Changing Planet

Patagonia’s Local Llamas: The Guanaco

An adult guanaco (Lama guanicoe). Photo by Ross Donihue and Marty Schnure.


Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue are cartographers in the field producing maps for the Future Patagonia National Park in the Aysén Region of Chile. For more information about the Future Patagonia National Park, visit Conservacion Patagonica.


We have fallen in love with the guanacos (Lama guanicoe) in the Chacabuco Valley. We’ve seen them playing, fighting, mating, defecating, relaxing, rolling in the dust, and just being silly. We have grown fond of guanacos not just for their charismatic features, but also for their convenient paths through the backcountry!

Adult guanacos stand 5-6 feet tall and have a similar appearance to a llama or an alpaca. Their diet consists of bunchgrass, bushes, fungi, and lichens. Here in the park, they are simply everywhere.

Whether they're bellowing to the herd, nursing, or twisting their necks around each other in play, guanacos bend their long necks in amazing ways. Photo by Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue.

Here are some fun facts about guanacos:

• Guanacos have communal “latrines” so be careful where you walk!

• Guanacos have a gestation period of 345 to 360 days — almost a whole year!

• Immature male guanacos live and travel in bachelor herds separate from the females and juveniles until they are 4 to 6 years old.

We’ve had a lot of fun observing the guanacos that hang out around our camp, especially the extremely cute young ones. Their funny antics are wonderful evening entertainment. Let us know if you’d like to see more guanaco photos!

A baby guanaco with its herd. Photo by Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue
A baby guanaco with its herd. Photo by Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue.
A young guanaco born just a few months ago.
A young guanaco born just a few months ago. Photo by Marty Schnure & Ross Donihue.

Source: Chester, Sharon (2008). A Wildlife Guide to Chile. Princeton University Press.

[Update: We have postponed our trip up the Aviles Valley due to weather and a stomach virus. We will be rescheduling the trip soon.]

Learn More

More posts from Marty Schnure and Ross Donihue

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Patagonia Wildlife Photos

A National Geographic Young Explorer, cartographer, and visual storyteller. Co-founder and designer at Maps for Good.
  • preston

    how much are Guanacos to buy!! they are amazing you need to post more pictures

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