Fascimates.com is created as a platform to share wonderful destinations in the world with anyone interested in traveling to one. Run by two photographers the focus of the platform is mainly on the photos. However, taking you with us on our journey by accompanying our photos with the story of our experience and tips to travel is just as important. We look forward featuring travel-friends that we’ve gotten to know along the way on our website as well. Kicking off this category is Dennis, a 30-year-old enjoyer of life and travel enthusiast, living in the enchanting South of the Netherlands.
Dennis is the proud owner of three Poitou donkeys. A Poitou donkey is one of the largest donkey breeds out there. The breed was being used for the production of mules throughout Europe in the 19th and 20th century. Because of increasing mechanisation there was a strong decline for the need for these wonderful animals. In the 70’s there were only tens left in the world. In the years following conservation efforts began and within 30 years there were around 450 Poitou donkeys (which has now slightly dropped).
Dennis bought his first Poitou donkey about 5 years ago with his girlfriend Sandy, and named it Pepito. Three years later they bought two more Poitou donkeys and named those Joey and Igor. They were already three years old meaning that all three donkeys are the same age. They took them for a walk around the area every week and stopped at a bar to drink chocolate milk. The donkeys would wait outside for them to return. They were very friendly and well known by villagers.
One day, Dennis and Sandy went to a donkey meeting nearby in a big tent. They chatted with other attendees and one of those attendees told them a story about traveling to Santiago de Compostella with his donkey and how much impact this had on his life. This inspired the couple a lot and they got excited. Being an adventurous couple and travel enthusiasts, they started thinking about taking their donkeys on a trip they would never forget.
We wanted to take our donkeys on a trip we would never forget.
Putting the plan together, Dennis and Sandy figured they needed to prepare their donkeys for the trip of their life. They had to figure out where to go to, train with the donkeys and buy the required materials. They decided to travel to the beautiful Vosges area in the East of France and bought a trailer since they were traveling by car. Training with the donkeys began. The process took months and during the process they learned there was only one donkey fit to make this journey. Pepito turned out to be a donkey that tried really hard but simply dares nothing. Joey on the other hand turned out to be a donkey that walks at the same pace, all the time. He likes to follow them around but would never take an initiative or walk at the front of the group. Igor turned out to be very brave and not afraid to work hard. Next to that he was the only donkey that was not afraid to stand and drive around in a trailer. He’s the perfect match.
The last weeks of the training with Igor was focused on walking with a saddle in the forest. They would pack the saddle and increase the weight and length every training. At the last training in a forest in The Netherlands they took Igor to a small bridge across water. Igor didn’t cross it, he was scared. Dennis and Sandy sat down and started chatting with each-other, while Igor kept looking around and slowly started to relax. It took over an hour of talking before Igor was brave enough to set a first step on the bridge, which was enough for him to let go of his fear and cross the bridge. Later on, he even jumped over water and seemed not to be afraid of anything anymore. Igor came a long way from standing in front of a manhole cover for 10 minutes to the brave donkey he is right now.
We were so proud to see how Igor had grown during the training process.
Traveling to the Vosges went very well. They made some stops along the way and had a lot a fun together. They were able to borrow a special saddle for Igor for the trip from an old man in France. They arrived at his house and practiced a whole day with the saddle and Igor. In the evening Igor stayed in a stable and Dennis and Sandy spent time with the old saddle man. There was no television, instead they were peeling nuts and talked about life.
The big journey started the next day. Reach the top was their goal and they were going to give it their best. The way up took a few days and along the way they stayed in lodges overnight. Roads were much heavier than expected. Covered in big rocks it was hard to walk on for Dennis and Sandy, let alone for Igor.
Igor didn’t complain and walked everywhere his human friends walked. Much tougher than they experienced in The Netherlands but Igor gave it his all. It was so impressive. Igor must have been so proud on himself as well, seeing the things he had done. He’s really gotten to know himself.
The weather during the trip was rather disappointing and made it quite challenging from time to time. Rain, mist and storm was rather common during the whole trip. However, Igor was very loyal and by continuing without seeming to care about the weather he also motivated Dennis and Sandy to keep their eyes on the goal. This was a family trip.
Igor was the perfect company and nothing seemed to be able to stop him. On rare occasions however, he stopped and didn’t move. It turned out this could mean two things. He had a rock in his hoof, or he needed a hug.
One time, when they almost reached the top of a mountain, they noticed they took the wrong way. Igor refused to turn around, he wanted to continue. It took a while and they had to try their hardest by talking with Igor to make him turn around and go back.
Traveling with a donkey in the Vosges was a whole new experience. Time flew by, completely forgetting about the regular busy daily life. There were no duties, everything they did was because they wanted to do it. The surrounding was very quiet, and during diner there was a lot of time for a good conversation with each-other. They were stepping back in time where they had to adjust themselves to the pace of this beautiful animal, instead of the production speed of the machines. It was a life changing experience and they have learned a lot from each-other.
The trip was amazing and they all had a lot of fun. Igor went on the trip being a boy and returned as a man that conquered storms. While talking with Dennis about the trip we can see how proud he is of Igor, and what a great time he had with Sandy. While people around them told them that they would be crazy and it would not be possible to make a trip like this with a donkey, they did it anyway. And what a trip it was.
Everyone told us we were crazy and not able to make this trip with Igor.
Dennis still takes Igor, Joey and Pepito for a walk on a daily basis. He just has to wave with the head collar and Igor comes running towards him. In the near future Dennis would love to give other people the experience he had with Igor by taking them on a trip.
We would like to sincerely thank Dennis for willing to share his story and photos he took along his trip.
If you’re also interested in sharing a travel experience feel free to contact us.