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Escargoline - donkeys for the mobility impaired

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
Nov 2018: Kumano Kodo (partial)
Jul 2019: San Miniato to Bolsena
#1
I wanted to respond to the person who asked about doing the Camino in a wheelchair a couple days ago, but it took me awhile to find this information & now I can't find his post.

There is a French organization that has trained three donkeys to pull chariots (escargoline) along the Camino. It requires a team, one to lead the donkey and one to follow.

Escargoline.jpg

They estimate that you can do 85% of the GR-65 (Le Puy route) and 95% of the Camino Frances.

Caveat: I met people walking with donkeys, and heard about the chariots, but I haven't actually seen a chariot in action. And I have no idea what the cost would be.

Here's the info I've found on line. It's in French, but Google translate does a decent job on the sites:

L'escargoline sur le chemin de Saint Jacques - background info from the Miam Miam Dodo folks
Randoline: Constructeurs de bonheur - This is the organization

It appears they also work with people who want to volunteer their time to accompany a team on the Camino.
 
Last edited:

Nomad Pack

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
French, North, Original and from Andorra through the Pyrenees.
All With mi Burro
#2
May be an old post but as a donkey Camino expert I have to reply.
Firstly I drive my donkey sometimes with a self built wagon so have to say what a "lots of bad language" terrible idea this is.
I'll make some simple points to avoid writing a book and anyone is welcome to question me further.

1. Donkey shoes will need replacing
2. Unless you have experience walking long distances with animals... Good luck.
3. Poor donkeys then have to endure a trip back to France in a truck?
4. Donkey walks at donkey speed.
5. The "chariot" weights at least 50kg probably more, add baggage, add people then expect donkey to pull you uphill... Not gonna happen.
6. Claiming 95% of the Frances... Hahaha.. Clearly the company hasn't bothered to actually try that. Even I struggle with small bridges when donkey says no.
7. Donkeys are very social and have strong bonds so taking them from their friends to be forced to work by strangers.... Sad donkey.
8. Donkey will need oats plus their normal grazing to pull all day and stay healthy.
9. So the prospective donkey chariot pilgrim is gonna have a lot of extra work, finding donkey size shoes which is practically impossible in spain, finding good grazing for lunch and night, brushing, cleaning the donkeys hooves, taking care of the harness, watering, maintaining the cart, plus more I could list.
10. If your even considering this please contact me first. I can arrange a donkey Camino with my own animals and guide the whole way. Please don't ever rent donkeys, the companies don't have the animals best interests and I've never seen a donkey receiving any money for their efforts.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPdP-Burgos, 2015)
Camino Frances (Burgos-Sarria, 2018)
Sarria-Santiago (Oct. 2018)
#3
Thank you for a well-informed and factual answer. I have no intention of ever using a donkey on the Camino 😊, should I be fortunate enough to get back. But it's always nice to see a response posted to an unusual question by someone who has experience. Hopefully this helps others considering pack animals. Buen Camino!
 

CAJohn

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Sept/Oct 2019
#5
We used to use donkeys in the bogs in Ireland to help haul out turf. I would rather just do the work myself. Donkeys can be way more stubborn than people. Nowadays, I see donkeys more as pets in Ireland. Better for all concerned (or at least for my blood pressure). And despite my frustrations working with them, I have always had a soft spot for them. They really are cute.

I will say that those donkeys would do most anything for my youngest sister. For the rest of us, good luck! (And none of us was ever mean to the donkeys. We were already warned that would lead to more stubbornness).
 

Nomad Pack

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
French, North, Original and from Andorra through the Pyrenees.
All With mi Burro
#6
We used to use donkeys in the bogs in Ireland to help haul out turf. I would rather just do the work myself. Donkeys can be way more stubborn than people. Nowadays, I see donkeys more as pets in Ireland. Better for all concerned (or at least for my blood pressure). And despite my frustrations working with them, I have always had a soft spot for them. They really are cute.

I will say that those donkeys would do most anything for my youngest sister. For the rest of us, good luck! (And none of us was ever mean to the donkeys. We were already warned that would lead to more stubbornness).
Donkeys are not stubborn at all. https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org....r-owners/understanding-donkey-characteristics

If you have a donkeys trust they will do practically anything for you.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
#8
@Nomad Pack you say “Even I struggle with small bridges when donkey says no.” Maybe that’s the kind of stubbornness being referred to;-)
 

Nomad Pack

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
French, North, Original and from Andorra through the Pyrenees.
All With mi Burro
#9
Well she's most happiest when eating but for example when she hasn't had oats for some time and I get her a bag of them she will start making a squealing sort of noise like the beginning of the bray and is clearly excited, nuzzling me until pour them in the bucket. Other times as soon as she sees me in the morning she gives me a big eaww and will put her head against my chest wanting to be scratched. The foal is always super excited to see us in the morning, he will make his squeaky immature eaww and then start to run around playing chase with my German shepherd. The only time I could say she was obviously sad is when she got an eye infection in her good eye and it swelled up like an apple and she couldn't see as she's half blind in the other eye. So for two days she just wanted to stand still head down looking depressed. Generally I would say she displays a sort of peacefully content attitude, she follows along at her own pace when walking stopping sometimes when she sees something especially tasty and I wait for her to catch up.
 

Nomad Pack

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
French, North, Original and from Andorra through the Pyrenees.
All With mi Burro
#10
@Nomad Pack you say “Even I struggle with small bridges when donkey says no.” Maybe that’s the kind of stubbornness being referred to;-)
It would seem that way but its more about fear, she doesn't like crossing bridges unless you could land a 747 on it, so when donkeys are scared of something they freeze and have a good long think about it before deciding what to do. She strangely prefers to cross through river rather than the bridge.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#11
It would seem that way but its more about fear, she doesn't like crossing bridges unless you could land a 747 on it, so when donkeys are scared of something they freeze and have a good long think about it before deciding what to do. She strangely prefers to cross through river rather than the bridge.
Ahahahahahaha, they are so cute :D :D :D
 
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances
SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia, May 2016
C. Frances, Sept 2017
Via de La Plata (spring, 2019)
#13
I had a donkey when I was age 12 - 17. She and I hiked together, her following me like a dog, or sometimes me following her. I didn't use her as a pack animal; she was my companion. And sometimes I rode her. She was very expressive with her eyes, her ears and her voice! I miss her so much and would really, really love to have a donkey again someday. I loved stopping at that one albergue/bar on the Camino Frances (can't remember the name of it or the town) with a big lawn and a bunch of animals, including geese, ducks and a couple of donkeys, mingling among the tables of pilgrims. I watched the donkeys at a fountain faucet, one turning the spigot with his teeth while the other one drank from the bucket below. The owner came out and yelled at them.... apparently this was a common stunt of theirs. I hope I run into you sometime on the trail Nomad Pack. Would love to say hello and give your burros a scratch.
 
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