Old School Transportation in the Negev: Camel Riding

Old School Transportation in the Negev: Camel Riding

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After a rough morning (due to a night out on Ben Yehuda in Jerusalem), the bus pulled into a little development in the middle of the desert.  Smack dab in the middle.  Every direction was filled with vast emptiness, all we could see was sand, rocks, hills, and a random shrub here and there.  It was utterly breathtaking.  And probably the freshest air I have ever breathed.  It was so refreshing to be out of the city.

And enjoying these splendid views all at the same time.

The moment we stepped off the bus I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere.  It’s such a hard feeling to describe.  Feeling totally out of place (as New York is probably the furthest thing from a desert), we prepared ourselves for what would most likely be one of the highlights on our trip- camel trekking throughout the desert.

Every one started partnering up, and since none of us had ever ridden a camel before, there was no right choice.  Since N. and I were lucky enough to get accepted into birthright together, it was obvious we would ride that stinky thing as a team.

No words can describe my initial thoughts of the camels.  They were HUGE. Absolutely huge.  Bigger and taller than I had imagined.  And to be honest, pretty ugly and really smelly (which was even more pungent up close I quickly discovered).  “How was I ever going to get on top of that thing?” was my first question.

The Bedouins led us to the group of camels, and without wasting any time, we were sitting on the back of these large, stinky animals.  As soon as N. and I were on, the Bedouin men hit the camel with a wooden(?) stick to urge them to stand up.  And the way they stand up: backwards.  The camels stand up with their back legs first, basically shooting the person in the back right up.  They then pick their front legs up to finally balance things out.  That was an experience in itself… thankfully I was in the front!

Being atop the camels was an experience like no other.  Between balancing and dearly holding on for life, even I, the girl known by all her family and friends to take pictures of every. single. moment. was having trouble handing the camera.  Thankfully others (on the ground) were able to get decent photos of us.

Has anyone realized just how big a camels tongue is?  And with a big tongue, comes a lot of slobber!

Even though the Bedouins were walking alongside us, occasionally grabbing rope that worked like a leash, I never felt truly secure.  One bump in the road, and I was wishing for a seatbelt.  I thought any moment would be my last on that bizarrely tremendous animal.

All in all, riding those two-humped camels in the sweltering desert heat was surely pretty thrilling.  After our ride of about 10-15 minutes (total guess from the girl with no watch), the donkey riders and camel huggers switched animals.

I’m just proud I didn’t fall off… of the camel.  You’ll see what I mean in my next post… Stay Tuned!
Has anyone ever ridden one of these smelly animals before?!
Or something you hope to do one day?

***Thank you to some of my fellow Birthright-ers for their great camera-handling abilities!  Not all images are my own. If you would like to use a photo, please contact me first.

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  • Jessica says:

    What a cool experience! I've also heard that camels are pretty smelly and sometimes nasty, but somehow that doesn't stop me from wanting to ride one sometime.

    • Jessica says:

      Once your on top of the camel, you kind of forget about the smell. Balancing and trying to take in the fact that you're in the middle of the desert kind of overrides the smell. Go ride one! 🙂

  • Franca says:

    I have never been to the desert before and neither on a camel too, it does intrigues me to try though. It sounds like fun overall, despite the smelly bit I guess 🙂

  • This is awesome! I loved virtually riding with you through the desert and on top of the camel. It does look pretty unstable.I've only seen camels at zoos but definitely would love to ride one and hold on for dear life 🙂

  • Manda says:

    This looks awesome! I've ridden on a camel before, but it was in a zoo. So, very different and not nearly as awesome as camel riding in the desert!

    • Jessica says:

      I feel like I remember riding some large animal when I was much much younger, and I'm thinking it was a camel haha. Probably at a zoo. And yes, very different experiences!

  • Debbie says:

    Have yet to ride a camel but definitely want to. Great photos. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Arianwen says:

    Camels are such strange creatures. It always seems like a great idea to ride one, but it's actually pretty damn uncomfortable.

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