Farty the Camel

Into The Sahara: My Camel Hates Me

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photo by Pete Heck

As we checked out of our hotel in the morning, the man at reception commented on our intention to enter the Sahara with camels that same day.

“Mmmrrrraaaaaa…!” he bellowed, mimicking the legendary beasts of the desert, before bursting into laughter. When we tried to explain our excitement and the fact that we had never seen camels before, he pointed to his wide eyes and with honest incredulity said: “No see camels?” We nodded.

“Mmmrrrraaaaaa…!” he cried out again, louder and with all-consuming laughter.

Ahem. So maybe it is hilarious to a local that it is some dumb tourist’s dream to ride on a large, smelly (and apparently, loud and obnoxious) creature, to spend the night in tents in the freezing desert, and absorb fine sand into every pore. But we were proudly those dumb tourists, and we didn’t really care.

For the rest of the morning, we sped through the black sands of the leading desert, the paved road to the Sahara stretched out smoothly for many straight miles. The large copper dunes crept closer, the color becoming impossibly more intense with each mile. Our excitement rose with each passing minute.

the sahara

Upon arrival into the nearly empty town of Merzouga, a gateway to the desert, we were introduced to three Mohammeds.

Mohammed (“The Original“) was to be our chaperone and guide, leading us into the bright orange dunes of the vast Sahara desert.

The remaining Mohammeds, affectionately nicknamed “Number Two” and “Number Ten” were our camels who would take us there.

Camel shadows

Number Two and Number Ten obediently followed the lead of The Original, trudging through deep mounds of sand, up and over hills. Pete and I both rode with large grins plastered on our faces, fawning over the camel’s strength, height, and the unexpected smooth ride. So enamored were we that we wanted to give our new friends better names – I chose “Ranger” for mine, after a beloved horse of my best friend back home, and Pete’s was perhaps a little less loving, but was definitely accurate. He was riding “Farty“.

Pete and Farty

After almost an hour of riding, at a point where we could see nothing more around us but the orange sand, we stopped for a break and to stretch our legs. We dismounted our camels and took the time to get a closer look, snap pictures, and give ’em some love.

Pete scratched the top of Farty’s head, and Farty lapped it up. He leaned into Pete’s hand, encouraging deeper pets, and Pete moved onto scartch his neck while Farty closed his eyes and enjoyed every second of it. I turned to Ranger, hoping to replicate this intimate experience with this majestic animal, but I was immediately turned down.

“Mmmrrrraaaaaa…!” Ranger cried out, baring his teeth and causing my heart to race as I jumped back.

The Original burst into laughter. “He doesn’t like Canadian women,” Mohammed declared.

I was so hurt.

Be that way then, Ranger.

Ranger the camel

Ranger and I managed to smother our newfound dislike for each other and make the rest of the trek with indifference and without incident. Luckily for him, I didn’t care much, as I was smitten with another new love, the bewitching Sahara desert landscape.

Yeah, I’m fickle like that.

Gorgeous Sahara

Sahara shadows

Sahara camp

Our camp in the desert!

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Our visit to the Sahara Desert was a part of our wonderful tour with Merzouga Journeys. For a full review and the itinerary for our entire tour, please click here.

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65 Comments

  1. Hilarious! That would so happen to me. Andrew would totally get the sweet camel and I’d be stuck with cranky camel-from-hell. Love the photos and hopefully it was worth enduring the Canuck-hating camel πŸ™‚

    1. The next day on our trek out of the desert, our guide traded camels with another couple that had come in. You know, to stop the Canadian-hating. πŸ™‚

  2. Well, you guys already know how I feel about camels, so I won’t overload your server with a long-winded comment. Glad you got to spend some time with these extraordinary animals. And Dalene, all I can say is that camels are very perceptive and you may want to review your personal history with camelids. Ever look at a vicuna or a llama funny? Ever condescend to an alpaca? The camel will know..

    1. That makes so much sense, although Ranger’s anger was misplaced. Pete was taunting a llama in Peru (and hilariously got spit on by the llama – I’m talking a whole mouthful of grass and saliva and gross stuff right in Pete’s face), and apparently I got punished for it by Ranger. I just wanted to pet him!

  3. I’ve heard camels can be rather stubborn. Glad you were able to put Ranger’s drama out of your mind and enjoy the landscape. From the photos it looks amazing.

    1. Despite Ranger’s hatred of me, that was definitely a lifetime highlight. The landscape was so incredible – I had no idea that the sand would really be that bright in color!

  4. I just love the desert…living in Egypt, its 9 hours by car to be in Siwa, and then the desert is all mine. With some connections and friendships I camp out there through my stay…its always amazing.

    Though I usually have a friend with me who owns a land cruiser…so never really did the camel thing (did ride the camel when I was younger though πŸ˜€ always get scared when he’s standing up and sitting down…feels like i’ll fall off πŸ˜€ )

    1. Oh yeah! When the camels sit down it feels like you’re going to go flying overhead, and I guess a person would if they weren’t carefully holding on! I would love to do a longer camping trip, like some sort of epic journey across. πŸ™‚

  5. I suppose that I could get over my camel hating me with views like that, too! That photo of the desert with the silhouettes of your camels is AMAZING.

  6. For me, a camel ride would be a big tick off the bucket list. I must remember to ask for one that likes Australian Women. Wonderful photos.

  7. How can anyone (or anything) hate a Canadian – that’s my question!? Physically impossible πŸ˜‰ Love the desert pics guys! Looks like a great journey…despite the camel angst.

  8. It’s our fault. Lori pissed off the camel at the local petting zoo on a preschool field trip once. Word of the incident must have gotten back to the Sahara, and now all Canadian women are blacklisted. Sorry about that.

  9. Your camel doesn’t like Canadians? How is that even possible? Everyone likes Canadians! Love this story … and the photos. So beautiful. I would have loved to have just stood there in silence and listen to the stillness.

  10. This post was too funny.. I love the names! Your photography is getting absolutely incredible as well, I loved all the shots, but especially the one of the camel resting… wow. Incredible post guys.

  11. Ahh, this is totally something we want to do! Ride a camel in the Sahara, that is — I could pass on riding a farty camel in the Sahara. πŸ˜› And call me crazy, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a camel spit, even if it was aimed in my direction.

    1. I was pretty glad that I was in front of Pete and Farty, so I didn’t catch the downwind draft! Unfortunately we didn’t get to see a camel spit, but ask Pete about the time with the llama in Peru, and he’s had all the camelid spit he can handle in this lifetime I think! πŸ™‚

  12. I hope you and Ranger resolved your differences. I love camels so much. Would go back for more trekking in a heartbeat!

  13. Ha ha ha! Of course they love Canadian women, they have to! We’re just that adorable. πŸ˜‰

    Sounds like a really fun experience and as always your photos are beautiful.

  14. If well treated, a camel will be as loving as a dog, but unfortunately many are abused by their owners.

    I heard of a camel in Iran which was regularly beaten by its owner who finally sold it and moved to another village. The camel was passing one day, and sighted the man, and running across it attacked and scalped him.

    Like the elephant said the guide in Isfahan ( whose name by the way was Muhammed) a camel never forgets.

  15. You gotta come and ride the real Ranger….he’s not a Canadian-woman-hater! And he’ll love you even more if you come with oats or carrots in hand!

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