Ellaberry Llama Farm is a completely unique farm in Hendersonville, NC, about an hour north of Greenville, SC, that lets guests interact in ways they likely haven’t experienced with a llama before!
Media tickets were given for this experience.
I love llamas and alpacas and big, fluffy animals. I am also an avid hiker. So when I heard of a farm in Hendersonville that lets you hike with a llama and actually play with them and get up close, I was practically in my car driving up there already.
Ellaberry Llama Farm is so much more than a farm though. This place not only has a very unique history but the family who owns the farms and its llamas are amazing. Plus, what they let guests do at the farm when it comes to interacting with their llamas is the stuff dreams are made of.
About Ellaberry Llama Farm
The farm sits on more than 100 acres of farmland and is actually a sixth generation apple farm. They aren’t a u-pick apple orchard though. Their apples are for processing, which means they get made into applesauce and baby food that you’ll likely see in a grocery store.
The farm is surrounded by gentle hills and sits at the foot of Bearwallow Mountain. While we went during the winter time and the apple trees were bare, they are full of blooms in the spring and only add to the beauty of the farm.
The agritourism llama venture started out of creative necessity. When Hendersonville got hit with a late frost last year, the apple orchards in the area lost most of their crops. Ellaberry Farm was no different. But they did have llamas and these llamas were trained with human interaction – which I’ll get to in a minute – so the idea was thrown out there to open the farm for tours. Guests would get to interact with the llamas on the farm tour and if they wanted to hike, that would also be an option. Well, the idea thankfully caught on and here I am writing about these fluffy and loveable creatures.
The farm currently has 26 llamas, including an adorable fluffy baby llama.
How Llamas Got on the Farm
The Justice family (not to be confused with the other Justus family with the awesome weatherman and apple orchard) has four kids who are all homeschooled. The oldest, Allie, fell in love with llamas when she was 10 years old and the neighbors had llamas. Her sister also adored llamas and their dad, being the great father he is, decided to get a couple llamas. They had the farm and the space and barn so it worked out.
But that wasn’t enough for Allie, now 17 years old. She learned how to care for llamas through the instruction of her llama-loving neighbors and became quite the expert. She worked with her local 4H group on caring for them and then started showing them at llama contests around the country. They probably aren’t called llama contests but these are basically to show how awesome your llama is and they can win prizes for the best llama. Allie’s llamas were champs and she came home with lots of ribbons. To train the llamas to do this well, Allie has to work with them constantly, like twice a day on doing all the cool llama things they need to do to get first prize.
This kind of constant interaction lends itself to some very attentive llamas who interact well with humans. They are gentle and full of personality and oh-so-cute and fluffy. Allie also knows a lot about llamas, way more than my mind could possibly remember at once. I remember that they have three stomachs, that she taught them not to spit at people, that females are pregnant for a year, and that they have soft padding on their feet, which look like sheep feet. I promise you’ll learn a lot of interesting llama facts when you go to the farm.
Interacting with the Llamas
We did the farm tour llama experience and got to do a short jaunt in the woods with the llamas to see how that part of the trek works. But the majority of our experience was the farm tour, which was amazing. Calling it a tour is not the right word. This was more of an unforgettable experience than anything. Honestly, when can you run with a llama through an obstacle course together? That’s more than a tour.
You’ll learn a lot on the llama tour as the Justice family takes you either on a school bus or a tractor ride over the barn to meet the llamas. You’ll learn about the history of the farm and about llamas themselves and how to interact with them.
Once you get to the barn, you are free to pet the llamas, take photos, and just enjoy their fluffiness. You can hug them and talk to them and ask questions of the tour guides, Donna and her husband, Jason, and of course, Allie. We got to give the llamas little treats also and some of them gave us llama kisses. No llama drama here.
Allie and her family have trained the llamas not to spit at humans so you don’t have to worry about that.
Playing on the Obstacle Course
After you get to know the llamas a bit, you’ll lead them on their leash over to the obstacle course ring. This is a big sandy, enclosed ring that has fun obstacles like a pool noodle slide through thing, a balance beam, crates to step over and through, a tunnel, and things to jump over with your llama.
The llama follows your lead here so you have to do all the obstacles with your llama. This was beyond fun. It was like being a kid again except better because you had a llama with you!
