Who said you needed to travel to Machu Picchu to rent a llama? Starting this month and winding through June, Dakota Ridge Farm in Ballston Spa—just a 15-minute car ride from Saratoga Springs—will be offering its unique Llama Treks, during which small groups of visitors can lead one of the farm’s 55 llamas through 1.5 miles of woodland trails.
Nearly three decades ago, Gary Capasso and his wife, Katrina, founded Dakota Ridge Farm, when he gave her a llama named Dakota as a wedding gift. The Capassos now tend to more than 50 llamas on their 42-acre property, offering guests everything from farm tours and llama shearing demonstrations to pet therapy sessions, educational visits and llama rescue and rehoming practices—all in the name of educating the general public about the loving animals. But it’s the chance to actually take a llama out on the trail that gives guests the adventure of a lifetime. “We started doing the farm tours and llama treks while we were still working other jobs, mostly just on the weekends,” says Katrina. “The treks and tours became a big hit, as most of our visitors have never been around llamas.” Nowadays, the excursions have become so popular that the Capassos dedicate six months to the treks/tours in spring and fall. (Besides April-June, the farm also offers the treks from September to early November.)
According to Katrina, it’s the llamas’ gentle temperament and loving nature that keep visitors coming back for more. “They’re amazed at how friendly some of the llamas can be, coming up for back rubs or just to say hello and sniff you,” she says. “Even the most skeptical of visitors ends up hugging their llama and taking selfies [with them] by the time we get halfway through the walk.”
Interested in a little llama-leading? You can reserve a spot on one of the farm’s smallish private llama tours, which run $25 for adults and $15 for children 15 and under (group rates are also available). Feel free to bring your own snacks or lunch to eat at picnic tables along the trails. All said and done, the trek takes about one hour to complete, and is taken at a slow, easy pace, giving hikers plenty of time to bond with their llama. And if you leave the farm wanting more, it’s got you covered: You can buy a llama (or three) directly from Dakota Ridge.