What if you’ve never been anywhere near a donkey, and never gone off into nature on your own?
Teaching you to have faith – in yourself, in my donkeys, and in our environment – is what I like best about what I do.
But doing that takes a little time...
So for all hikes or backpacking trips with a donkey, I ask that you arrive a little early, so that we have time to prepare things properly. Even if you’re only going for an hour, and even if you’ve already hiked all the way around France with a donkey!
Bamboul'âne has been a member of FNAR Donkey Hikes, the national federation of donkey-hiking professionals from the very beginning. FNAR members uphold a quality charter that defines the profession’s ethical rules and best practices.
With the FNAR, we have composed little booklets that provide a goldmine of information about donkeys: their behaviour, how to handle them, their history and more. You take the booklet with you to refer to whenever you need to.
Before you go, I always spend some time making sure you understand how the material works, how you should behave with my donkeys… and how the donkeys might behave with you in various situations.
This discussion time is essential, even if you’ve already gone donkey-hiking before, because every donkey-driver is different, and their material is adapted to how they work, to the terrain, and to their donkeys.
In addition, I take the time to explain how I believe donkeys think. That will help you understand them and anticipate their reactions better, and what makes them happy.
The night before you leave, we’ll have a look at the maps and the topo-guides that will guide you to discover the beautiful local landscapes. Before you go, we’ll meet up again, and go into a bit more detail about the itinerary.
We live in the age of speed. We travel faster and faster, we communicate instantly, we buy and sell and consume in a few clicks.
Hiking with a donkey means (re)learning to take your time.
Hiking is a kind of green mobility, but hiking with a donkey means letting go of any desire to race with, compete with or outperform anyone else.
On average, donkeys walk about 4 of 5 km (2.5-3 miles) an hour, and they weigh about 250 kg. (40 stone/550 lbs.). They carry your heaviest bags, and they know it. There’s no way you can force them to walk faster!
The great thing is that their pace is perfect for a man or a woman who’e taking the time to admire the landscape, the pace of a man or woman who wants to walk for a long time so they can go far.
The pace is also perfect for children, who won’t have to hurry to catch up to their parents for once. Plus, knowing that they can climb on the donkey’s back if their legs wear out actually motivates them to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
With donkeys, children learn to love walking and hiking. They get to take care of the donkey, can often lead it, brush it, bring it to a watering place, etc. That means that they’re also learning to respect other living things and to understand that animals have needs, and that what we do to them has consequences.
Heading off on a hike with a donkey means unplugging yourself from the frantic rhythm of our lives. In summer, you have to get started as early as possible in order to take a long break in the shade between noon and 3 P.M. to avoid hiking in the heat of the day.