Lonely Planet Writer

Trek with llamas to a special al fresco lunch at this Colorado retreat

There’s nothing quite like going for a hike when the weather is good, whether it’s taking an exploratory amble along new coastal routes or tackling a tough trail. But for visitors to Colorado looking for an outdoor experience with some unique company, they now have the option of taking a llama along for the journey, before sitting down to an al fresco lunch with the animal.

The experience sees guests taking part in a special trek accompanied by llamas. Image by Paragon Guides

Created by Paragon Guides, a Vail-based outdoor adventure company that operates specially-tailored experiences throughout the year, the Take a Llama to Lunch package comes in three different options, allowing guests to choose between a hike in the Arrowhead ski area or a local backcountry US Forest Services trail, while a special wine and cheese pairing is also on offer.

Guests enjoy a special al fresco experience, and can even choose a wine and cheese tasting option. Image by Paragon Guides

Despite the fact that llamas do not like to be ridden by humans, the animals make perfect trail companions, given their ability to carry up to 80 pounds, and their natural hardiness inspired the idea to launch the llama lunch experience. “We began llama-trekking when our owner’s family grew to the point that it was a lot of stuff to go camping, and Dad had to end up carrying everything. He knew some folks with llamas for packing and gave it a try. They were all hooked on the lightened load and the gentle personalities of their llama companions. Creating the Take a Llama to Lunch hike was a way to introduce the llamas to folks and get a taste of what llamas can assist with on a longer camping or hut trip,” Karen Peck of Paragon Guides told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Llamas make perfect trek companions, but prefer not to be ridden by humans. Image by Paragon Guides

Guests usually take part in a four-hour hike, with the mileage being adjustable depending on the group. As the animals carry a special picnic lunch that includes snacks and water, the guides, all of which are naturalists, share the history of the area.

Local guides outline the history of the area while guests enjoy the trails. Image by Paragon Guides

“Families love the hikes and grown up groups tend to book the Wine & Cheese option. Many folks return each summer to get their llama fix,” Karen said. Prices start at $415 (€335) for the first two people, with the price dropping to $89 or $79 for each additional person, depending on the size of the group.

More information on Paragon Guides experiences, including the Take a Llama to Lunch trek, is available at the official website.