Eleven donkeys are currently in training. The donkeys live out in paddocks and therefore feed on natural grasses, their water source is a perennial mountain stream and their shelter is dense natural vegetation providing shade and shelter from rain. Due to their natural habitat, their condition is excellent and this is what we hope to portray with the Donkey Trail.

Donkeys will accompany guests on the trail as this adds to the authenticity of the heritage route being walked. All donkeys in the project are rescued, except 3 which were born on the farm. We have gelded all males so as to prevent further pregnancies. We are approved by Animal Welfare as a farm to receive rescued animals and work very closely together with Mrs Hillary Skutte, running a donkey rescue program in De Rust, nearby.

Donkeys will not carry more than 10 kg each which is a VERY light load for a donkey. At no time will any donkey be put under unnecessary strain. Guests will NEVER see a donkey in poor condition or being mishandled. This is our mission statement for the donkeys. This trail is to reflect an end to suffering for the abused farm labourer and the abused donkey.

Donkeys are not stubborn! If handled gently and with care, they are willing and hardworking. Many of the anticipated stumbling blocks have already been overcome. The donkeys have learned to cross waterways willingly, to respond when called, to be haltered and walked. As they are social animals, it is important to allow them to work in pairs and to get them teamed up with the "correct" partners (or else). This has been done.

What remains to be done is fitness training, much of which will occur as the donkeys are used during the process of clearing the trail (approximately one month duration).

It is intend for 4-6 donkeys to walk at one given time on a trail. This gives good opportunity for rotation of use therefore not to exhaust any one donkey. Some of the donkeys are larger and stronger than others. There will always be one such donkey present with guests, should it be necessary to carry an injured guest to an identified emergency evacuation point.

All guides will be trained in basic donkey handling and will also be responsible for cleaning and maintenance of donkey equipment, feed, water and stabling on the mountain. Guides who are not walking will be involved with donkey handling at base camp.

Donkey feed will be carted up on each hike, by one donkey. Donkey time on the mountain will be kept to a minimum (one day and one night). Initially, trainee guides will accompany donkeys back to base camp. We do believe however, that with time, as in the original donkey route days, donkeys will return to base camp unaccompanied. Donkeys like home and are inclined to want to return home. This could eliminate the need for them to overnight on the mountain.

Donkey Anecdotes

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