River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Runnin' on

June 2001

Hints and tips for camel riding

With the following article I hope I can give you some very useful hints on Camel Riding. Knowing what I now have learnt from a holiday experience would have made me better prepared for a less hair raising hour on the back of a camel.

The trip was to take place on the slopes of an inactive volcano, very black loose lava wasn't at all nice to walk across so a tumble off the camel would have been quite nasty.

The animals were all lined up, joined head to tail by chains and led by a local man walking at the side of the camel at the head of the line. Each animal had a pair of seats across its back, made from metal tubing with a plastic covered thin foam cushion, very basic! The line of camels was urged to kneel, they unwillingly obliged with grunts and groans.

Once we were seated our safety straps were tied across our laps, I viewed the frayed rubber with some misgivings and held on tightly as the camels were told to stand. My knuckles went white as I gripped the arms of the seat and the camels stood up with a seesawing motion, being jerked backwards and forwards, I held my breath.

Well, the camel and I made it and the ground looked a long way off, I tried to get a better grip on the plank swinging under my seat, this was meant to be a foot rest but it fell far short of any British standards. I gave up and relied on holding on to the seat for the ride.

All the camels grunted as our journey commenced, the view from such a tall animal was excellent and I started to take notice of the other camels, the one in front of ours was the lead animal and watching its feet spread out as they took the weight of the animal and the riders was interesting. Never slipping, the large animal carefully walked across very loose lava, even managing slopes with a swinging grace.

Our camel nudged closer to it's leader and almost drew level with one of the passengers, at the same time we noticed that the camel following us was drawing level with us. We had been told not to wear any perfumed toiletries as the animals are attracted to them!

All the male riders were being admired by their camel followers much to the amusement of their partners who were being ignored. I reckon that the British men were just what the camels fancied.

An enterprising local had set himself up on our route and he photographed each camel and its riders, by the time we had finished the ride and had settled ourselves on the tour bus our photos had been printed and mounted in a folder. I was relieved to see that I had managed a smile at least once on my camel!

Now when I look at the picture I have to laugh, there might be a smile on my face but my knuckles are showing white as I clutch the arm of my camel seat!

Janet Tilburn

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