Would You, Could you, Ride a Mule?

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Moloka’i, Hawaii

I am not the biggest fan of riding animals. The last time I went horseback riding in Ecuador with my mother and sister I decided it just wasn’t something I would seek out in the future. Some people love horse riding, I could take it or leave it.

When I was too lazy to hike back up Colca Canyon I was petrified to learn that mules are edge walkers and I was looking straight down cliffs.


Not really my idea of fun.


So when the Moloka’i Visitors Bureau booked me on a mule ride down a valley in Kalaupapa National Park with Kalaupapa Rare Adventure I was not looking forward to it at all.


I don’t want to die.


Sure I know it will happen but I don’t want it to happen on a mule’s back, I’d rather fall down a cliff by my own clumsiness. Well actually I’d rather not fall off a cliff at all.


Please don’t let me die.



But it’s one of the biggest activities in Moloka’i so I didn’t want to miss out and hopped up on my mule Poele – which means Twilight in Hawaiian. The ride down was at a good pace and the mules stopped every once in a while so I could take awkward iPhone photos. It turns out I was worried for no reason.


I didn’t die.


Molokai Mule Ride

Actually I really enjoyed it. Unlike my Peru experience, the trail is well established and within the forest. I didn’t have to look down the 1,600-foot cliffs wondering how close I was to my death. I was able to just sit and enjoy the view, one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.



Disclosure: I was a guest of the Moloka’i Visitors Bureau but they did not ask me to write a favourable review or share so many iPhone photos.


Join the Conversation

  1. I’ve never felt the need to ride any animal, but I’m glad you did, so that I won’t have to!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m done with horses and elephants but I’m okay with donkeys and maybe camels, I don’t know I have never done it.

  2. This post cracked me up. I rode a donkey in Petra and was certain it was the most miserable experience of both our lives. Glad you survived!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh yes I remember the donkeys at Petra, they try to convince you that you need one but I managed the stairs and was okay. Actually there they discourage tourists from taking the donkeys because their footprints ruin the stairs.

  3. Annie - FootTracker says:

    I am not good with cliffs and edges either…though on a horse I feel much safer (because they are pretty sturdy).

    haha, glad you made it and love reading about your mule ride. I want to try to ride the elephant one day.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Just don’t do it in Thailand, those animals are not treated well at all.

  4. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    I went horse backing riding in the DR and it changed my feelings about being on the back of an animal. Maybe it just depends on the trail?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Did it make you feel better or worse?

  5. InsideJourneys says:

    I’ve never been on a mule but I’m contemplating taking a donkey the next time I go up the Blue Mountains!
    A certain amount of trust is needed when you put your life on an animal’s back and if you’ve never been on a mule or donkey, it does take a little to get used to. Bravo for trying!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The mule ride in Peru was just slightly short of terrifying but this one was easy.

  6. Ava Apollo says:

    The answer for me is no, no I cannot rule a mule. After a few mule-riding excursions in Hawaii and NorCal as a kid, I think i’m done. The sore bum after isn’t particularly awesome, either.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I was a bit sore the next day but not as bad as when I had ridden horses.

  7. Ayngelina,
    I have heard so many times about riding mules in Molokai. Like you, I am not a horse riding fan. I horse made me fell of the saddle in Costa Rica. I have been scared since that. But your post shows how this is something I can do. You don’t see the cliffs plus I don’t think the animals are running down the hill.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh no if I fell off a horse I would definitely not get back on one.

      In our group we had people of all ages and capacities. The mules go really slow and actually stop every so often, I think they sense we want to take photos!

  8. Roy Marvelous says:

    Sounds like fun! I love riding animals (as long as it’s done humanely)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Once in San Cristobal Mexico I should have walked away from a horse ride, I felt kind of uneasy about it as the horses didn’t look completely healthy and I really should have gone with my gut.

  9. Chrystal McKay says:

    I also would rather avoid riding animals. Not because I’ve had a bad experience or anything, I just don’t really like the feel of it. I’d rather hike. And horses kind of scare me- they always bite me!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There was a couple that hiked because the husband weighed over 250 and they don’t allow the mules to carry more than that, they were fine on the way down but it’s a pretty steep climb up. I ran into them afterwards and she threw up on the return.

