Camel trekking is an outdoor activity where you get to ride camels in the desert, walk over sand dunes, and enjoy amazing views. My package lasted 3 hours from pick up to drop off. I booked online and coordinated via WhatsApp. The day of the activity a driver picked me up at my hotel, and drove me to the company’s desert site, one hour outside the city of Dubai. There I met my guide and the camel I would ride. I was on the camel for about 45 mins out in the desert. I paid on location after my ride and returned to my hotel with the same driver that picked me up.
Camel trekking was one of my favorite experiences in Dubai. I encourage anyone who has the chance to make time, explore the desert, and meet some camels. It was a fun and comfortable activity and you don’t have to be an adventure traveler to enjoy it.
How to mount a camel?
Getting on and off a camel is easier than mounting a horse. Camels bend their knees and lay on the floor, which puts their back at a comfortable height for easy mounting. After you have taken a seat, firmly hold on to the handles in front of you, because the camel will first stand up on its hind legs with its front knees still on the floor and then straighten its front legs. If you don’t mentally prepare for it, you will feel as though you will fall forward. Don’t worry though, it’s just an unusual sensation, not actual danger.
How was the ride?
The blogs I had read before I embarked on the camel trek had mentioned that the camel’s particular movement could sometimes be uncomfortable of even cause back pain … so I braced myself for the worst and expected a somewhat painful experience. However, even toward the end of the ride, I never felt any pain and my camel was very comfortable. When my partner and I switched camels to take photos from different perspectives, I noticed a starkly different comfort level on his camel. Riding my initial camel felt like sitting on a cloud, while his felt a lot more rigid. This was most likely because my initial camel was a younger quite large and padded male, while the second camel was an older, smaller, and bonier female.
How were the camels?
Contrary to what many people might think, the camels didn’t smell or spit. We had two camels in our entourage -- one for each of us, a male and a female. The male camel had his mouth covered with a blue fabric mouth guard. We were told that this was because the male was a bit younger and could sometimes bite, while older female was much more relaxed. That being said, neither of the camels seemed to be in any kind of distress, or anguish. When we dismounted the camels for some photos, the male camel vacillated between snuggles and some more forceful gestures towards me. However, it seemed rather playful than aggressive and it showed nothing but kindness and affection for my partner. I moved on to taking pictures with the female who was very relaxed and docile.
How was the weather?
The weather was wonderful. Most of the trekking companies offer excursions early or late in the day to avoid the midday heat in the desert. During our morning trek, we had clear blue skies and enough wind for a refreshing ride. I wore a sleeveless t-shirt and an unbuttoned long-sleeve jean shirt over it. For picture purposes, I took the second layer off at times. Since I had put on sunscreen, don’t burn easily and the ride was less than an hour, it did not feel as though the long-sleeve shirt was necessary.
WHAT TO WEAR?
When researching the camel trek, all of the websites I found were very vague and only recommended “wearing comfortable clothes.” Let me bring some more light to what this actually means:
You can wear anything you would wear to go horseback riding. Your legs will be on a padded saddle made of fabric -- be mindful that the camel’s movement will cause some friction on your thighs. Wear something that covers your entire legs to avoid any undesired friction with the saddle. Choose a fabric that gives and stretches to adjust to the movement. If in doubt, jeans work very well.
For your top, think about what the locals wear. They wear layers, mainly long sleeves to protect themselves from the sun, sand and wind. If you are taking a relatively short ride (less than an hour), you could get away with almost anything. Just don’t forget the sunscreen! I was lathered up with sunscreen and mosquito/bug repellant. I would recommend this combo for any outdoor activity. Even though I didn’t see a single mosquito (just some flies hanging around the camels), those repellants also usually do a decent job at fighting off other bug bites.
If your priority is taking pictures and you would like to feel the sand for a bit when you are not on the camel, sandals should work fine for you (just make sure they can strap firmly on your feet, so you don’t lose them while riding). However, if practicality is your priority, I would advise you to wear closed sneakers. You do walk on the sand to take some photos and before/after mounting/dismounting, so you will accumulate some sand in your shoes, but the amount was minimal. Closed sneakers do help you prevent injuries when mounting the camel and avoid skin abrasion from the sand under sandal straps. Also, if you choose to wear sandals, don’t forget to use sunscreen on your feet! There is no shade in the desert, remember that.
*Pack a bottle of water and maybe a small snack to make sure you stay hydrated and your blood sugar doesn’t drop while you are riding. That’s of lesser concern if your ride is less than an hour, but still something to keep in mind.