Expert Interview with Catanger Llama Trekking
A brand new and completely unique experience, Llama Trekking is now available for animal lovers in Northamptonshire! Because it’s the only experience of its kind, I wanted to find out just what makes this trek so special, so I caught up with Sarah about how the business developed, and what plans they have for the future.
1) Please explain your journey as ‘Catanger Llama Trekking’ so far.
After studying Zoology and working for years on an intensive, commercial and nucleus pig farm I was ready for a change of direction and wanted to move nearer my family. I knew I would only be happy working with animals still but was a little concerned that my options may be limited. I did start to apply to be an RSPCA inspector, which had always interested me, I also wrote to various animal related places on spec, and Catanger Llamas was one of those places.
At first Mary (owner of Catanger Llama Farm) said there were no jobs available, but it just so happened that my CV coincided with the week she was starting to consider taking a step back from the trekking, and possibly leasing the business. As I had spent a few years working with people (sales and otherwise) before my pig farming and studies, she decided I had enough experience with people and animals to be of interest to the business; so started my journey with Llamas.
The first couple of months at Catanger Llama Farm were spent learning from Mary about the history of llamas and the present day care, getting to know the individual llamas and their quirky characters. Mary has a wealth of information stored away, I learnt so much. Body language is an important part of the communication with llamas, and I had to learn where to stand in order to encourage them to go in a certain direction, and stand still to be haltered. We use key words with them and as each llama has a very different character there is a lot of psychology involved in training them. As we give an informative llama talk and instruction on handling at the beginning of every trek to our visitors, I needed to be confident in my new knowledge in order to impart all this information to them.
I have now nearly been llama trekking for a year and can safely say that every day is different and no day is dull! I have met some fascinating people that come trekking with us and the llamas are a complete joy to work with every day. The year 2014 is set to be an exciting one, watching last year’s babies; Ollie, Lady Penelope, Quinn, Ryan and Sweetie Pie grow into lovely big strong trekkers, the arrival of more newborn’s in the Spring and I look forward to imparting my knowledge of these wonderful animals and welcoming more trekkers to Catanger Farm for their all-round llama experience.
2) What differentiates your company from others?
Catanger Llama Trekking is a unique and unforgettable venue to visit and no trek is ever the same… The llamas make sure of that! Everyone that visits is able to meet the mothers and their babies, take a souvenir of their experience home from our ‘Llamarabilia’ gift shop; whether it be a llama key ring or a hat made from the fibre of the llama they have just got to know on their trek. We make sure that everyone gets the most out of their experience, everyone is welcomed to stay before or after their trek to picnic at the farm, enjoy watching babies play or even walk around our 20 acre woodland. Many lucky customers even have been blessed with even seeing a birth at the farm!
3) Is there any inside information you can give us?
I have learnt a great deal over the last 12 months from Mary and Catanger Llamas can cater for most ages and abilities. We have a group of learning disabled adults who come every week and we even take our llamas out to old people’s homes etc. They make friends wherever they go. Each trek is preceded by half an hour of llama info and instruction on handling/leading so everyone will get the most out of their llama experience. We use our llama fibre to make wonderful funky llama hats and wool for knitting, plus several other South American and llama related goods in our ‘Llamarabilia’ which is also our fibre studio, perfect for when we have our educational visits. We are also a breeding farm so during the spring and summer months our crias (baby llamas) arrive and they are the most adorable babies around. All this is open to our trekking customers.
4) Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you’d like to tell us about?
This year is set to be a very exciting year for Catanger Llamas, we plan on using our visitors centre to its full potential. Really going to town on llama parties, corporate entertaining, meetings and educational visits for all ages, we even cater for nursery children! We also have lots of special events happening, so watch out for all of these on our website www.llamatrekking.co.uk
5) What would you say is your most frequently asked question?
The most frequently asked question I would say would be ‘When can we going trekking?’ The answer to this is… ‘Whenever you like’! We are not a seasonal business, we are open all year round and can trek any day. So book now for your unforgettable day out in 2014!
Any other information you’d like to add?
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Huge thanks to Sarah for talking to me and providing all this fascinating information – love the idea of a llama party!