Part 2 of NHA blogger Jayme Otto’s recent Amazon and Machu Picchu adventure.


Master weaver Maria, her son Jeremy and me.

As traveler, it’s always inspiring to find meaningful ways to interact with locals. And encountering a group of indigenous people who’ve connected with tourism in a way that’s both positive and sustainable for their community is truly a treat. I was lucky enough to find just that recently in Peru.

Not far from Cusco, just outside the village of Pisac, awaits Awana Kancha, a Quechua word that loosely translates as “palace of weaving”. Here, you’ll meet members from three species in the cameloid family – llamas, alpacas and vicunas along with representatives from the 420+ native families who devote their lives to the ancestral process of weaving.

You’re encouraged to step into the fields and hand feed herbs and grasses to the fuzzy beasts, whose dainty steps, long eyelashes and quirky smiles make them irresistible to both you and your camera lens. Take a moment to walk through the display showing how the men transform fur into naturally dyed yarn, and then observe female Andean weavers at work. Your excursion ends in an elegant gift shop, with multiple rooms housing treasures ranging from handicrafts to haute couture.

amazon and macchu pichu alpaca

Michael and Carolyn Kordsmeier from Florida enjoy their first alpaca encounter.

I hope you’ll enjoy this photo journal from my experience. My favorite part was when I found out that Awana Kancha is completely self-sustaining; there is no government or NGO involvement.

The 14 communities that participate are deemed “peasants” in our terms because they live simply, and without formal education. But the members of the 420+ families are master craftsmen, practicing an art that takes generations to perfect.


A statuesque breed of Alpaca called a suri.



A young alpaca munches on fresh herbs.


Traditional rugs Macchu Pichu

Traditional handicrafts.


alpaca jacket peru

Haute couture.


Weaver at work Peru

A weaver at work on a tapestry – each row has a different meaning,
ranging from peace to fertility.



The aforementioned irresistible smile!


Jayme Otto stuffed alpaca

A souvenir I couldn’t resist – a baby alpaca
made from baby alpaca fur.