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Office of International Education | Costa Rica Semester Abroad

Ecuador: Boot Camp in Alpaca Husbandry

Course Location
Program Dates
Winter 2020
Travel Dates: 1/1/2020 - 1/12/2020
ASCI 298 - 4 credits
Stuart White
Please see below for more information about costs associated with this travel study program.
No prerequisites specified

View the syllabus

Course Description

This course will permit students to become accomplished in the principal alpaca husbandry practices through daily work with a large alpaca herd. It will place alpacas, llamas and vicuñas in their historical and geographical contexts, and examine their potential as generators of income and environmental services.


We will have access to a herd of 500 alpacas in a beautiful setting in Ecuador located between 10,000 and 12,000 feet elevation. The landscape includes alpaca pastures, montane forest, and grassland páramos above tree line. The host ranch is part of a private conservation area, the Mazar Wildlife Reserve (MWR), owned and operated since 1982 by the instructor and located 100 road kilometers to the northeast of Cuenca.

The MWR is also an in-holding within Sangay National Park.  Various locations, separated by walking distances of 1-3 hours, will be used for husbandry practices.

Students will be housed in rustic cabins, or personal tents if preferred. Basic services (electricity, gas stove, flush toilet, running water, road access), with the exception of Internet, will be available. Hikes between sites that traverse forests will be used to discuss the conservation opportunities provided by alpaca husbandry.

Although most of the course will take place on the Mazar Wildlife Reserve, where the alpaca ranch is located, a road trip to central Ecuador will focus on llama husbandry by indigenous communities, and provide a unique opportunity to view vicuñas at close range on the high páramo within the government’s Chimborazo Faunal Preserve.

For interested students, we will have the option to ascend to a small lake at 16,700’, in the glacial embrace of Mount Chimborazo.


The instructor, Stuart White, has lived in Ecuador for 37 years and raised alpacas on the MWR since 1985 after introducing them from Chile and Peru. He has also raised cattle, llamas and sheep. Stuart received a PhD in Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981 and subsequently taught Geography at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, until moving to Ecuador.  In addition to raising alpacas, Stuart has spent his time in Ecuador doing conservation work, mostly in conjunction with the Fundación Cordillera Tropical (  Since 2010 Stuart has been associated with the University of Vermont, where he taught during 2011-2012, and continues as an adjunct assistant professor in the departments of Geography and Animal and Veterinary Sciences.

For more information:

Please contact the instructor if you have questions about the course content or activities:

Travel Study Costs and Fees

Program Fee: $1,212*

If you are admitted to the course, you will receive an email asking you to accept or decline the spot. To accept your spot, you are required to fill out the commitment deposit form and submit a $500 non-refundable deposit within 48 hours. For more information about payment policies and procedures, view the Travel Study Payment Policy.


  • Student housing accommodations
  • Cultural activities and excursions arranged by the lead instructor
  • In-country transportation
  • Meals
  • Supplies and materials

Not Included:

  • College tuition and fees**, see UVM Student Financial Services
  • Airfare, estimated cost $1,620
  • Cancel for any reason flight insurance (strongly encouraged)
  • Baggage fees
  • Vaccinations and any associated costs
  • Passport fees
  • Personal and entertainment expenses
  • Optional excursions
  • Anything not specified as included in the program

*Trip cost subject to change due to unanticipated changes.

**Travel Study courses are regarded as normal UVM courses and as such, normal tuition and fees apply.

Country Information

Visit the U.S. Department of State website for information regarding country health, safety risks, and laws for Ecuador.