Into The Sahara: My Camel Hates Me

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!



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.


60 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • January 27 2012

    The desert is just magical & I loved every moment of it even the camels!

  • January 27 2012

    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™‚
    Alison recently posted..A Weekend in Belgium’s Eastern Cantons – Part 2 – Hombourg and Aubel

  • January 27 2012

    Maybe he didn’t like the name Ranger, and wanted something like Farty?
    Teri Hartman recently posted..Sometimes, I Think I Should Have Been a Mormon Housewife

    • January 28 2012

      I could see how one might be disappointed at not being called Farty. But it just wasn’t as accurate for him. πŸ™‚

  • January 27 2012

    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..
    Phil recently posted..Interview with Juliet Bawuah on Ghana Football and the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations

    • January 28 2012

      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!

  • Alouise
    January 27 2012

    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.

    • January 28 2012

      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!

  • I want to ride a camel! I loved this post. It definitely shows the beauty of the Sahara. This post also reminded me that boys will be boys no matter what their age is πŸ™‚
    Debbie – European Travelista recently posted..Cahors ~ A French Gem

    • January 28 2012

      Even though Ranger hated me, it was the experience of a lifetime. They are such cool creatures, and the Sahara was so amazing!!

  • 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˜€ )

    • January 28 2012

      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™‚

  • Mom
    January 27 2012

    OMG…..I am in total AWE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • January 27 2012

    Would love to do this trip – and even more so after I’ve seen your photos.

    • January 28 2012

      It is an amazing experience – a lifetime highlight – for sure!

  • January 28 2012

    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.
    Amanda recently posted..There’s More to Ottawa in Winter Than Just Frigid Weather

    • January 28 2012

      Thanks Amanda! Pete was snapping furiously, every time the sun went down a little further, the sky got more beautiful. It was so surreal.

  • jan
    January 28 2012

    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.

    • January 28 2012

      It was definitely a big tick off the bucket list!! And yes, now I know to ask for the camel with no prejudices as well. πŸ™‚

  • January 28 2012

    So, I’m definitely jealous. The Sahara intrigues me — I’d even do the camels.
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday: My Ship Has Come In

    • January 28 2012

      The camels are a must! Even though Ranger hated me, I had a pretty smooth ride, and they are amazing animals.

  • January 28 2012

    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.
    Cherina recently posted..The Road Less Travelled

    • January 28 2012

      I thought so too Cherina, but I guess camels don’t know that rule. πŸ™‚

  • January 28 2012

    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.
    Steve recently posted..Downtime at the Movies

  • Deidre Wald
    January 28 2012

    I love the picture of Pete and his camel! Great photo!

  • January 28 2012

    I’m with Abby on her comment of the photos. Great shots and the prose had me gasping and laughing. Thnx.
    Maria recently posted..When a Stranger Calls

    • January 29 2012

      Thanks so much Maria! Camels are hilarious. πŸ™‚

  • Cam
    January 28 2012

    Looks like so much fun! We rode camels in Egypt and Jordan, but there’s something about riding a camel in the Sahara….!!
    Cam recently posted..Drinking Beer Around the World – Part Eleven

    • January 29 2012

      That was not the last time we will be on a camel, I am sure. Hope the next one likes me. πŸ™‚

  • Abby
    January 28 2012

    Wow those desert photos are beyond. I love the shadows.

  • January 28 2012

    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.

    • January 29 2012

      I know, right? I might have found the only person/thing that hates Canadians. πŸ™‚

      The post on “silence” is coming…. πŸ™‚

  • Dayna
    January 28 2012

    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.

    • January 29 2012

      Thanks Dayna! That is my favorite photo too, even if Ranger did hate me. πŸ™‚

  • January 29 2012

    hahaha! I did the camel riding in January as well and it was SO COLD in the desert, I honestly thought I was going to freeze to death
    Jade – recently posted..How To Survive A Winnipeg Winter

    • January 29 2012

      We have a bit of tolerance to cold, having grown up in northern Canada. It was chilly, but we managed! πŸ™‚

  • January 30 2012

    Have you read Kipling’s Just So story about how the camel got his hump? The β€œMmmrrrraaaaaa…!” immediately reminded me of that πŸ™‚ Seriously, beautiful desert pictures, have a great time guys.
    Natasha @ Wandering Kiwi recently posted..New York City: The 9th Avenue Food Festival

    • January 31 2012

      No, I haven’t read that! But now, apparently, I must! πŸ™‚

  • January 30 2012

    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.

    • January 31 2012

      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™‚

  • January 31 2012

    Awesome photos! We love camels but it’s so awkward to try to get on them. We’ll be sure to try to find one with less… gas. πŸ™‚

  • January 31 2012

    Bahahaha this story is hilarious. Ranger looks pretty badass, just the same.

  • Katrina
    January 31 2012

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

    • February 1 2012

      We managed to work it out. We shared a bottle of wine and he admitted he was mad because my bag was too heavy. πŸ™‚

  • Emily in Chile
    February 2 2012

    Aww, Farty looks so happy in that picture! What a fun adventure.

    • February 2 2012

      Haha, Farty was a happy camel. It was a most excellent adventure!

  • February 2 2012

    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.

  • Even though I really want to have a similar experience riding on a camel in the desert, I know that the camel and I will not get along.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Planking: An Aussie Photo Tradition

  • Christine B.Osborne
    February 6 2012

    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.

  • Sharon
    February 9 2012

    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!

  • February 13 2012

    Sorry about your relationship with Ranger but thank you for your story about the Saharan experience and I hope I get to ride a camel soon!
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..First Timers Guide to Vegas

    • Pete
      February 14 2012

      Thanks Alexa!!! I hope it happens for you too πŸ™‚

  • February 15 2012

    Aw, How can he not love Canadian Women: I bet Mohammed says that to all the girls.

    • February 16 2012

      I concur. What’s not to love??

  • Amazing photos of the Sahara. We hope to see it one day!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..GO GREEN TIP #91: Attracting More Birds To Your Spring Garden

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