“ I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor.” Steven Spielberg.

An Animal Encounter at Lydford Gorge Alpacas – what’s it all about?

I often get asked ‘how close can I get to the alpacas’? Well the answer to that is as close as you like if you book an Animal Encounter, right from when you get your welcome kiss from Macca Paca (there will be many and he even does them on request). If you expect a high level of interaction, fun and some relaxation thrown in you will not be disappointed.

We start the experience off with feeding the alpaca boys some tasty treats, anything from carrots to grapes to bananas (mostly for Barney). This part we do behind a small barrier but only because it’s more comfortable, otherwise you have 12 giant meerkats quarrelling over who gets what. Now you’ve had time to get used to and acquainted with these curious and not very shy boys, it’s time to come join them in the paddock – don’t worry as for those more nervous folk there is a fenced area you can still enjoy the animals from. I have never failed yet though, to gently encourage each and every person whatever their needs to get in direct contact with these animals whilst knowing how to stay safe.

What comes next depends entirely on the weather and the animals – the alpaca carwash is one of the most popular activities anytime from early Spring and the boys will literally start queuing as soon as they see you pick up the hose. Expect a constant stream of customers, funny water dances and a whole lot of pushing in. They then like to check themselves out in their mirror which of course you will be holding up and angling for them so that they can see every side. Yes, you are now an alpaca servant! Once all that posing is done the hay bags come out and the boys enter into a state of calm and relaxation with some sitting down at your feet. You can sit right in with some of them, a great time to get those special photos and quirky selfies.

Or perhaps a bit of a cuddle is more your thing? I have Mr Sharps (the quirkiest alpaca around) and Snowball (everyone’s favourite sheep) lined up to fulfil that dream. Snowball though, will happily take your whole hour and encourage you to sit with him. I really should start a special Snowball only experience.

When I started Lydford Gorge Alpacas I wanted to make these beautiful animals accessible to as many people as possible because they have such an effect on everyone who meets them. That’s why I have now reduced the minimum number of people required for this private animal experience to just two! At a time when prices are spiralling ever higher, I wanted to go the opposite way and open up this magical experience to even more people, school holidays included. We all need a bit of laughter and good times in our lives right now so why not start with Bubbles, Mr T, Jasper and the crew? This is an experience for everyone no matter your age, ability or needs and now group size.

What if it’s raining? Then we just alpaca our bags, move inside to the alpaca house and the animals will be right there with us as they don’t like the rain much either. I have been asked a few times if I can arrange for this type of weather as it is such a cosy and peaceful hour. I’ll have to try and get Batman to do his water dance for that one!

To find out more go to www.lydfordgorgealpacas.com