Straight from the donkey's mouth:

"I will carry your picnic, your luggage and even tired little walkers from time to time, but no more than 40kg in all please.
I walk very steadily at 3 to 4km per hour, there's no use in rushing…
I am happy to graze on grass and leaves while you are resting.
At the end of a stage I love grazing some more or munching through 3 to 5kg of hay followed by a ration of barley (1kg). In the morning, please don't forget my breakfast (0.5kg of barley) when you wake up!



How to get on with a donkey?

Approach the donkey from the side, around its shoulder, speak to it, do not make sudden movements or shout. Always speak to the donkey when approaching it because it may be dozing and react strongly to a surprise presence.

A hand stretched out towards its head may be considered as aggressive by the donkey.



Be attentive

Donkeys are born kind! But they are not machines, you must respect its reactions.

It loves to nibble, so careful with your fingers!
An insect is worrying it... take care around the hind legs area.
Do not go behind a donkey when it is eating, especially its beloved barley and even more so when there are other donkeys in the area. It may think that someone has its eyes on its precious ration.




A donkey can be pushed, but not pulled (do not pull on its rein all the time, it is better to wave a stick behind it to make it move forward).

Never run after it if it moves away! You could scare it into running away.
If it does move away, go around it and head it off, or even better, call it (try not to shout though) by shaking a pot with stones in that it could mistake for seeds or feed.
You could also rustle a plastic bag, very few donkeys resist this trick because they think there could be an edible treat inside.



To slow a donkey down

Spread your arms and say "NO" firmly (once and without shouting).

Normally the donkey will stop. Stay still for a few seconds, the donkey should also stay still. Then, ower your arms and move towards it while speaking to it.
Stroke it (not the nose, but the neck or shoulder) and congratulate it.



Donkeys and dogs

Many donkeys do not like dogs very much. They tend to run towards them, head lowered, ears flat, with a threatening air and the dog will generally run between your legs for protection.

If necessary, spread your arms and say "NO" firmly. The best idea though is not to let dogs get too close to a donkey in an enclosure. However, although donkeys do not let dogs too close to them when in their enclosure, which is also their "home", where they would raise and protect their young, they are far more tolerant on the open road where the family dog could even become reasonably friendly with the accompanying donkey.



Setting off

The donkey owner will give you instructions. This will take 1h30 to 2h before setting off. This training phase is very important for learning how to take care of the animal during the walk and at the end of the day. Make the most of it for asking any questions you may have.



 Delicate sections for donkeys on the Stevenson trail

•    Descent to Goudet, a narrow path with barbed wire on both sides (take care with the bags!!!).
•   In Rogleton, before Notre Dame des Neiges, the path gets very muddy (donkeys can sink down to their knees!); stay on the D.154 road to the D.906.
•    Descent from the Finiels summit on the GR 70: avoid this section and take the alternative route called 'Sentier de découverte' (Croix de Malte, altitude 1635).
•    Arrival at Pont de Montvert, very steep descent.
•    Florac: walk behind the barriers along the N.106 road (high volume of traffic, including lorries), the path narrows after a while and it is a good idea to remove some bags to avoid any possible panic.
•    2 km before St. Etienne Vallée Française, possible detour between Cambonnet and St. Etienne to avoid the road. This is not signposted (cross to the other side of the river).
•    Col  St. Pierre, rocky, stony descent which can prove slippery.
•    Arrival in St. Jean du Gard, you have to walk along a portion of road (D907) which can be very busy in summer. Stay to the right and signal to the cars to slow down.