Did Marco Polo Ride a Llama?

Marco! Polo! You no doubt remember screaming his name across the pool at some point, but more importantly, did the explorer ride a llama? We are pretty certain the answer is no.

How can we be sure that no llama joined him on his journey? Simply for the fact that llamas are native to South America and would not have been a known animal species in Europe or China during that time period in history.

Marco Polo was an explorer and merchant who hailed from Italy, specifically, Venice. He is most famous for crossing Asia via the “Silk Road,” with his father and his uncle. Upon reaching China he met the Kublai Khan and proceeded to carry out several missions for the well- known ruler of the Mongol Empire.

Since Marco Polo was trekking from Europe to Asia, he was more than likely making this trip on a camel or even a horse, but no llama.

In fact, llamas weren’t introduced to Europeans until the late 1600’s, well past the time of Marco Polo’s existence.

So, while it might be fun to imagine Marco Polo happily riding on a llama to China, the truth is a llama was a long way off from being a mode of transportation available to him or any explorer during the 13th century.

So where did the idea of Marco Polo and a llama come from?

The idea of Marco Polo riding a llama was let loose onto the public's collective mind most likely due to a popular Geico Insurance commercial. We have the creative (but historically inaccurate) marketing minds at Geico to thank for that.

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