Don’t Ride the Donkeys in Petra (or horses or camels!)

If you’re traveling to Jordan and planning on making a visit to Petra then you’re sure to be offered over and over again a donkey ride or a ride on a mule, horse or camel. It may seem like a smart choice, especially when the cart rides are advertised as “free” from the main gates to the Treasury (distance 0.9 km), but there are many reasons why you should turn down the option to use the four-legged transportation and opt to walk.

Exhausted donkey with cart and no food or water in sight

First of all, you’ll notice right away the shape the 700+ donkeys and mules, etc. roaming Petra with their masters are in is far less than optimal. Donkeys that are exhausted, with abrasions, bleeding, far too skinny, sweating profusely and being beaten with sticks (some even have nails attached to them) to make them go up stairs faster are far too common of sights in Petra.

images source:

You’ll also notice that there is absolutely no concern for the natural limits of the animals either. Did you know, on average, the average donkey can carry up to 50 kg on its back or can pull up to twice its bodyweight on level ground (source)? Just take a look around Petra and you will see these donkeys are being completely overexerted beyond their capacity.

Overwight tourist on donkey - non PIXELATED.JPG
image source: Brooke Charity

If the condition of the donkeys doesn’t get to you, you will also notice that many of these donkeys are being led by children. These children are forced to work instead of going to school. This may make you want to hand over your pocket change to them to help, but you’re actually doing the opposite. If you financially support these child laborers, they will continue to be put out to work instead of the possibility of receiving an education.

child labor donkey petra
image source:

These are just a few of the many reasons why you should say no to the irresponsible animal tourism at this popular Jordanian tourism destination.

How You Can Help

petra report animal abuse child labor
Warning sign seen at the entrance to Petra (source: @elephantsoulcrafts on Instagram)

If you spot animal abuse, child labor, or any other prohibited or cruel activities, be sure to get in contact with the local authorities by phone, email or by heading back to the Visitor Center to speak to someone. If you can get proof by taking pictures, this is also helpful.

Petra Contact Information

Tourist Police: +962 775 483 671



Other Ways to Speak Out

To spread the word about any abuses, be sure to contact relevant tourism boards, your embassy, organizations like UNESCO ( and also share your experience on TripAdvisor.

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