While it may seem camel-riding is an experience only to be had in the desert, there are actually quite a few spots across the globe where camel rides can elevate your adventure. Instead of thinking of it as an activity secondary to your destination, then, make camel-riding the centerpiece of your next journey. Here are five to inspire you:
1: Mount of Olives, Israel
Steeped in history and rich with views of Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives is worthy of a visit however you get there – but a camel ride makes it extraordinary. Not only is the mountain a well-known Christian icon, but it has served as the muse for Mark Twain (who took a camel ride on the mount), boasts an ancient necropolis, and offers several exceptional vantage points for viewing old and new Jerusalem in one sweeping vista. Once on the mount, be sure to visit the Russian Church of the Ascension, the Tomb of the Prophets, and, closer to the base, the Church of all Nations. While you can book a bus or private tour up the mount, you can also “rent” a camel from a local; the cost is about 60 shekels, or $17. Pro tips: Try negotiating a lower price before you hand over cash. Also, if you want a vetted guide, we recommend Moti Barness Private Guide.
2: Marrakech, Morocco
You might not think camel rides can be a luxury experience, but they sure can. At Agafay Desert Luxury Camp in Marrakech, spend your morning soaking in the onsite swimming pool or simply lounging in your tent, then mount a camel for a desert tour extraordinaire. A camel tour of the Agafay Desert is 35 Euros (about $40), but you can pair it with a traditional Moroccan lunch or dinner (think rich tagines and sugary cakes) for an additional 40 Euros. (Note: You need to reserve a tent in order to have access to camel rides; these run around 150 Euros ($165) per night for up to three people.)
3: Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
An up-close-and-personal experience of the ancient Pyramids of Giza is its own bucket list item, but it seems somehow appropriate to cap that experience with a camel ride. Fortunately, there are plenty of options, stretching from sunrise treks on dromedaries (one-hump camels) to daytime tours that go from the pyramids to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Some tours even include lunch (although be ready to shell out $40 or more for that). Countless tour companies offer the experience, but a private tour is always the best option; check Viator for the latest deals and availability. Prices start at around $35/tour.
4: Dubai, UAE
We already profiled the best activities and eats in Dubai, but there’s one standout experience adventurers must try: camel riding (and sand skiing) in the desert. You can do this as part of larger excursions out on the dunes, but if your focus is camel riding, then we recommend heading to Jebel Haftit Desert Park. It’s not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s a brilliant spot for lumbering around on a camel, which gives you a hint of Bedouin life. You can also get a view of the ancient, walled city of Al Ain and its lush gardens. Learn more about available tours and rides here.
5: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Camels in Mexico? What? That’s right. Sure, you can lounge on the beach with a mojito, but why not go on a camel ride/safari in Cabo San Lucas and make your friends extra jealous? During your trek, you’ll get breathtaking views of the Cabo desert, the Pacific Ocean, and key sites on the Baja peninsula. Plus, tours often include lunches, nature walks – even tequila tastings. (Imbibe slowly and carefully; you don’t want to fall off your camel.) Get all the details via our chosen camel tour company, Cabo Adventures.
Pro tips for camel riding
Given their slow gait, camels might seem easy to ride, but there’s actually some skill involved. To ensure you enjoy your first camel trek, follow these simple guidelines:
- Wear long pants and socks to protect your skin.
- Wear covered shoes (not flip-flops).
- Always approach your camel from the side, not from the front or rear; this ensures you don’t startle it or inadvertently convey aggression.
- You will mount your camel while it’s laying on the ground. As it stands, lean backwards to keep your balance.
- Stretch your inner leg muscles (adductors) before riding; you’ll be straddling your camel for a while, so staying limber is important.
- As your camel ambles, relax and sway with it – don’t try to fight it or you’ll exhaust yourself and possibly lose balance.
- Prepare for initial discomfort as you adjust to your camel and the camel’s movements. Don’t worry, this is normal.
- Follow your guide’s directions and don’t go rogue. We all know what happens when you don’t follow directions (i.e. you fall off).