  10. I don’t think I have ever been on a mule and for sure have no interest in riding one as they are so super slow! I much prefer horses. Although if a tourism board in Hawaii asked me to ride a mule, I would. Definitely 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I actually like mules because they are slow, I don’t want to gallop!

  11. Ron | Active Planet Travels says:

    We almost hired horses here in Costa Rica as a more “authentic” way to cross the jungle. Although it seemed like it would be really cool and a fantastic way to cross, we just weren’t willing to pay $140 per person when we could pay $8 for a bus…quite steep for Costa Rica in my book.

    On the other hand you definitely seemed like you had a great time! I like Annie’s idea though, I want to ride an elephant then slide down his trunk like Tarzan! 😀

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      In this case there is no road, only two ways down hiking or a mule. It wasn’t going down that I was worried about but going back up.

  12. This is why we have Recreational Vehicles now. Much more comfortable than a mule – and it has a kitchen and sleeping area. 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would LOVE to do an RV trip but unfortunately that won’t get you down the valley as here is no road.

  13. “Sure I know it will happen but I don’t want it to happen on a mule’s back, I’d rather fall down a cliff by my own clumsiness.” – This made me giggle a little too hard! 😀

    I’m not a big fan of riding animals either. I’ve never been one for horse riding or anything like that. Plus I’m such a big girl I always imagine I’d end up crushing something like a mule! Haha.

    You got some gorgeous shots though!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am still not crazy about horses but I think it’s changed my mind about mules – especially when I am too lazy to hike up a hill myself.

  14. Claire and Laura says:

    We rode horses along the bush and beach of Australia and saw some amazing views. I guess it pays to do the fearful and adventurous! (Even though ours didn’t turn out to be life-threatening at all, either)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Did you gallop? Because that scares the bejebus out of me.

  15. Anthony @ Culture-ist Mag says:

    The vistas on the mule’s back look incredible! However, I’m notoriously afraid of heights, and that’s when I’m counting on my own feet. Not sure I’d rather count on the mule’s.

    1. There’s a good chance I’m a lot older than you. I took the mule ride 2 weeks ago and I’m ready to go again! I dislike heights but “Koa” was calm, cool, and collected. The views minimized any height issues and there is vegetation to prevent riders from looking straight down. I’d put my money on a mule over a horse [and I do like horses!] any day 🙂

  16. ehalvey says:

    LOL, the first thing I noticed was the pixelation of the mule’s derriere!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That was unintended 🙂

  17. This looks/sounds awesome! I actually really love horses and horseback riding. I *almost* talked my dad into buying me a horse in eighth grade. I’ve never been on a mule, but I imagine I’d enjoy that, too – especially if it was in Hawaii!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well it’s the only way into the valley unless you hike, that’s enough to make me love mules.

  18. Solo Female Nomad says:

    Donkeys – now that is more my style! A bit more calmer AND lower than Camels! The area looks absolutely beautiful too so I will have to visit some day.

  19. Cliffs aside, I think this looks like a lot of fun! I have ridden horses and an elephant, don’t think I will do the elephant again but definitely have fond memories of the horse rides in Brazil.

  20. Kieu ~ GQ trippin says:

    I think I’m done with camels and elephants from this trip but I think I can probably manage a mule. LOL. Looks safe and fun.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think a mule may be easier to ride as well 🙂

  21. Michael Hodson says:

    I haven’t commented in forever and I suck. I also took that mule up that big ass valley in Peru… it was slightly scary 😉

  22. Pingback: Lots to think about... | GeoPosted
  23. The one and only time I went horseback riding it ended with a helicopter ride to the hospital. Turns out I’m severely allergic to them and I’d rather not test whether the same goes for mules (I highly suspect it does). However, riding an elephant might be worth the risk.

  24. Leslie (Downtown Traveler) says:

    What a beautiful view! Glad this mule odyssey wasn’t as treacherous as Colca Canyon 🙂

  25. When I was in Santorini I had 2 chances to ride a mule or donkey (not sure which it was) up a cliff. I probably would’ve gone for it except the girl I was hanging out with didn’t want to wait, so we hiked. I really don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it knowing I don’t really like riding horses. Glad you survived!

  26. David Urmann says:

    Seems like where you most need one like Colca Canyon or the Grand Canyon is where it would be least relaxing to ride. I think I ll stick to walking slowly.

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