Camel Ride: An Up and Down Experience

Blog entry created by: Meagan

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Egypt: land of pyramids, pharaohs, sand… and camels!  The few camels I had seen in my life prior to my Egyptian experience were the inactive, miserable looking kind that you can find at your local zoo.  But upon our arrival at the Giza Pyramids I was able to see camels in their natural habitat: the dry, hot sand dunes!  The camels were (not surprisingly) much more active and a bit more at home than the ones I’ve seen in Utah.  Our 11 year old guide, Selma (who is a student of Amy, our wonderful host in Cairo) insisted that we must ride the camels while we are here.  She was very persistent, saying we could not leave Egypt without riding camels!  We, always ready for an adventure, agreed that it was an experience we should have.

Refining Our Haggling Skills

Once we sorted out who of us wanted to ride and for how long (we opted for a short 15 minute ride as opposed to an hour through the dunes) we found a spot full of potential camels.  We sent Selma in to ask how much it would be, seeing as she was the only one in the group who was fluent in Arabic.  The men who owned the camels told her it would be 5 Egyptian Pounds (EP) for the short ride. Then, realizing it was the wealthy looking white people that were interested in riding, quickly upped his prices to 50 EP per person for the short ride.  Still not too bad, about $10 each, but we were put off by the fact that the price had increased to 10x the original price.  And the haggling began!  We ended up getting 4 camels (most of us sharing) for 20 EP per camel for a 15 minute ride.

Let the fun begin!

Getting on a camel is much more frightening then getting on a horse.  The camel is sitting when you get on, because it’s way too tall to just clamber onto. But the getting on isn’t too bad.  It’s the camel standing up that caused me to feel slightly alarmed.  When the camel gets up it feels like it’s attempting to remove you from its back by throwing you off the front.  Luckily Jenny and I (who were sharing a camel) clung to it well enough to remain on board.  But this was only the beginning of what would turn out to be quite a bumpy ride!

“Jenny, how bad would it be if this camel tripped right now?”

The walk of a camel is also much different than that of a horse, making it awfully uncomfortable to ride.  It was this awkward gait, along with being freakishly high off the ground, that got Jenny and I joking about what would happen if the camel tripped.  It was a long fall!  We came to the conclusion that the camel wouldn’t trip; this was its domain.  What could be more at home than a camel in the desert?  There was simply no way this camel was going down… right?  We thought so.  But we spoke too soon.

Karma

The man who was leading the camel took a turn onto a particularly rocky looking pathway.  Good thing this camel was so secure… psyche!  The camel started down a slightly lower part of the road (if you could call it a road), in an attempt to take the most stable route.  But the attempt was in vain.  The next thing I knew the camel stumbled and we began to descend, a little too quickly, towards the rocky ground.  Fortunately for us, we were right next to a ledge that was about 2 or 3 feet above ground level, the perfect height for leaping off a falling camel onto!  And leap we did!  In the blink of an eye Jenny and I were both off that camel and as far away from it as we could get, fearing we could be smashed if the camel were to completely topple over.  In the time it had taken us to jump off, all the camel owners (who were walking with us) had rushed towards us, yelling and making sure we were ok.  We were a little shaken, but otherwise unscathed.

Yeah I’m fine- No! PUT ME DOWN!

The camel owners had the camel back on its feet in a matter of seconds, and after making sure we were ok proceeded to help us back onto the camel.  I was wondering where the camel was going to sit so that we could get back on when I was taken by surprise by the camel owner.  Before I knew what was happening he picked me up and was hoisting me onto the camel.  This sudden change in events caught me completely off guard.  I was completely alarmed at the fact that this man, who didn’t look particularly strong, was lifting me onto a camel that was taller than both of us.  Fearing that he would drop me, I started saying “No!” as forcefully as I could.  He didn’t listen.  Thankfully, he didn’t drop me, and I was back on the camel in no time!  Jenny was lifted on right behind me, and our trek continued.

Kissing the ground

The rest of the camel ride was pretty uneventful.  I was on edge the entire time, having lost any trust I had in the camel the moment I was dumped from its back.  I was on my guard, watching for any signs of another stumble; luckily there were no more incidents.  After walking around for awhile more, including a brief photo shoot in front of the pyramids, our camel ride was at an end.  Personally, I was grateful to be back on the ground :) It was definitely a different experience!  Lots of people who’ve been to Egypt have ridden camels, but how many can say they’ve fallen off??? :)

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 | Categories: Egypt, How People Travel, recreation

 

5 comments

  • David Manglass says:

    Excellent story, Meagan. Sounds like an experience!

  • Amy McMahon says:

    The timing of the fall was amazing. From behind it actually looked gracefully intentional! Bonus points to you for getting back on (even if you had no choice).

  • Jeremy says:

    Yes, and camel riding never really gets any easier. I had one which I named Conrad for a couple of years, and he made it his goal to throw me off any time he could. They’re particularly disagreeable animals, but useful for those long Saharan treks!

  • Teresa Teresa says:

    Jeremy, I had no idea camels threw people off. This one just tripped…you are brave to keep getting back on!

  • Emily Dwight says:

    WOW!! What a rocky sounding ride!! You girls are amazing. Pretty soon you’ll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound… oops! wrong generation?! Seriously though, so much fun to read all about your experiences!


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