CHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) — “Chakana is the symbol up there – that’s the Inca cross or the Andean cross,” says Bill Bernhart, pointing to the top of his barn.
That’s why he named his property Chakana Sky Alpaca Farm, a nod to the indigenous people of the Andes Mountains and his 19 residents whose roots are also there.
“Our motto is heritage, harmony, sanctuary,” he says. “It’s my sanctuary. People come here for the tranquility. It’s also somewhat of a sanctuary for the alpacas, especially ones that are re-homed.”
Farm tourism is Bernhart’s second career after retiring from Pratt and Whitney.
“When I feed them, we make a fist with the food,” he says, demonstrating the feeding process.
He knew he wanted to share his sanctuary with others.
“When COVID hit, I decided to go to private visits by appointment. It’s worked out very well,” says Bernhart, noting that he’s now welcomed 1,600 guests in two and a half years, sharing his knowledge for this animal.
The alpacas, like Murphy and McDuff, are chatty.
Visitors meet the boys and then the girls, who are kept in separate areas.
There are also two adorable babies, Chester and Alana, born in June.
“I know them all personally and individually. They all have different personalities,” says Bernhart.
Find a boutique called a ‘Pacatique,’ selling products made of alpaca fiber, and a peaceful, bucolic setting.
A visit to the farm offers an up-close and personal view of a fascinating animal.
“It’s a unique thing to do. If you’re looking for alpacas in Connecticut, we usually come up on top,” says Bernhart.
Chakana Sky Alpacas is open year-round by appointment, offering 45-minute visits.