Warnings and Dangers in Santorini Island: Donkeys and Mules
When visiting this beautiful island, be aware of the dangers you may encounter when walking or riding up and down the steep donkey paths that cover this area.
The donkey path to and from Fira is pprox 600 steps. This path is extremely dangerous and very slippery with general wear and tear and also donkey urine and excrement. If walking, you’ll also have to contend with donkeys going up and down the path. There should be a health & safety warning at the foot and top of these steps as people have broken bones by slipping and falling on this path. There is no help or assistance available at any point on the path so be safe and take the cable car.
As with Fira, Oia is built right on the edge of the cliff and there are several options of getting up to the top. One is by donkey, but like Fira, it’s not recommended at Oia. Reviewers have accused the men organising donkey and mule trains of being very abrupt and rude. Riders have been put in danger when getting off at the top as the donkeys started turning around before riders had a chance to get off. One rider ended up with one leg in the stirrup and one on the ground and then fell into someone else as they both dove to the side while the donkeys came running back down. In response, the men apparently just told them hurry up and get out of the way.
Recommendation: Take another option to get to the top.
The donkeys are so sad looking, and it’s no wonder. These poor animals carry people up the steep hills day in and day out in scorching temperatures with no adequate rest, shade or water. The only place they can urinate or defecate is on the path where they are led. Additionally, they wear ill fitting tack that pinches and chafes, and they often slip on the path, sustaining injuries that are poorly managed. If you’re an advocate of animal welfare, don’t take the donkey or mule rides.
All across Santorini and surrounding small islands are fantastically steep hills that Superman would have problems walking up. So the local old guys have lots and lots of mules and donkeys to take you up and down. Then they feed them and the trouble starts. Yes, they poo early and often and when you least expect it. Walk behind them too closely and you will have it all over your clothes – possibly as high as shoulder level. You will get it on your shoes. It is going to happen. Make sure they are good shoes. Flip-flops + Poo? Yuck! Watch where you walk – very carefully!
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about warnings and dangers of donkeys and mules in Santorini.