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What it's like to try the Alpaca Experience at the Kenward Trust in Yalding, Maidstone

Forget walking the dog - alpaca trekking is where it's at.

You may well have seen pictures of trekking with alpacas and llamas and thought "I wonder what that's like?"

Pepe the alpaca makes a friend at the Kenward Trust in Yalding
Pepe the alpaca makes a friend at the Kenward Trust in Yalding

We tried it out on a (very) rainy day at the Kenward Trust in Yalding, near Maidstone, and it felt both surreal and slightly scary when we were first introduced to the boys - namely Pepe, Louigi, Romeo, Maximilian, Mario and Gizmo - who live on-site.

They all seemed unnervingly frisky when Andy the Alpaca Charmer (not his real title) gave us our chosen alpaca for the trek.

But within a few minutes of starting off on our walk, it became clear they had just been keen to get going and waiting for everyone to arrive was not how they wanted to spend their morning.

We had Pepe, the tallest of the herd, who we were told would lead, but in fact was extremely docile and held back quite a lot of the time.

Pepe and pals head into the woods at the Kenward Trust in Yalding
Pepe and pals head into the woods at the Kenward Trust in Yalding

Trekking with an alpaca was a little like walking a very large, but not entirely obedient, dog. After the initial frisky start, most of the alpacas calmed down and trotted along happily on our way through the wooded area and across the fields in the grounds.

They stopped to eat some leaves from a nearby tree - feeding them was like offering grass to a small horse - and occasionally they had a burst of energy and ran a little bit.

Towards the end of the experience, Andy brought out a bucket of alpaca food which they all happily took from our hands (anyone's hand too, forget feeding your own alpaca at this point).

It may have been a relatively short experience, but safe to say we had bonded with Pepe by the end. This emotional bond may have been unrequited, however, as he didn't seem to object to being handed to the group that followed on that day. Maybe he was just holding it in.

After the experience, there was a chance to browse the small shop at the Kenward Trust and, if you can get in, take tea and homemade cake at the very popular Sage and Time Cafe.

I had written about the trust over a number of years with the KM, but this was my first experience and it was a memorable one. It didn't matter about the rain and the time flew by.

You can book for an Alpaca Experience online, though we actually got ours as a present. We had also seen them on Groupon regularly. You can also book a children's party for animal-loving little (ish) ones.

The trust works with people experiencing alcohol and drug dependence, so you are also supporting a good cause.

To book or for more information call 01622 814187 or email reception@kenwardtrust.org.uk or book here.

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