You’re strolling through the streets of Cusco, or perhaps visiting Machu Picchu, and your mission is to take a selfie with a cute llama. But you see, llamas aren’t the only camelids that you’ll find in the mountain region of Peru. You encounter alpacas too!
To help you distinguish which is which, we’ve outlined some clues so that you’ll know if you’re in the presence of a llama or alpaca.
The first thing one notices when seeing an alpaca and a llama is their size difference. Llamas are taller than alpacas at 42 to 46 inches while alpacas measure in at 34 to 36 inches tops.
An alpaca walks the streets of Cusco with its owner.
Photo by Ana Castañeda/Peru for Less
The weight difference between these two animals is more impressive since llamas can get as massive as 400 pounds. That’s a lot compared to a 150-pound alpaca.
Face & Ears
Llamas have elongated, banana-shaped ears and a long face to match.
Alpacas, on the other hand, have round faces with really short ears. With their more soft features, many people consider them a little bit cuter than llamas.
When it comes to textiles, alpaca is king, as they produce a much finer fiber than llamas, and its wool is usually used for fleece production. A lot of garments and clothes you can buy in Cusco are from alpaca wool. There is a more luxurious wool made from baby alpaca that we recommend due to its soft and durable fiber. The hair of alpacas can vary from white to lighter tones of yellow and brown.
In contrast, llamas are usually one-colored and grow more coarse hair. Llama’s wool is not the best because they are larger animals that have been bred mostly to be a pack-carrying animal. This ancient purpose goes back to the Inca Empire.