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Dublin: 8 °C Sunday 31 May, 2020

Inside the wonderful little farm in West Cork where you can go walking with alpacas

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IF YOU’RE ALREADY planning your summer escapades, we might just have the best option for you.

Waterfall Alpaca Farm in Drimoleague, West Cork offers glamping on a farm that includes Soay sheep , rescued dwarf and giant rabbits, miniature donkeys, hens, cats, dogs … And alpacas.

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Yep. The dream, essentially.

Emma Bird moved to Ireland 19 years ago, with a grá for animal welfare and the Irish countryside. Thus, Waterfall Farm was born.

Open to school tours, group visits or solo adventurers, Waterfall Farm lets you go on a 40 minute meander with the male alpacas of the herd (you get to meet the gals too, don’t worry).

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“I bought this bit of land and just fell in love with it,” she told “It’s a beautiful bit of land.”

I’ve always been into animal rescue, but I didn’t want to start an actual rescue, but you just never stop then, do you? I figured I’d concentrate on educating kids.”

After keeping horses for a time, Emma found that the land got quite horse sick. Following the death of her old mare, she said the thought of keeping alpacas “just popped into her head”.

Environmentally, they’re just an amazing animal [...] They’re hardy, and because they have pads, they don’t churn the land up. They’re amazing – they’re so gentle and clever and sweet.
We didn’t really realise what we were getting into because there are limited alpaca experiences out there.”

Emma does breed and sell the alpacas on occasion, but as it can be a struggle to find suitable homes for them, the focus remains on ensuring the alpacas have a nice life on the farm. Aw.

I always to have room to take in alpacas in need. We were looking at other ways to make money and we have this beautiful walkway, and we just kind of thought, “well, let’s just combine the two!”
We wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t love it. It’s the highlight of their day … Or the treats at the end certainly are.”


Here’s how a typical alpaca walk works:

  • First, you meet the lady alpacas (“who will look at you like you’re not worthy”, Emma says). Some of them will eat off your hands, others will oblige you a neck scratch.
  • Then, you go see all the other animals.
  • Emma and her crew give a brief ‘safety talk’ (“you’d be doing well to make it dangerous.”)
  • And away you go! You can even bring a picnic, if you so please.
It’s like walking a balloon … I’ve had very little kids walk them. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on people’s faces.

There are 14 alpacas currently living their best lives on Waterfall Farm.

Emma’s favourite out of the girls is Connie, while Zeb leads up the boys (just don’t tell the others, though).

It’s €40 for the first 2 alpacas, €10 each there after, and €5 for people accompanying but not leading an alpaca.

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If you fancy an overnight stay, the farm also offers it’s glam cabin for breaks.

Originally used for school tours for post-walk refreshments, they soon saw a new opportunity in allowing people to stay overnight at the farm.

It was sitting there unused for most of the year, and I thought, “hang on, why don’t we see if anyone wants to go on holiday there?”"
I think it’s quite unusual because you have the farm to yourself. You have such privacy, and I think for most people, they’ve never had that experience of being in the middle of nowhere.”

Situated among hills of Castledonovan, the cabin has access to the farm walk, a stunning waterfall and a swimming hole with a magical gazebo. Take your infinity pool and smoke it.

cabin 2017

The cabin itself sleeps 4 comfortably (6 at a push, we’re told), with a picnic table and barbeque on request. Sounds like the perfect little hideaway!

It’s available in April, May and September for €75 per night and €400 per week. In June, July and August, it’s €85 per night and €500 per week. The minimum stay is two nights.

You’ll be able to chill with these guys though, and surely you can’t put a price on that?

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We decided to get an answer to the question on everyone lips – what’s the difference between an alpaca and a llama?

Llamas are bred as pack animals, while alpacas are bred purely for their fleece.
Llamas are bigger and stronger than alpacas – but they’re also ruder and uglier!”

So, there you go.

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