The Nunoa Project, helping the people and camelids of Nunoa, Peru

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  • To give back to the country of Peru for their gift of alpacas to the US and other countries in the world.
  • To make a positive difference in the lives of herders and townspeople of Nunoa and the southern Peruvian highlands.
  • To address immediate needs through humanitarian aid and veterinary support for the animals in the region.
  • To exchange information and preserve the rural traditions of herding for future generations in Nunoa and the southern Peruvian highlands.
  • To establish self sustaining programs in the areas of: support for herding families and veterinary assistance for livestock in the Nunoa area.
  • To provide educational and research opportunities along with training for students, farmers and veterinarians through the North American Camelid Studies Program in the US and through the Nunoa Project work in Peru.

Nunoa (pronounced Nunyoa) is about halfway between Cuzco and Lake Titicaca on the high slopes of the eastern Andes above 13,000 feet in elevation. The Nunoa River that flows through town comes, in part, from the Quilccaya Glacier, the largest in the tropics. The town has about 7000 residents who speak Quechua and Spanish, the district (comparable to a county) has a population of about 14,000. About a third of the households in the district are impoverished and hence have difficulties meeting their basic needs.

Grazing land in the Nunoa District is some of the best on the Altiplano and the alpaca density the highest. As such the town prides itself as the suri capital of the world. Most small herders have alpacas (yes, huacayas too), llamas, sheep, some cattle, and several horses. While principally herders, most households raise potatoes, other tubers, and Andean cereals (quinoa and canihua).

This is a community where I and others have carried out anthropological research for over 40 years. In the course of our work we have befriended many, become god-parents to quite a few, and have helped in a number of ways winning the trust of the community. The opportunity to further reciprocate for the cooperation and generosity shown over the years came several years ago when Dr Steve Purdy first arrived at UMass to set up the Camelid Studies Program. Being interested in understanding the background of the alpacas and how they were herded by Andean natives it was easy to convince him that Nunoa was the place he had to see.

On our first trip Steve brought several animal science students, an alpaca breeder, and a fellow alpaca veterinarian, Cheryl DeWitt. We stayed in a small orphanage that supported joyous and inquisitive children, and toured the countryside talking with herders and inspecting their alpacas. So impressed were we all with the need of small herders for veterinary service, and with the potential of linking this effort to the understaffed and underfunded orphanage, that we started planning how we might help fulfill a number of community needs. Thanks to Dr. Purdy’s enthusiasm and a sense of obligation to give back to Andean herders - whose ancestors gave us the alpacas and llamas - a number of friends and colleagues were contacted, and they have provided their time and talents in getting our organization going. 



The Nunoa Project is a public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are fully tax deductible.

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The Nunoa Project: A non profit helping the people, children and alpacas of Nunoa, Peru
Helping the People and Camelids
The Nuñoa Project

The Nunoa Project: A non profit helping the people, children and alpacas of Nunoa, Peru



CONOPA is a Peruvian non-profit organization dedicated to scientific research and extension in South American camelids.

Latest News.....

Spring Alpaca Show Silent Auction at NAAS to benefit The Nunoa Project

Spring 2015 Update on all Nunoa Project Activities

Blanket Project in Alianaza a great success! Read the article here

New Collaboration for Nunoa Project Work in Peru: Read About it Here

The Project Supports Yarn Spinning Group: Read About it Here. View a Slideshow & Video Here

Nunoa Project Update - August 2014

Our Mission

About Nunoa

History of the Nunoa Project
by R. Brooke Thomas

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The Nunoa Project Teams with Voler!

Voler is a manufacturer of US made cycling clothing and accessories. You can support the Project while you ride!

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