Friday’s Fact About: the beloved donkey

We have a soft spot for the local donkey here at, following our day out to the Argonaftis donkey farm in neighbouring Kelokedera last year.  These unassuming, humble & hard working animals have been around the island of Cyprus for years and have played an essential role in its history.

Donkey excursion

Donkeys used to densely populate Cyprus in their thousands, however numbers have dwindled over the past 40 years or so as their use has become almost redundant.  In the past, donkeys played an essential role in farming, transportation of goods and humans, and more.  Sandra in the office fondly tells me that her mother in law from Kouklia travelled to and from all the neighbouring villages by donkey, back in the day.  Don’t forget that the first motorway in Cyprus was only complete as recently as 1985 (although it now has the most motorway km per capita among all EU members!).

Donkeys were used for farming because they were as big and as strong as mules (donkeys average at around 400-500 pounds) and since owning a tractor was difficult and horses were limited in numbers and expensive to buy. They are also very hard working & strong animals; proven by their ability to carry heavy loads of copper, olives, cereals and other produce.  So important in the world of agriculture, donkeys used to have the same worth as large areas of fields, and quite often these would be exchanged by farmers.

But in the 70s came the mechanical vehicle 😦 and so the donkey population has declined, and in many cases, unfortunately, so too the treatment of the donkey.  Thankfully there are some wonderful sanctuaries dedicated to the care and protection of these beautiful animals, notably the Donkey Sanctuary in Pano Kivides in Limassol which was founded in 2007.  Visit their website to see the wonderful work that they do, or dig deep and donate to help them continue their services.  Unfortunately in 2012 their visitor centre burned down, and being a non-profit organisation they couldn’t afford to re-build it, however they do still continue to care for their donkeys in holding areas.

Famously, there is an area in northern Cyprus called ‘Karpas Peninsula’ where there are around 500 feral Cypriot donkeys that live freely and are protected by law.

Mark enjoying his trip to the donkey farm last year

A fantastic way to get to know the local donkey and even have a ride on one, is via Argonaftis Tour’s donkey farm in Kelokedera.  Some of the team joined in this ‘village tour‘ excursion last summer and we all had to admit that it was one of the best days out any of us had had on the island!  The donkeys there are well cared for (and all individually named – we were privileged enough to meet Angelina Jolie on our visit!), the area is stunning and the hosts have you smiling from ear to ear from start to finish.  The day trip involves local wine & food tasting, donkey riding, a ride on a village bus (or, chicken bus), a tour of the beautiful Sinti Monastery, all followed by an incredibly fun Cypriot night with meze meal and local dancing.  We urge you to go!


And so, Cyprus donkey, we salute you – and those who continue to care for you.

We guarantee you’ll never be bored at Aphrodite Hills:

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