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EXPERIENCES | HOW TO RIDE A CAMEL

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With and on camels roaming through the desert, if this is on your bucket list it will be something that you absolutely want to tick off. I’ll tell you why.

In Jordan people keep their camel as a pet. Did you know there are roughly three types of camels? Racing camels, breeding camels and camels for the tourists.

A racing camel is trained, should never eat on the go because the trainer, usually the Bedouin owner of the camels, gives him or her balanced food, resulting in the best energy to win a race.

The breeding camel are the females who are pregnant, they have a gestation period of about one year. They search for their own food in the desert and are fed. After they give birth to a baby camel, you should try drinking the medicinal and healthy camel milk. Delicious!

The camel for the tourists does not get to eat much … Piteous? No! The intention is for the camel to think of food along the way and to nibble a bite here and there. To ensure that they do not go on the run with their inexperienced rider. Eventually, they get more than enough to eat each day and they are fed when needed. Believe me, it works very well this way.

Dromedary or camel? There is a distinction in Europe. One hump is a dromedary, two humps a camel. In the Arabian peninsula, there are only one-humped camels. And the Arabic language only knows the word Jamal, this is translated to the camel.

Description of a journey through the desert with camels

She did not dare to ride a horse anymore because of knee and back complaints: this time I want to ride a camel, she thought.

Four days of rocking on the back of a camel through the desert and occasional walking, you can have a very relaxing experience. Try it whenever you get the opportunity.

If you move directly from your civilized and organized home to the desert, it might take some time to get used to it: the silence, the vastness, no paths,  huge rocks, which pop up like hills everywhere and nowhere… You can hardly orient yourself without buildings. The noise of city life will still be in your head taking at the start and might take a while to get rid of before you can surrender to the rhythm of the desert.

The first day consists of getting used to a completely new environment: to your camel, to the Bedouin guides and to other guests.

This is how your ride a camel

On the camel, it is quite difficult to find a good seat. You sit on a square wooden saddle, covered with blankets, which is pushed over the hump of the camel, attached underneath the belly. Our guests had brought saddle pads of sheepskin on my advice, which is used in horse riding to sit softly. It is nice to alternate sitting on the camel with walking yourself.

Benefits of slowly trekking through the desert on a camel

You’ll get time to incorporate many more details: pebbles, plants, trees, the natural drawings of colours on the rocks, rock inscriptions, sand dunes, the many colours and structures of the sand and the mountains, the ever-changing surface, traces of desert life. And then you see the Bedouin tent in the distance. Then suddenly “wild” camels are running through the desert. In contrast to a quick trip in a jeep, with which you can see the big lines of the desert but miss all those special details.

Bedouins are excellent cooks

Mansour is with us, a Bedouin who takes care of his camels and conjures up the most delicious meals from almost scratch on the “table”. Cooking is mostly done on the wood fire, which is collected on the way and transported in the jeep. In case of shortage of dead wood in certain places, there is also a gas burner, in order to be able to cook anyway. The commonly used blackened teapot is the first to put on the fire to make the Bedouin tea. Meanwhile, preparations are being made for the meal. Many guests find it soothing to keep the wood fire burning, to have something to do. Other visitors love to go out again, to gather wood and find more special details of the desert.

It is all possible.

Bedouin life

Your daily worries draw further into the background until you suddenly come face to face with yourself. You connect with yourself and might wonder what your meaning is on the earth. Or you might find out that your life now, is not the one you want to live anymore or can bring you any further. You even may finally find the peace that you longed for, no more whining at your head, just complete me-time to recharge your batteries because your battery was almost running empty.

Riding a camel is so different than anything you’ve done before. It is not comparable to anything else, the only thing you can do is try for yourself. You will eventually find a correct seat on the saddle and also the muscle pain, the unusual setting and the tension of all the new will pull away and you can fully enjoy. No more jammers, there is no internet either, in the desert you finally come to rest, there are hardly any incentives you need to respond to or have to think about.

Desert life

In the desert, you live like a Bedouin. For everyone, there’s a thin mattress where you sit, eat and sleep on. A pillow and enough blankets according to the season. Or better: take your own sleeping bag. Life takes place on the ground. After dinner, there is time to sing and time for storytelling, before starting to go to sleep under the stars and the moon. There are tents but guests usually choose to sleep under the millions of stars.

A desert trip for whom?

Anyone who can hold on him/ her self can ride a camel. You do not have to pay attention to anything. You can completely surrender to rocking on the ship of the desert. And even dream away to endless distances, a kind of meditation. Moreover, it is very good for your lower back, which becomes more flexible and firmer from riding. Those who make a camel trip love animals, walking, nature, an uncommon adventure. Some want to break a routine, others want to experience the desert and take the time to relax.

It can also be an extraordinary wish or be on the bucket list.

Expedition: discovering of the desert on a camel

Enough reasons to set up an expedition, to go camel riding in the desert of Wadi Rum, known as the valley of the Moon, as the planet Mars. In the footsteps of the British officer Lawrence of Araba who, during the Arab Revolution (100 years ago) helped the Bedouin liberate themselves from the Ottomans to eventually name the new country “the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”, after the lineage of the Royal House, of the Prophet Muhammad. In the past, Wadi Rum was on the route of trade caravans and pilgrims going to Mekka. Wadi Rum has a long history of habitation, from prehistoric times to the Romans and the Nabataeans who built Petra. Nowadays Wadi Rum is the place of the Bedouin. Also known as a location for several films such as recently “The Martian” with Matt Damon, would he have also ridden on a camel?

Is Jordan safe?

Jordan is a safe and peaceful place between the turmoil of the Middle East. More travellers are visiting Jordan, figures are raising since 2017. Jordan is an unexpected, enchantingly beautiful country, the hospitality of the Bedouin is unprecedented. Jordan is worth visiting, so say the people who return here again and again to lead a different life.

How do I book this?

Want to know more about Jordan or camel riding? You can connect with me here.

Brenda is a travel reporter from Jordan. She knows all about living in Jordan, such as surviving in the desert. With love, she shares her stories in TRVL MGZN. Brenda comes from the Netherlands, but lives and works as a travel agent in Jordan.

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