Santorini was one of the Greek Island destinations on our Honeymoon Cruise and it was a stunning place. Looking back, my Santorini photos are some of the most beautiful from the whole trip. However, I have a serious problem with Santorini and will not be returning there.
If you’re not already aware, Santorini (along with a lot of places actually) make use of donkeys and mules as tourist taxis. However, this is particularly problematic on Santorini because of the terrible conditions the donkeys are forced to work in and the especially hard journey that they make. When we were there in April (not even peak summer) it was already far too hot, and there was no shade and no access to water at the donkey stations. The donkeys taxi tourists up and down 588 slippery stone steps, which I know to be incredibly strenuous because we walked down them ourselves and were exhausted and overheated from the trip. That was just one trip and downhill, so I can only imagine how horrific it would be to make the trip in both directions, all day long, in the full summer sun, and with a fully grown adult riding on my back!
It’s such a cruel industry which exists to support tourism on the island, but is completely unnecessary when there are alternative ways to reach the cliff-top towns (there is a cable car, the steps which can be walked, and there are also speedboats round to more accessible parts of the island). I even believe cruise lines should consider boycotting it from their itineraries because, realistically, the industry is likely to continue as long as thousands of day-trippers land in port every day.
I’m a long-time supporter of The Donkey Sanctuary, and was aware of their past work to improve conditions for donkeys on the island, but as it turns out, things have deteriorated a lot recently:
“We recently visited the island of Santorini to assess the conditions of these hardworking animals. Despite our long-standing efforts, we were dismayed by the conditions we witnessed.” – The Donkey Sanctuary
They are now working hard on this campaign again, and if it’s an issue you care about you can support their efforts. Read about their Santorini campaign here.
I’ll admit I don’t usually post about this sort of thing, but I am particularly passionate about this issue and wanted to make it known that I do not recommend Santorini as a holiday destination. Sort yourselves out, Santorini!