Leavin’ on that Llama Train to Lima


Llama train on the way up to Paso Cerani | Colca Canyon, Peru, 1996.

The coolest llama train I ever saw was the first llama train I ever saw.

It was in Peru’s Colca Canyon (one of the world’s deepest) in July, 1996. Specifically, the second day of a five day hike I was doing between the villages of Cabanaconde and Andagua.

After breaking camp that morning, I began the long ascent from the canyon floor up to Paso Cerani (5,100 m / 16,732 ft).

Not long after setting out, I saw a colourful collection of quadrupeds ambling along towards me. I stepped off the trail to let them pass.

At the back of the llama train was a cheerful local farmer by the name of Jose. He hailed from the nearby village of Choco. We chatted for about 30 or 40 minutes about life in the Colca Canyon. He mentioned that he was headed to the aforementioned village of Cabanaconde, and from there on to the Peruvian capital of Lima to visit his brother.

When we eventually parted ways, I watched Jose and his llamas descend the trail. As they disappeared from sight, I found myself singing the Gladys Knight & The Pips classic, Midnight Train to Georgia.

I just changed a few of the words in honour of my new found friend……………..

“He’s leavin’ (leavin’)
On that Llama train to Lima
Leavin’ on the llama train
Said he’s goin’ back
Goin’ back to find
To a simpler place in time
Oh yes he is”

For the next day and a half climbing up to Paso Cerani, I couldn’t get the song out of my head.

Paso Cerani

Yours truly on top of Paso Cerani | Colca Canyon Trek, Peru, 1996.

Fast forward to 2015.

It has been 19 years since my Colca Canyon hike, but I still can’t listen to a Gladys Knight tune without remembering Jose and that colourful llama train.

It’s funny the things that stay with you.

For more on the Colca Canyon trek, check out the following post:


Even better, take a listen to Gladys Knight & the Pips:



Leavin’ on that Llama Train to Lima — 1 Comment

  1. Great story Cam, those are the ones we remember.
    I used to live next to a small heard (in a large enclosure)outside Sante Fe, NM. They’ve very inquisitive, (didn’t get spit on either).


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