My day of exploration with Santorini Donkey Tours was full of adventures and a lesson I will never forget.
Going into this excursion, I was hesitant. I had researched and noticed many posts against donkey riding on the island. There were stories of people hanging on for dear life, or even getting injured on donkey rides. Many people also voiced concerns about the animals’ health, because some donkeys on the island are mistreated or abused.
Luckily I had Stefanos, my guide for the day, to clear up any concerns or fears I had. He assured me that the donkeys and mules that he works with are treated properly and owned by local farmers around the island. They live well, are healthy and enjoy the trails that are part of the Santorini Donkey Tours. He explained to me his work with donkey sanctuaries around Greece and the UK to fight abuse and neglect towards donkeys.
After my conscious was cleared, I decided it was time to meet the riding partners, Alexander and Margarita. How cute are they?!
When you go on a ‘donkey tour,’ you normally ride on mules. But it is called a donkey tour because a donkey is always at the head of the pack to lead the way. Fun fact: mules are a mix between a donkey and a horse, and are typically all female.
The specific tour I took was called ‘Oia Heights’ that led me to the white church. I had a perfect view of the Caldera view as I passed hikers making their way to Oia. The mules were so beautiful, many stopped to take a picture.
When I thought I was going into something that would be difficult, I realized how calm and serene mule rides were. With each step intricately accounted for, the mules made me feel safe as can be.
Alexander and Margarita provided me with a happy evening filled with knowledge, laughter and the most beautiful view of the Caldera sunset.
If you ever are on the beautiful island of Santorini, which I highly advise, do your research before going on a donkey ride. Although it is a great way to see the island, many of these animals are treated poorly, abused and overworked for tourism reasons.
I luckily found Santorini Donkey Tours, a wonderful company who treats their donkeys and mules with respect and love. I have a sweet spot in my heart for all animals, and it breaks my heart seeing animals treated poorly, especially in this case for our own entertainment.
So all I want to say is do your research, because there are amazing advocates out there for innocent animals, just like Stefanos. I am so glad to have found a little glimpse of hope for the animals here on the island of Santorini with my cute riding partners, Alexander and Margarita.
For more information on the safety of donkeys and how you can help, visit The Donkey Sanctuary online.