A popular, if somewhat controversial, way of seeing the sights in charming Mijas Pueblo is the well-known burro-taxis or donkey-drawn carts and donkey-back rides.
When visiting the area and staying close by in a holiday villa, these colourful and quaint creatures make for many a photographic moment. A little background to, and history of, these enigmatic donkeys is included below.
The donkeys themselves are the Asno Andaluz or Andalusian donkey, a domestic breed of donkey native to the province of Córdoba in Andalusia, Spain. These donkeys are considered to be the oldest of the European breeds, dating back some 3,000 years. They have been used as working animals in various environments for many years.
However, it was back in the 1960s that holidaymakers in the area saw workers returning home with their donkeys and mules, and persuaded them to let the tourists pose with (or on) the animals as an original snapshot of their Spanish holiday. Some visitors even persuaded them, for a generous tip, to take them for a ride in the area. The tip was often higher than their wages and the workers soon caught on to a new way of making a living.
Since then the burro-taxis have become an icon of Mijas Pueblo and no visit is complete without a ride. These days there are apparently sixty of the donkeys available in the streets, all wearing their colourful livery and the municipality even had to build a special parking area for them. The donkeys have their own statue located at the municipal offices in the town and children (and sometimes adults too) love to climb onto the statue to have their photo taken.
Some of the more high tech donkeys even have their own website (in Spanish) these days, where bookings can be made online. Prices range from 10 euros for a donkey-back ride to 15 euros for a ride in a donkey-drawn cart. The six donkeys available on that website belong to one Antonio Jimenez, who inherited the business from his father.
The starting point of all rides is the Plaza de la Virgen de la Peña and from there the burro-taxis run through the historic centre of town. With the donkeys moving at their own pace, this gives plenty of time for tourists to enjoy the whitewashed houses with their colourful flowers blooming on the balconies, and with brief stops along the way to visit the craft and souvenir shops.
There has been some controversy over the donkey taxis over the years, with many people saying the practice is cruel, but each animal is registered with the local municipality and they even have an official number plate. The municipality continues to monitor the working conditions of the animals and they are inspected every six months.
Along with some elegant horse-drawn carriages, the donkey taxis of Mijas are a charming and colourful way to see the town in leisurely style.
Spanish language source: 20 Minutos