Moments & Misadventures :: Camels Don’t Spit, They Sing


Ah, that special time in every traveler’s life when they get to experience a camel ride for the first time. By no means the most comfortable way to travel (I get saddle sore just thinking about it), it is still an experience that everyone should have at least once.

Our group had been traversing through Israel for the past couple of weeks. We had seen a lot of places and experienced a great perspective through it all. But we were all really looking forward to this part where we could ride a camel. We pulled up to Genesis Land near the Dead Sea where we would be riding the camels down into the valley to have lunch. Because they wanted us to feel as much a part of the story of the Canaanites as possible, we were each given a ( somewhat campy) robe of sorts to put on over our clothes. Then we went outside to meet the team.

We were put in groups of twos and directed to a camel. Mark and I were to be riding Matilda. We walked over to her and said hello and she eyed us with a irritated look. Mark got on Matilda first taking the back seat. But as I went to get on Matilda turned her head and gave a very angry horn like sound. I stepped back, now a little worried that I had unknowingly done something wrong. They told me to try to get on on the other side. I tried again only to get the same angry sound again directed towards me. “She’s never like this, I wonder what has gotten into her” the handler says. They decide that maybe Matilda should sit this ride out and instead they brought out Margot.

I approached Margot very slowly with my hand out stretched enough that she could smell me. If camels are like horses and dogs and could sense nervousness, I wanted Margot to know that I was a friend no matter what Matilda said to the contrary. One guy in our group was terrified of this camel experience and as I offered Margot my hand he started saying “Don’t do it, that camel will bite you! Or spit on you at the very least!” But Margot did not bite me or spit on me, in fact she nuzzled my hand a little as an acceptance of my offer of peace.

This time, I got on first and then Mark climbed on next. Now securely on our camels, the handlers said to hold on tight and lean back while the camels stood up. What a weird sensation to feel thrown forward while leaning back with all your might while the camel stands on the back legs and then stands on the front legs. The camels all crowded around each other as they tried to decide who was going to lead. But then we were on our way down the desert path.

We reached the tent a little ways down the hill where we would have lunch. We gathered around the table, finding a comfortable spot on the provided mats, and looked out over the incredible desert before us. They talked about the Canaanites and their life here in the desert and what it must have been like. Lunch was served on giant platters and was one of the best meals that we had the entire trip.

Then it was time to go back up the trail. We were put into groups of two again, this time I would be riding with Nick who had been worried about the camel biting me. Our camel this time was named Honey and she was as sweet as her name. She would be the leader of the group up the hill. Honey liked to stop frequently to snack on brush on the side of the trail. Nick behind me panicked every time she lowered her head for a bite, which seemed to be every few feet. Soon the other camels thought she had the right idea too and they began to stop to munch too. If the leader was doing it then they should do it too.

But what I really loved about Honey is that she loved to sing on the trail. She started making these soft humming sounds with random mah sounds in-between like a beat. I leaned down and said “Honey are you singing?” and Honey gave me a toss of her head with some more of those mah sounds but a little louder this time. I wanted to join in on the trail song and started singing along with the old ‘Yippie I Oh Kayay’. I sang the old cowboy song and Honey hummed and mahhed along as we made our way up the trail, with the occasional stopping for a brush snack.

Our camel ride was at an end. While Nick jumped off as soon as he could I was hesitant, not because I was nervous anymore about riding a camel but because I wasn’t ready for the experience to be over. I got off of Honey and gave her a soft stroke on her neck. I got down low so I could take a picture of me with my sweet singing friend. She smiled for the camera and hummed again tossing her head. Oh Honey, I loved our desert song together too and it will always be one of my favorite parts of the trip.

27 thoughts on “Moments & Misadventures :: Camels Don’t Spit, They Sing

  1. Itโ€™s a lovely experience – though my first one ended in disaster, and pain. The secone one just recently in Tunisia was without incident so camels are back in favour. But yes I so agree – the feeling of riding and watching the desert go by is serene.

    1. I actually was telling my riding companion about your injury laden experience of riding a camel after I managed to get on the camel! I am glad that your second camel ride was less of an ordeal and that you could more enjoy the scenery of the ride ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I loved our camel ride too, although awkward it was fun. Although for some reason my camel had stirrups, Richard’s didn’t so he was not at all comfortable. Glad you enjoyed it despite not having stirrups. Maggie

    1. I bet stirrups would make a world of difference in the comfort of the ride! It is certainly an awkward way to get around but oh so fun at the same time. I hope you have a great week ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. What a great experience. I’ve never been on a camel, just an elephant. She really looked like she was smiling along with you

    1. I would love to ride an elephant. I read somewhere they if you come back 20 years later that elephant will still remember you. what a lovely thought that is. I wonder if my camel friend would remember me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. What an interesting post Meg. I’ve never had an opportunity to ride on a camel yet but maybe one day. Did you just sit on and hold onto the reins or were you strapped in as well. You seemed to handle the camels well so have you previously been horse riding not that it’s quite the same of course!

    1. Thank you Marion! We were not strapped in at all, we just had to hold on tight. I was really worried when the camel stood up that I was going to fall off face first into the sand because you lean so far forward as the camel gets up. I think horse back riding is a little easier because you have the stirrups to use to get on and to give you better balance while you ride. I hope you get to ride a camel one day- it is definitely a different experience ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. This also had me smiling from start to finish. As you may recall one of my standout experiences in India was riding a camel and much of your story rang true with my own. Except, that is, for the singing, how wonderful that must have been. The lunch also looks and sounds wondrous. Nice shot at the end there, Honey looks delighted to be heading for blog fame.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Leighton. I really think f Honey the camel is the greatest marketing influence they have. Who wouldnt want a camel ride with such a sweet singing camel who enjoys frequent snacks on the trail!

  6. Hi Meg. I don’t know how we’ve missed you as a WP blogger before now, but I’m glad our paths have now crossed. I (Kellye) thoroughly enjoyed reading about your camel trek in Israel. How sweet that you and Honey bonded over singing! I had a few laughs, too, when you described your “camel mate” being so afraid – maybe he has had a bad experience with a camel before. Thank you for sharing your adventure. We look forward to following you!

    1. Hi Kellye! Thank you so much- that is really kind of you to say! My camel mate was really nervous about not only the ride but about everything in Israel. He had never left Tennessee before venturing to Israel so I guess I can understand his concern at somewhere so different. Looking forward to following you too ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Sounds like an incredible adventure. I love the picture of you and Honey smiling for the camera. Iโ€™ve never been on a camel before, but Iโ€™m intrigued. Someday.

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