I've just seen a documentary in which a guy trekks through some rugged terrain while he has his cargo on a donkey. It's a pretty cool and versatile animal overall.

What are some pros and cons of trekking with a donkey? The obvious disadvantage is having to keep a donkey (unless you can rent one some places) but are there any other? E.g. can they eat brush along the way or would you need to bring food for it?

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    Unless you can take proper care of the donkey and feel affectionate towards it, perhaps you should resign yourself to carrying your stuff yourself. – ab2 Dec 6 at 13:51
  • @ab2 Maybe more important: does it feel affectionate to you, i.e. will it listen? – Jan Doggen Dec 6 at 13:53
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    This is a very broad question and just googling for the Trekking with a donkey title gives you plenty of information. What more can we tell you? – Jan Doggen Dec 6 at 13:54
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    I am no expert on donkeys, but the donkey is going to do a lot of hard work for you and I doubt that he/she can find enough high quality food (i.e., with protein) along the trail and around the campsites to support that hard work. Wild equines obviously manage, but they forage widely. As for the question itself, you need to say where you are going to trek, how long you will be out and the likely weather conditions and what experience you have with animals. @Jan Doggen suggested a good source, and if you have some questions after reading the source, I hope someone here can answer them. – ab2 Dec 6 at 14:08

Trekking with a pack animal is not something to be undertaken lightly. If it is private property the land owner will define requirements and likely provide the animal, usually with a guide/handler.

If it is public property, there are rules that very drastically by location. But in general.

Unlike human visitors, Equines (horses, mules, donkeys, and burros) must have their feet cleaned and be on a special diet several days prior to venturing on to the trails.

Feed: Clean trailers, hooves, coat, mane, and tails prior to entering the park. Feed stock weed-free forage or processed feed a few days before the trip. To prevent introducing non-native plants in the park, use only certified weed-free forage— hay, straw, and mulch. Proof of certification tags required. Forage may not be taken beyond trailheads. Use pelletized feed, hay cubes, and grain products in the backcountry. Do not leave feed on the ground; use a feedbag or tarp. Pack out unused feed. Grazing not permitted. Source

Additionally Equines are only allowed on specific trails.

Where an animal must carry its own food, it quickly becomes problematic for length of adventure. Depending on the animal and the terrain, a pack animal who is only carrying their own food, will have a max range of 5 to 10 days.

Related What is the feed limit for various pack animals?

Donkeys are not cars or bicycles. They have minds of their own, and they are considerably stronger than you. If you are going to use a donkey for trekking, you had better know enough about managing them so that you know what to do when they stop dead in the trail and refuse to proceed. Or, when they find a convenient tree and proceed to scrape off all their pack bags.

On a dark note, pack animals are subject to the same accidents on the trail that people are, but nobody is going to provide a helicopter to rescue one and take it to a vet hospital. Everyone I know who travels the backcountry with a pack animal (donkeys included) carries a firearm with them, and is mentally prepared to euthanize the animal and bury it, should the need arise.

Donkeys will find browse along the trail, but for this reason they are prohibited from some areas because they are hard on the local plant life. In general you will need to provide at least supplementary fodder.

You can definitely go trekking with a donkey, but you really need to spend some time apprenticing with someone who already knows about their care and management in the backcountry. Consider working with a llama instead of donkey. You'll still need training, but I've been told by outfitters that they are much more tractable than donkeys, and don't have as much of an impact on the local vegetation.

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    I will second the info about "refusing to proceed." I lived in a mountainous area where the locals depended on donkeys for carrying everything. If a donkey gets it in its head that it doesn't want to move, it is as if they grow taproots into the ground. Later in life I had horses and donkeys in Virginia. You could almost always get a stubborn horse to move with a good lean or shove. Donkey? Nope. Even though they weigh 1/4 what a horse weighs, they're much more difficult to motivate. Oh, and they are super smart, mischievous, and can be vindictive bastards. I love them. – That Idiot Dec 7 at 13:50

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