Travelling by Donkey
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Dec 19, 2012 12:51 AM Last Post By: wolfshakti
Dec 13, 2012 9:36 AM
Travelling by DonkeyHi to all,
My partner and I are crazy enough to consider a trip through Ethiopia by donkey! We will have two months to spend around the country but think that one month may be enough with the hairy friend! Does anyone have any experience about travelling anywhere by donkey and what things we need to consider, especially in Ethiopia. How much to pay for a donkey? Where to buy one? Is this safe? Is it easy for the donkey to find food in the north? south? What is a good route? Is there enough wood to build fires at night or is a camping stove preferable? Essential items?
How would local people react to a western couple travelling in this manner? Any information, suggestions or thoughts welcome.
Dec 13, 2012 10:04 AM
1Ethiopia is huge, so I guess north and south cannot be covered with a donkey in a month.
Didn't Dervla Murphy or what is her name once write a book about travelling around Ethiopia with a donkey or was it a mule?
I would say a donkey will not cost more than 200 US dollars, probably less, horses were 300 dollars about two years ago.
But you want to buy one and then sell it? Will you not get attached? Would you just walk with a donkey randomly? I think maybe you would need some to walk with you? Where would you sleep? Do you speak an Ethiopian language? In rural parts of Ethiopia people rarely speak English.
you may want to look up this
Also, you may want to read Chains of Heaven by Philip Marsden about walking-riding through Ethiopia.
Dec 13, 2012 10:10 AM
2Thanks for your reply LizaD. We are not sure whether it would be better to travel in the north or south because of vegetation, locals, etc. I am assuming it might be easier to travel the pilgrims route in the north. We would likely give the donkey away to a family we liked at the end.
A route is preferable of course and are open to suggestions, language is going to be a major problem though we intend to be fully equipped to stay without help, it would of course be better to interact with locals, be invited as guests, etc.
We are also open to guides for parts of the journey if need be.
Thanks for the link.
Dec 13, 2012 10:55 AM
3well, i would be interested in hearing how this goes. As you can tell from my comment I am skeptical about it. I've been living in Ethiopia for over two years and speak a decent Amharic, but would not venture on such a trip without a guide (and the thought of walking with a mule or a horse had crossed my mind.
I hope you have donkey experience.
Dec 13, 2012 11:04 AM
4I am all in favour of quiet, slow travel and seeing beyond the main tourist attractions but your donkey idea amounts to a huge responsibility on your part.
Also it will take you a long, long time on foot. I imagine Addis to Lalibela will take you a pretty unpleasant 4/5 long days along on the main road (think big shuddering trucks and lots and lots of dust) followed by another 4 or so along the older lesser used dirt road in. Would you really rather do that than a couple of days bus travel?
We drove the dirt track up the centre of Ethiopia north out of Lalibela via Sekota. Lalibela to Mekele took around 9 hours by Land Rover. I would guess a week orso on foot. This area was the epicentre of the famine in the 80's. Will you be able to find water/forage for the donkey as well as what you need for yourselves? Or will you backtrack to the main road?
If you want to really see something different Ethiopia is the place to do it. You will have amazing experiences anyway but I think you will sacrifice a lot if you follow your plan.
Dec 13, 2012 11:57 AM
5Fodder is becoming a big problem in rural Ethiopia. A lot of land has been converted from grazing to arable production in the past few years and animal stocks, on the whole, are falling. Communities have protected grazing lands with the very best kept for the oxen that will do the land preparation and ploughing. Donkeys are seen as beasts of burden and are not allowed on the grazing lands reserved for cattle let alone for oxen. You will need to be aware of this if you do indeed travel with a donkey - grazing by the side of the road/reack will be OK but don't just let it loose on a farmer's field or nice looking patch of grass.
Dec 13, 2012 1:07 PM
6Why get a donkey? Sure it can carry some things but intrepid travelers such as yourselves should be able to travel in a self sufficient way just as if you're backpacking/hiking back home.I think this would be a great idea but would suggest you do it in an area where there plenty of villages where they would probably take you in for a nite or more. Bring a camp stove and some freeze dried meals. Fire wood may be hard to find in places. I did this several times in W and Central Africa doing trips lasting from 1 day to several weeks. This was back in the 80s but it was among the highlites of all my travel experiences. The donkey could end up being more of a liability than an asset. Good luck.
Dec 13, 2012 4:36 PM
7Sorry that i have no information to bring to the table, but i had to chime in only to say that your idea is VERY MUCH AWESOME!!
I highly encourage anyone to try diffent things, think outside the box and do something different. This sounds like a great idea and, while it is propably pretty much impossible to really plan this in detail, i'm sure it could be done!
I hope you give this crazy-sounding idea a try and report back later. In the worst case, you'll be stuck somewhere and just continue like every other 08/15 backpacker...
All the best!!!
Dec 14, 2012 12:47 AM
8Heheheh! That sounds hilarious! but there is one problem, donkeys are not well treated here and will not be able to take you to a longer distance. The best way which I think you could use is horse or Mule, you can travel about 6o KM a day, but donkey, you might make less than 10 a day.
Locals might find you hilarious, but might compare you to some type of Jesus! heheheh!
try horse or Mule, much safe
Dec 14, 2012 6:28 AM
9First, let me say that as crazy as I think the idea is, I admire your idea of going slower so that you can take in the country. I admire people that realize that to get to know and experience a country, you need to spend time and take it slow.
Second, when I was working in remotes areas of Ethiopia years ago I did have an occasion to go on a mule. It was out of necessity and I would not call it fun and I do not remember it fondly. You should realize that unless you are in top shape AND experienced riding an animal, you will find at the end of the first day, in addition to aching in every bone and muscle from your waist down, you will have aches and pains in places that you did not realize existed on your body.
That said, there is a couple that have a stable outside of Addis and they offer treks on horseback. Although I have never used him, my children have been on an afternoon trek and had a great time and I know people that have been on weekend treks and have been happy with them. I know a bit about horses and in my opinion he takes good care of them. The website is http://www.equus-ethiopia.com/index.html. They work primarily north of Addis
There also used to be an NGO hat offered treks by horseback in the Bale Mountains in the south.
If you really want to see the country by animal, I would recommend that you try a week with the above company. If that works, do some research to see if the NGO or someone else runs horseback trekking trips in the south. While it may drain the budget, a couple of weeks by horse should satisfy your cravings. You would also have a few extra weeks to see the country by other means.
Dec 15, 2012 12:49 PM
10As a veterinarian currently working in Ethiopia, I agree with some of the comments above - you should not be attempting this without a guide and experienced donkey handler, as it raises some serious animal welfare questions. It's currently the dry season in northern Ethiopia, and feed (and water) is getting more and more scarce. How can you be sure to feed it adequately? Control the donkey? Address any health issues it might have?!
Dec 18, 2012 8:46 AM
11donkeys/mules are cool to travel with, especially if they're carrying luxury camping kit and extravagant food supplies ... and especially if someone else is responsible for directing the eat-drink-stop-go routines ...
I think it's a great idea but I'd be wanting a professional 'stubborner than the mule' guide to do the animal steerage.
Dec 19, 2012 12:51 AM
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