Not many travellers arrive at Juliaca Airport without heading straight to Lake Titicaca, but this time was to be an exception. We were on our way to another attraction of the Peruvian Altiplano: Hacienda Mallkini, an extensive ranch where Alpacas are raised to produce the most exquisite quality of wool, used to make all manner of different types of garment.
Hacienda Mallkini by Lake Titicaca
After a journey through the stunning, flat green landscapes that permeate the region, we arrived at the hacienda. The lodge where we were staying was nestled at over 4000 metres above sea level and situated on a slope overlooking the village of Nequeneque. The spot was blessed with was a fantastic view of the plains stretching off into the distance.
Our base for the next two days, we were delighted to find that the lodge was extremely cosy, and, as could be expected, adorned with soft Alpaca wool at every turn. Our rooms were insulated with Alpaca carpets while blankets made from baby Alpaca were at hand to protect us from the cold Andean nights. There was also a wood burning stove in the corner, with a fresh supply of logs from the nearby copse. But we weren’t to indulge in the comforts of Mallkini just yet, and after dumping our luggage and a quick lunch we headed out on a tour of the estate.
The Hacienda Mallkini Estate
Covering 3,000 hectares and populated with more than 2,000 Alpacas, the hacienda is the largest private Alpaca centre in Peru. The mission of Mallkini, our guide Moises explained, is to improve the quality of Alpaca fibre, which is achieved by selecting the finest Alpacas in the Peruvian Andes and working on breeding techniques, nutrition and reproduction. The Alpacas themselves confidently patrol the raw and brash terrain in herds, unphased by climbing steep slopes and grazing on natural vegetation.
As night drew in we were treated to a light-show from the skies: thunderstorms in this area are quite common, and with the orange glow of the setting sun offset by the dark clouds protruding streaks of fork lightning, we were quite pleased to return to the lodge to warm up. And warm up we did, our first dinner consisted of tasty cream of asparagus soup followed by fried trout with vegetables and garlic sauce.
Horse-riding in the Altiplano
Our second day saw us mounting a pair of horses and continuing to explore the extensive grounds of the hacienda. We crossed a river before heading on to higher climbs for yet more spectacular views of the sweeping plains, and joined the Alpacas once again.
After returning to the lodge for lunch, we took a trip to the bottom of a gorge to see a waterfall, and afterwards we visited the laboratories where the Alpacas are sheared. This is also where research on Alpaca genetics and breeding are conducted.
We then returned for one final evening at the lodge, where we were lucky enough to be able to see the stars, the storm clouds from the previous day having cleared. And in the morning, after breakfast, we packed our bags before returning to Juliaca airport to fly back to Lima.
Visiting Hacienda Mallkini
For anyone with any detailed interest in Alpacas, Alpaca fibre or Alpaca breeding, Hacienda Mallkini is an essential visit, with workshops and field trips available. Tying in well with trips to Lake Titicaca, it is also a wonderful experience for anyone interested in adventure, hiking, horseback riding … or those just wanting to disconnect and get away from it all.
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