impact on the land and a positive effect on a local family’s income,” says Llama Expeditions founder Diane Valenti.
The company is encouraging others to think about that person on their list that already has everything and to honor them with a gift of a llama ($150) or shares of a llama (at $20 per share) in their name this holiday.
To donate please go to: https://secure1.heifer.org/gift-catalog/llama.html.
Llamas help bring sustenance to families who care for them, providing transportation, rental income and wool for blankets, ponchos, carpets and rope. This year’s Heifer International catalog tells the story of a couple who now have a herd of 60 alpacas from their starter two. Each animal provides four pounds of wool, the proceeds of which are helping to educate the couple’s children.
How does this relate to Llama Expeditions? “The company fills the spot between responsible tourism and voluntourism,” said Valenti. “This is a real vacation for people who work hard and want a chance to relax. But it’s also a chance for culturally curious travelers to make a meaningful connection with the people and the land of Peru.” Guests are encouraged to “pay-it-forward” by contributing to a variety of local community development organizations.