How to Survive a Camel Ride

people riding on camels

[Sam Robinson] / [Photodisc] / Thinkstock

At some point in your traveling career you will be lead to believe that riding a plodding ungulate through the desert is something that must be crossed off your travel bucket list. I was like this once. My more experienced camel-riding veteran travelers tried to warn me, but I wouldn’t listen. Determined to realize my dreams of reenacting Lawrence of Arabia, I signed up for a two-day camel trek through Wadi Rum in Jordan. I’m not sure I will ever go near a camel again. However, if I do, I will be taking the following “lessons learned” into account.

Wear Padded Shorts
Maybe it’s because I signed up with a less than reputable tour company who didn’t believe in cushions, maybe it’s because I was on a camel for two days, or maybe I am just really susceptible to chaffing. Whatever the reason, the next time I get on a camel, I will be wearing padded bike shorts underneath my pants. No joke.

Find a Reputable Tour Company
Our guide was a very pleasant older gentleman who spoke no English. He was very charming, but we had absolutely no way of communicating with him. I have no doubt that there is not a soul who knows the desert better than this man, but it would have been nice to perhaps have a translator so we could understand all of the marvelous things he was telling us. At least, I think they were marvelous. Maybe he was talking about what he had for dinner the night before. We’ll never know. We had a few other mishaps that, while adding to the thrill of our adventure, made us wish that we had signed up with a company that was a little more prepared. Do your research. We should have.

Bring a Book
Within five minutes of our two day trek through Wadi Rum, I was really wishing that I had brought something to entertain myself with. I had envisioned hanging out with my fellow travelers and gossiping about life while exploring the desert on our trusty (but plodding) ungulates. However, we were stretched out so far apart from one another that it was impossible to hear anything over the roar of the wind. Next time, I’m bringing a book. Probably Lawrence of Arabia and I will be sure to have a friend take a photo of me on a camel reading Lawrence of Arabia while pretending to be Lawrence of Arabia. It will be amazing.

Take at Least One Lawrence of Arabia Inspired Photo
If you take a camel trek through the desert and you don’t pretend to be Lawrence of Arabia, you are missing the point.

Camera Case
Seriously. Don’t risk losing all of your awesome Lawrence of Arabia inspired photos. Keep your camera gear safe, snug, and clean during your camel trek with the Cam(el)safe. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Sign up for a Shorter Trip
I tend to be a little overzealous and enthusiastic about things I know nothing about. This is why I stupidly signed up for a two-day camel trek without ever having been near a camel before. I wish I had signed up for a two-hour camel trek instead.

Don’t Bring your Laptop
In my defense, I went directly to Wadi Rum after a conference for work, which is why I had my laptop with me in the first place. I couldn’t really leave it behind so I shoved it in my bag…aaaand then I dropped it. Epic travel fail. Camels are really tall. Laptops definitely do not belong on top of camels. Lesson learned.

By Nikki Hodgson