I love donkeys. They are a less daunting size than horses and can have beautiful faces. An uncomplaining worker, in Cyprus they were essential to farming the land especially in mountain villages as they are able to navigate the narrow tracks and uncompromising fields.
The long- eared Cypriot donkey is a handsome breed and is similar to the donkeys found in France and Spain and is thought to have been introduced to Cyprus originally by the Crusaders.
Today they are not such a common sight as they have been usurped by the 4 x 4 truck, not as pretty – well in my eyes anyway – and certainly noisier . There donkey population at its height was in the region of 50,000 now the number is fewer than 2,000 and a completely new career now awaits them when their owners finally retire them from farming. There are a few donkey sanctuaries and farms dotted about the island and a farm in Kalokedara has imaginatively come up with the idea of using them to ferry tourists to a nearby out of the way monastery Panayia Tou Sindhi. This unusual remote monastery has recently been beautifully restored,but is quite difficult to access by car as the roads leading to it are mostly unmade tracks. This I discovered for myself one very hot day when on the spur of the moment I decided to follow the signpost pointing to it. Let’s just say by the time I reached within trekking distance I was very dusty and tired and would have had to abandon the car on an overgrown track to get near it. I think the idea of doing this trip on a donkey a delightful prospect and I look forward to giving it a try next time I go. One place I would particularly like to see trekking excursions would be on the Akamas as this I feel would be far less damaging to the environment than the four wheeled safaris that now take place. And what about the Arvagas gorge another perfect excursion trip. I see a very useful future for donkeys.