By Theresa G. Medoff
All photos by Theresa G. Medoff
Johanna Karcher, 10, had a choice to make: did she want to spend the day at the beach, or go for a walk with a llama? She chose the llama.
“I just like animals in general, and I like being outside,” Johanna said after the two-hour experience at Second Wind Llama Adventures in central New Jersey. “It was a lot of fun to bond with the animals and get to know them. They’re super sweet.”
Johanna, who lives in Indiana, was visiting her grandmother Kim DiMezza in Pennsylvania when the two decided to visit Second Wind Llama Adventures. DiMezza loved the llama walk as much as her granddaughter did. “It made me feel very calm, very relaxed.… It’s just such a nice Zen feeling. If you like to meditate, it’s a good activity because you can be aware of the llama, be aware of your surroundings, aware of yourself.”
What, exactly, is llama walking? It’s pretty much like walking a dog—but a very large, very calm dog that looks at you from about head height with big soulful eyes. You lead the harnessed llama gently by a rope as you walk through a scenic outdoor setting. At Second Wind Llama Adventures, that means a leisurely 90-minute, one-and-a-half-mile stroll in Colliers Mill Wildlife Management Area on sandy paths that wend through pine forest to a lake. The wildlife area is nearly adjacent to Second Wind Farm, the three-and-a-half-acre farmette owned and run by Bev Vienckowski.
Oh, and you’re probably wondering about the spitting. “Llamas usually only spit at other llamas, and it has a lot to do with hierarchy in their herd,” says Vienckowski. “I’ve had thousands of visitors here in the last five years of doing these walks, and no one has ever been spit on. Llamas don’t kick. They don’t bite. The most annoying thing they do on a walk is eat.”
Vienckowski currently owns five llamas, but she plans to add two more because the walks are becoming so popular. She believes she’s one of a small group of farms that offer a llama walk experience. A Google search turns up llama or alpaca walks in Connecticut, California, New York, Virginia and Texas as well as many such opportunities in the United Kingdom.
“As I did research on llamas, I just got more and more connected to the healing aspect that they have in our busy times,” Vienckowski says. “Any animal, if you walk into a farm—whether it’s horses, goats or whatever—you become present because they live in the present and they react to your energy in the present. I do the llama walks to offer a healing experience.”
What: Second Wind Llama Adventures
Where: 256 East Colliers Mill Road, New Egypt, New Jersey
When: Two Llama Walks a day are offered Saturdays and Sundays from Labor Day through Memorial Day. Walks are not offered in the summer. Note that Llama Walks at Second Wind are already booked through December. See below for other options.
How much: Meet the Llamas (half-hour visit): $10/person; Llama Walk (two-hour visit and walk): $35 per person, per llama with optional second person per llama for $15.
For more information: secondwindllamas.com or 609/286-2521
Other Llama Farms:
Country Quilt Llama Farm, Cornwall, Connecticut, countryquiltllamafarm.com, 860/248-0355
Clover Brooke Farm, Hyde Park, New York, cloverbrookefarm.com, 845/444-6066
Dakota Ridge Farm, Ballston Spa, New York, dakotaridgefarm.com, 518/885-0756
Twin Creeks Llamas, Browntown, Virginia, twincreeksllamas.com, 540/631-9175
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2019 edition of AAA World.