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Kate shears alpacas in the High Andes of Peru

The Inca Empire is famous for architectural achievements, but the ancient people of the Andes were as skilled herders as they were builders, producing some of the finest textiles the world has ever seen. Kate Humble travels to the mountains of southern Peru to live with the Incas¹ modern-day descendants to see if any of this heritage remains.

She discovers an ancient culture based around alpaca herding, and she immerses herself in everyday life, herding and shearing animals, spinning and weaving alpaca fibre and feasting on roasted guinea pig.

But people are struggling to make ends meet ­ lack of pasture and poor quality animals threaten this traditional way of life. Kate sets off in search of solutions, but soon learns that the whole alpaca industry is on a knife-edge. Only by re-learning the skills of their Inca ancestors can Peruvians secure the future of alpaca herding in the High Andes.

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3 minutes