You can trade your llama for another llama and do the course again. You can even try some jumping obstacles with your llama, which is harder than it looks because you have to jump while trying to get your llama to come with you and jump themselves. They all have very different personalities and some llamas are all like, “nah, I want to watch you jump and I’ll walk calmly around the obstacle”. Others are all into it and will jump along with you. This was so fun and myself and my kids really had a blast playing with our llamas.
All this llama cuddling and playing got me wondering if llama therapy is a thing and sure enough, it is, although not very widespread or studied yet. Llamas are charismatic megafauna, a term biologists use for bigger animals like tigers, pandas, orcas, or polar bears that have a wide appeal to humans. Llamas are technically in that category but even cooler because humans can safely cuddle and play with them and they can be incorporated into therapeutic uses.
Ellaberry Llama Farm doesn’t have an official llama therapy program but they do host groups that have suffered trauma in the past or have disabilities and welcome them to do all the things with the llamas that they are comfortable with. Ellaberry also takes llamas to local nursing homes so residents can interact with the llamas and as you can probably guess, the residents love it.
From my own personal experience with these llamas, I can tell you I left the farm feeling more relaxed and carefree than I had been when I first got there. These llamas made me ridiculously happy, almost as happy as baby goats do – readers know that is a high bar to reach since I just love baby goats so, so much.
Hiking with Llamas
Since Ellaberry Llama Farm is situated on more than 100 acres, they have miles of trails they use for their llama hikes. We hiked a bit of one of the trails just to see what it was like and really, if you love hiking and llamas, this tour needs to go on your bucket list.
The farm offers two trail options: a one to one and a half hour trek and a longer two hour moderate hike. Each hiker gets their own llama partner and the llama can carry a small pack with water and snacks if needed.
Llamas are excellent hikers with sure footing. If you’ve ever hiked one of the trails to Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you may have seen the llamas carrying supplies up and down the trails to the lodge. My kids and I got to see the llamas once when we were out there and it was so cool. They are very strong and can carry up to 20 percent of their body weight. But humans can’t ride on them so don’t try that.
The llamas are very well-trained and my kids had no issues walking with them even though the llamas are way taller and bigger. The animals are just so sweet and fun. I got such joy seeing the faces of my kids as they cuddled with their llamas and played with them.
Special Events with Llamas
Ellaberry Llama Farm offers birthday parties and other special events right on their farm. The birthday party option is 1.5 hours and includes 15 kids plus the birthday child. They have picnic tables for parents to bring a birthday cake or cupcakes. Kids will get to run through the obstacle course with their llama and have the option to take lots of photos at photo booths at the farm.
The farm can also bring llamas to you! They will take llamas to daycares, schools, birthday parties off site, weddings, nursing homes – you name it. Contact the farm directly for more info.
Booking Your Llama Experience
Ready to go have fun with llamas at Ellaberry? To book your own llama experience, contact Donna Justice directly at [email protected] or 828.606.3577.
You can also follow Ellaberry Llama Farm on Facebook as they will post when they have slots open for tours and hikes.
Tickets for the farm tour are $20/person. Farm tours are about 90 minutes long. For the llama hikes, a minimum of four hikers are required for each hike and the shorter hike costs $50/person while the longer one is $75/person.
The farm is open all year round. Be sure to dress for the weather in whatever season you go and bring sunscreen in the summer.
Things to do Nearby
While you can’t take the llamas up to Bearwallow Mountain, you can definitely fit in a hike there while you’re visiting Ellaberry Llama Farm. The hike is a moderate two-mile trek with sweeping 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s stunning.
Chimney Rock and Lake Lure are only 20 minutes away from Ellaberry as well, where you can visit the free Flowering Bridge, stroll through the Chimney Rock Village, or take a hike at Chimney Rock State Park.
During apple picking season, you will have no problems finding an apple orchard nearby to pick your own apples. The farm is very close to several big apple orchards.
And if you visit during the wintertime and want to add on a few hours of snow tubing, Black Bear Snow Tubing is less than 15 minutes away.
If you’re looking for more fun in Hendersonville, including lots of free/cheap activities, check out our Hendersonville Guide.