The Hidden Llama Valley

Along the way towards Villamar Mallcu from Villa Alota, our guide and driver took us up this unknown dirt road that dead ended into a valley surrounded by rocks and with a verdant landscape.

It was unusual as most of the terrain we saw along the way was dry and arid, brown and desert like. This place was a hidden oasis where Llamas wandered throughout the valley. It was as we had found the Shangri-la of the Bolivian Altiplano.

We were to take a small hike to the lake that was tucked in the back. You wouldn’t have known it was there from the where we parked, so we walked along the strangely cut rock and enjoyed the Llamas in the late afternoon light.

This little Shangri-la was filled with animal and bird life. Along the rocks lived several Long-tailed Chinchillas, which is a critically endangered species found in the Andes Mountains.

We arrived to the black lake and floating within were some Andean Geese and some Andean Crested ducks. But we weren’t nearly done with discovering all of the wildlife this little valley held within.

I was walking a bit ahead of my friend and guide when I heard a high-pitched whistle coming from the left of me. At first thought I just assumed it was the guide calling ahead for me. But then I looked over and lo and behold – an Andean Fox !!! It started trotting across the open valley and stopped to look at me. After a few moments, he realized we weren’t a threat and continued on his path.

Our guide informed us that he had been visiting this secret valley for almost 20 years and had never seen an Andean Fox there before. It was to be our truly fortunate day to have the gift of seeing this charming fox.

And as he wandered off into the rocks, a Mama Llama and her Baby Llama kept a watchful eye on him to make sure he didn’t cause any trouble.

A wondrous place this little Shangri-la of the Altiplano was.

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