Regional Roadtrips: Alpaca trekking and savoury Spanish delights await in Leeds and Grenville

Little Foot Alpaca farm
Editor's Note

Regional Roadtrips is a column prepared by local travel writer Laura Byrne Paquet of Ottawa Road Trips to inspire day trips and weekend getaways a short drive from Ottawa.

Have you ever heard an alpaca orgle?

I haven’t, but at least I now know what orgling is, thanks to a recent visit to Little Foot Alpacas. At this farm just outside Spencerville, about 50 minutes south of Ottawa, co-owner Caroline Bingley dishes up fascinating facts about these lovable South American mammals. 

Orgling is something that only a true alpaca fan like Bingley could call “singing.” (I googled it later and decided the noise sounded more like a sputtering car engine.) Male alpacas sing their “songs” to attract the attention of a female alpaca. She chooses her favourite orgler and they head off to make a baby alpaca.

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Caroline Bingley says alpacas are “like potato chips.” Photo by Laura Byrne Paquet.

But I wasn’t at Little Foot that day to watch an alpaca version of The Bachelor. I was there to take a one-hour alpaca trek.

While “trekking” conjures visions of clambering through the Andes, an alpaca trek at Little Foot is a much simpler concept. Visitors spend a restful hour walking a harnessed alpaca around the farm’s trails and chatting with Bingley.

My alpaca date for the morning was Thor, a friendly fluffball the colour of milk chocolate who stood about as tall as my shoulder. As we set off on our trek, I asked Bingley how she came to start an alpaca farm after running a florist shop in Trent Hills, Ont., for 25 years.

It turns out she’d been fascinated by alpacas for about a decade. So when she sold her store, she and her partner built a barn on his family’s Spencerville farm and started buying alpacas. They opened Little Foot to the public last June.

Their original goal was to have eight alpacas. At the moment, they have 22. “They’re like potato chips,” she explained with a happy shrug. “You can’t have just one.”

Our boots crunched in the snow as we strolled slowly around the perimeter of a farm field. It was beautifully quiet, with the wind sighing through the trees and Thor’s occasional snuffle the loudest sounds. And the best part? Thor permitted me to throw my arm around his fuzzy neck and cuddle him. 

After our trek, we returned Thor to his paddock and I checked out the small farm shop, heaped with socks, mittens, sweaters and blankets made from alpaca yarn. (Unlike llamas, alpacas are raised for their soft, dense fibre and not as pack animals.) And then it was time to say goodbye.

Having worked up a bit of an appetite, I drove about 20 minutes south of Little Foot to El Rebost de les Mil Illes in Prescott. Owner Marc Gomez Segu stocks this gourmet food shop — located, incongruously, in a drab industrial park — with high-end treats imported from his native Spain. He also serves light lunches, and I happily tucked into half an outstanding Joselito Iberico shoulder ham sandwich on sourdough with a bright, fresh side salad. I’m keen to return to check out the company’s new full-service restaurant, currently under construction next door.

Award-winning Ottawa travel writer Laura Byrne Paquet shares her sightseeing tips for Eastern Ontario and beyond on her website, Ottawa Road Trips.

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