Would you attempt to cross the desert on a camel? I love to do the random things in life so you don’t have to….
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well I’m not in Rome, I’m in the Middle East but the saying still applies. Recently, I did as the Omani’s do and tried out a traditional Bedouin-style experience crossing the desert on camels.
Bedouins date back to ancient times when cars and other transport weren’t available. They travelled on camels and navigated using the stars. Pretty neat, right?
When I explained my latest adventure plan to people they scoffed at the idea of anything longer than a 10-minute tourist camel ride. Determined for a cultural experience, I ignored their judgement and persuaded the ever trusting Sarah & Hayley to come along for the ride, literally, and we headed out of town in search of something new. Three girls heading into the desert, what could possibly go wrong?!
Requesting a camel that wasn’t likely to throw me off, I let our guide, Abdullah, choose a camel to suit me. He sent me in the direction of handsome young camel called Shaheen, which means Falcon in Arabic. He was around 5 years old and had terrible breath, but that was ok. We were soon to be firm friends.
Setting off along the track the first 2km was hilarious as we laughed and took pictures of each other. Soon after this, it started to hurt. Travelling by camel really isn’t comfortable! Abdullah has grown up on camels all his life and certainly looked comfortable as he tucked his legs under his body and got into the swing of things. Those of us who haven’t grown up on camels were shifting in our seats and adjusting to fit the comfiest position as we headed into the deeper sands and navigated the golden dunes.
I think you get the point of the discomfort, I maybe don’t need to elaborate on that without giving you visuals.
Attempting to make friends with Shaheen
The up was fun, the down was terrifying!
Squeals of both fear and excitement wailed from the riders in their back of the convoy as their camels attempt to gain footing in the sand with a long drop below them.
As the last dune approached our guide, Abdullah, looked back at us with a cheeky grin on his face; he knows this area like the back of his hand so he knows exactly what is next. Then, over the crest of the dune the incredibly steep descent is apparent. This kind of dune is perfect for running down, perhaps not holding onto a camel for dear life… At this point you can imagine my friends are pretty pissed at me for getting them into this adventure.
After just having the cast removed from my broken ankle one week prior to this, my leg is still to weak to jump from a camel if they start to roll down the hill. Petrified to injure myself again, It was time to attempt some broken Arabic to express my fear. I’m not entirely sure if it was correct but by his amusement and laughter he got the point as he gestured for the camels to lie down so we could all dismount. Phew!
Out of 5 people riding on camels, only 1 remained on board for that final descent. Naturally the most confident of the gang, but even for Abdullah he soon dismounted also.
At camp that night everyone was feeling a little tender as we enjoyed a meal round the camp fire swapping tales of wild camels and near death experiences – none of which was exactly true. We all had an amazing time but it made us sound slightly more badass and took our mind off the sore ass.
This was a very cool and great experience but perhaps my last urge to be on a camel for the next few years.