BEHIND a small wooden gate in the hills above La Cala de Mijas on the Costa del Sol you’ll find the sort of place donkeys might dream about.
Because it is here at Donkey Dreamland these long-eared velvet-nosed creatures are given a second chance at life.
Since opening back in August 2020, the organisation has been involved in the rescue of over 50 donkeys. Not all have been processed at the Rescue Centre and Sanctuary because if the distressed donkey is located far away, the team finds other solutions.
But more than 40 have been offered sanctuary at Donkey Dreamland, many of them rescued from a life of abuse.
Of these, 25 donkeys have been found forever homes after being cared for and restored to full health – the perfect result for an organisation whose mission is to ‘Rescue, Recuperate and Rehome’.
“All are living the lives they deserve with families who care for and pamper them,” Amaya Isert, the founder and driving force of Donkey Dreamland, tells the Olive Press.
The Granada native says she returned to Spain to fulfil a lifelong dream of creating a donkey sanctuary after “sailing the seven seas for 20 years as a cook on luxury yachts.
“I always had this project at the back of my mind. Donkeys have always had a huge place in both my life and my heart,” she explains, recalling memories of playing with them as a child in the Alpujarra.
The sanctuary covers two hectares of land, and has a large stable block and several outdoor fenced enclosures, each named after Andalucian cities. The charity is staffed by volunteers, almost all of whom are expats living in the area, and is funded through donations as well as through paid visits to the sanctuary.
Different types of visits are available via the website (as well as Airbnb Experiences). They are not only a way of generating much needed funds, but – judging from testimonials and the 100 percent 5-star Airbnb rating – they’re a success with visitors and donkeys alike.
Isert and the volunteers are on hand to share their knowledge of donkeys, along with the often heartbreaking stories of the lives individual donkeys had before they were rescued.
One donkey called Olivia was an especially sad case when she arrived at the sanctuary. The Andalucian donkey had been abandoned in the area of Campanillas (Malaga) and left to starve. Olivia needed expensive surgery. Donkey Dreamland shared her story on Facebook and raised €2685 towards the vet costs.
There are currently 15 donkeys recovering at the sanctuary, so book a visit and find out more about these lovely creatures.
As well as tours of the sanctuary and daytime walks, Donkey Dreamland organises special activities. Upcoming events this summer include Dinner for the Donkeys on July 29, and Full Moon Walks with the Donkeys on August 1 and August 30.
For reservations, prices, and more information visit www.donkeydreamland.com.