Up Close and Personal With Alpacas

My husband’s aunt Tracey was back in town, and having previously visited ostriches, parrots, and gibbons with her, I knew she’d be up for a trip to Canzelle Alpacas in Carpinteria. You have to reserve a spot on a one-hour tour—no walk-ins—and tickets cost $30 ($25 for seniors and children). If you want to linger afterward, you can also reserve a table on the balcony of the building pictured below for a BYO picnic ($38 for a four-top, $68 for an eight-top).

You need not wait long to see an alpaca on the 20-acre farm. There’s a friendly one hanging out by the check-in area.

Our tour had 18 people, and there can evidently be at least two more (because a couple of folks arrived so late they had to wait for the next one). After we had all signed a waiver and admired the shelves of alpaca “fiber,” our guide gathered us in a circle for a five-minute talk about how the farm came to be, some general info about alpacas, and how to behave around them. In a first, I wouldn’t have minded if the talk had gone on longer.

She led us to a paddock with 10 or so females and we got right to petting them. They’re adorable, probably more so because everything but their heads was recently shorn. They look like a cross between a poodle and horse, perhaps with a dash of giraffe. (Or sock puppets?) Their coats are as soft as plush toys.

I wasn’t taking notes, so I may have misremembered some of this, but at one point the farm had around 300 alpacas, raising them for their fiber; the 2008 recession forced the owner to “give some away.” (The scare quotes are all mine.) And now there are around three dozen, with tourism as the point.

The guide was available to answer questions, and while she could be a tad brusque (maybe she’s just more at ease with animals than humans), she was great with the kids. We learned that alpacas are very sociable animals whose main defenses are to spit or run, but they can also kick, so we were instructed to approach from the side, where their eyes are, and not from behind. While they’re prone to nibbling at clothes, they only have bottom teeth, which means they can be discouraged before doing much damage.

The alpacas mainly mill around, agree to pose for photos, eat, and maybe shoo away the cat.

Then we walked to the other side of the barn, where the males are. The first gentleman below has sired several hundred alpacas.

We all got little buckets of baby carrots to feed them.

But we had to leave the buckets behind when proceeding to a pasture with another herd of females. They get pesky if they see a bucket, so you hide carrots in your hand or a pocket. The younger kids were encouraged to hose off the animals, which both kids and animals enjoyed.

The guide said there are sixty or so animals on the farm, including the llama below and Archie the Filipino water buffalo, who was rescued from a traveling petting zoo. (He got a full-size carrot from each of us.) We also saw peacocks and chickens, but not the sheep, horses, and dogs promised on the website. Too bad—the dogs sound interesting.

The tour ended with a visit to a sink for washing hands, followed by the gift shop. An hour was just right: I was entertained by the experience, and I was also ready to go—but not without first saying goodbye to this cutie.


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Hello San Roque community. I just moved in to a house right behind what appears to be and old gas station ( Mackenzie Market) ..? Doesn’t anyone have any idea what is happening there.


San Roque here too – over by Stevens Park! Yeah that corner is an absolute mystery. There was an actual market there a few years ago, but it’s been like you see it for the past 12-18 months. Seems to serve as some sort of car storage lot for the owner? Maybe someone else has more info.

Erik Torkells

The folks who own Teddy’s by the Sea in Carpinteria are working on opening an outpost of Teddy’s in the former Mackenzie Market space. There have been reports (unconfirmed) that there will be an outpost of their Brass Bird, too. As is the norm in Santa Barbara, they’ve been in the permitting stage for a long time.


It really is a fun place to spend some time with crazy looking fuzzy creatures.


Thank you Erik for the information. I just looked at both of those websites and all I can say is “ Wow “ I will plan to make a trip to Carpinteria and visit Teddy’s by the sea and The Brass bird coffee and give you all an update once I visit.
Thank you again!


Nancy I was just in carpinteria this past Saturday. I had family coming in from out of town and we had lunch at Teddy’s by the sea. We had a party of 18 people and I am so happy that someone made reservations there. We had everything on the menu since it’s not a huge menu. I had this ahi dish ( still dreaming about) my wife had shrimp and grits and she loved it. All in all I think everyone loved their food and we are already planning to come back this coming Sunday.

I hope you have a great experience like we did and can’t wait for these folks to open on our neighborhood.



We had a large party so they were able to reserve a table for us.