Do you remember when Ben Fogle and James Cracknel took a very long camel ride through the Arabian desert? Following in the footsteps h f Wilfred Thesiger, they conquered a part of the Arabian desert known as the ‘Empty Quarter’ which spans parts of Saudia Arabia, Oman, the UAE and Yemen and is the largest contiguous desert in the world.
It was no mean feat – they rode for days with little food and water and from the comfort of my sofa on a cold February night, it was another one of those ‘wow’ moments you get that reminds you there’s a huge world out there. And in it, there are some incredible natural phenomenons waiting to be seen, many of which come with some pretty extreme conditions.
Ok, so my recent camel ride in the Qatari desert was more of a taster of what getting on a camel was like. In fact, it was probably up there in the shortest camel ride ever taken. But we were here for the big event of the day – our daredevil dune bashing tour – and this was merely a passing opportunity I came across while we stopped for sweet tea at the desert camp ahead of our journey.
I hadn’t yet travelled to a destination where camel riding was on the agenda. So challenging my inner Ben Fogle I thought why not? Without sounding crude, it was time to tick it off the bucket list, ahem, I mean trial it out, in the event I fancy an epic journey across the Arabian desert any time soon.
Have a nosey (or laugh) at my vert first camel ride in the pictures below. It was nice to come face-to-face with these creatures, which despite the bad press they might get, are pretty fascinating. After all, they have the ability to withstand some of the highest temperatures on earth.
When you get on at ground level, make sure you hold on VERY tightly. The same goes for when they get down. In fact, any sudden movement, including a sneeze – or if they decide they don’t like you, a shake – and you can be off the side before you know it.
The good thing about taking a camel ride in Qatar is the camels are covered in nice furry rugs and a thick padded duvet. So if you’re keen to take a longer trip, you can rest assured you won’t be so saddle sore at the end of it. I would just advise a few things: wear trousers or shorts and sturdier shoes than flip flops and take sunglasses and a hat. Even if it’s not that hot, it’s good to have protection from the wind which can carry the sand (it gets everywhere).
In Qatar, camels are also used for racing at the Al Shahaniya Sports Club – Al Shahaniya is around 20km from Doha and while I didn’t get to see it, it’s supposed to be quite a spectacle.
After a pleasant little stroll, we got back to the main business of the day – our dune bashing tour and to see the Inland Sea and more sights of this incredible desert.