Camel Ride in Kenya

Camel, Laikipia Plains, Kenya

Camel, Laikipia Plains, Kenya

A caravan of camels were coming to the camp to take our safari group further out to the plains.  We were in the Laikipia Plains in Kenya.  In the Maasai language this translates to “vast plains” and it is just that.


We were all very excited about this adventure…until the camels arrived.   A dozen very angry, noisy camels were creating utter chaos in our quiet little camp.  Growls were a predominant sound, but not deep like a wolf, higher, like a  human.  In addition there was screaming, groaning, and sobbing.  (For a pretty good rendition of camel sounds, click here, and then click on “Sounds.”)


We all stood there with bewildered faces.  There were several attendants for the camels, and they were running about, talking in Swahili, preparing the saddles and ropes; unconcerned with the racket.  I noticed one of the camels spitting out green slime, then several more did too, shooting bright green cud in every direction.


Jet on her camel

Jet on her camel

Our guides were trying to get our attention because they had something important to tell us before we mounted our camels.  But we were all so horrified by the spitting, hollering camels, that concentration was impossible.


These camels were dromedary, that is, one-humped.  How does a person sit on the back of an animal that has a giant hump in the middle of its back?  By the use of a saddle rig.  It’s not a saddle with rich, brown leather like for horseback riding, this was a combination of a blanket and a boxy rig, designed for human rear ends to rest over the hump.  We were told to hold on tightly to the front and back of the saddle.


Eventually the camels settled down and it was time to mount.   The camel rests his entire body naturally on the earth, folds his legs underneath himself.  You mount while they are laying down, and as soon as they feel your body on their back, they stand up.  But the problem is they stand up only two legs at a time.  So when the two front legs rise, you are pitched violently backward, and when the two back legs rise, you are pitched violently forward.


A roller coaster would have been easier, at least you’re secured.  But I did fine.


Our camel caravan

Our camel caravan

After my heart got back to a normal fibrillating rhythm, I noticed desert hares darting around us, and the beauty of this scene began to unfold.  I was about 10 feet up off the ground and could see very far.  What a thrill to see a herd of elephants in the distance, lumbering toward a patch of acacia trees.


Soon we were in a rocky area and my camel lost his footing.  His ungulate hooves slipped on the rocks.  Helplessly, I thought we were going to go down, but he caught his balance.


They’re not a fast animal, they’re slow and stubborn.  We’d been under the hot African sun a little over an hour when we arrived at our final destination, the water.  Here we would disembark the camels, and the safari vehicles would take us to our next destination.


I was nervous about the upcoming dismount and my hands were already very sweaty from the heat, so I wiped them on my pants and prepared for the precarious finale.  The ride was not at all what I had dreamt it would be, it was far more unsettling and frightful; but it was more beautiful and humbling than I had expected, so all in all it was a success.


The dismount went fine.  I was relieved to have my boots back on the ground.  If my legs hadn’t been so wobbly I would have kicked up my heels in triumph.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander





31 thoughts on “Camel Ride in Kenya

  1. What a nice pleasant ride in the park on such a beautiful day– sounds like a great experience now that it is over and that you are safe and sound on the ground. Did you think eio eio eiiioo as you journeyed across the sands?

    • My exact words! I’m glad I did it, so unique and different, but retrospect helps sometimes. Thanks so much for your comment, Bill; and many happy wishes to you on your birthday. 😀

  2. ….”In addition there was screaming, groaning, and sobbing.” Was that coming from the camel riders? Camel riding is an art to be mastered otherwise is a disaster. Looks so cool dough. Nice post Jet! Excuse my boring humor. 🙂

  3. I read your post with admiration — oh, to be in Kenya, and on the back of a camel! What a wonderful experience!

  4. Violently backward and forward, wow! Not as romantic as I thought it’d be 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful story, Jet!

    • Definitely not as romantic as I thought either. LOL. But you know how those things go in travel, and in life–in the end we have a result and we’re either happy or not happy. I always choose happy. I so appreciate your continued comments and support, Amy. 🙂

  5. Oh, Jet, I had to laugh! I really enjoyed reading about your experience. You are a lot braver then I, for I do not think I would get on a camel. Great post, great descriptions, and I just Love your honesty. And yes, I Love your sense of humur. 🙂 Love, Amy

  6. Oh my! I think I will feel the same way too..and they are quite tall! Thanks for sharing the experience, Jet. Your post is fun to read, I was smiling while reading it.. 😀

  7. What a delight to read about YOUR adventure, enjoying it from the comfort of my own soft, stable desk chair.

  8. I like how you say: “it was far more unsettling and frightful; but it was more beautiful and humbling than I had expected” this is the case with other things besides camel rides as well, although I don’t have examples right now. Nicely put.

    • Yes, how many situations do we get ourselves into in life that in the end we’re glad we did it in spite of a few discomforts. Thanks very much for your kind comment, Bertie.

  9. And I am bewildered reading about it …. but I’d be very excited. Must be nice to actually do it in person. Screw rollercoaster.
    Great adventure experience for you.

    • This made me smile. It was indeed very exciting. It struck me as incredibly unique, bobbing along, 10 feet off the ground watching wild elephants in the distance. Thank you Rommel.

  10. How wonderful!!! 🙂 I love this post! 🙂 I rode a camel in the Rajastani desert in India on my 18th Birthday!! 🙂 That was lovely!! 🙂 And the camel smoked cigars, which was so funny to see! 🙂

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