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The continent of Africa is known for its wide range of terrain – from the dry plains of the Serengeti to the lush jungles of the Congo, which help to attract tourists to the national parks in search of exciting safari adventures and eco-tourist trips.
If you’re looking for an unusual way to see the landscapes of Africa, a camel trek could be right up your street. Camel tours are popular amongst tourists to desert regions, from excursions of a few hours to week long camping trips through desert landscapes.
These trails allow you the opportunity to explore landscapes, view wildlife from the backs of these hardy beasts and sleep under the stars within camps where you can rest up and enjoy local food and drink.
Whether you’re looking to travel around for just a few hours or embark on a week long desert safari, here’s a quick guide to a few countries that can be explored using the animal affectionately known as ‘the ship of the desert’:
Desert tours by camel are available from the resorts of Sharm El Sheikh as well as on the outskirts of Cairo, and give you the chance to escape the Pyramids to try something a little different.
Take a trip over the dunes of the Sinai region shaped by swirling winds over thousands of years, exploring sights such as St Catherine’s Monastery and the scenery of the Arada Canyon.
This particular tour begins in Cairo, and takes you over the dunes of the Great Sand Sea in a twelve-day excursion across the dunes, en route to the cities of El Qasr and Bahariya – where you can relax and enjoy some traditional Egyptian cuisine.
Along the way there is the chance to stop and rest at traditional Bedouin settlements, sample local food such as Maglubeh (a chicken and vegetable dish) and Mansaf (a lamb dish served with rice) and enjoy a cup of mint tea after a day’s trekking in the harsh desert climate.
Beginning at the ancient ruins at Carthage, just outside of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, this 12 day excursion visits some of the nation’s most famous monuments – including the Great Mosque of Kairouan and the Colosseum at El Djem.
The deserts of Tunisia have acted as a backdrop for many Hollywood films; Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The English Patient. The dwellings of Matmata offer a hotel service along the way, giving you the chance to spend the night in these bizarrely unique dwellings on your journey across the Sahara.
Along the way you’ll get the chance to rest and recuperate at a traditional Berber village and discover a number of Roman ruins such as Dougga before your return to Tunis.
Morocco has a varied landscape from the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert, both of which can be explored on camel tours, where you’ll be accompanied by local guides and learn about the Berber people along the way.
Beginning in the historic city of Marrakech, this tour begins with a drive over the trails that wind through the Atlas Mountains, stopping at kasbahs along the way, including the UNESCO recognised Aït Benhaddou, a Kasbah (or fortified city) which has acted as a backdrop for films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator.
Upon reaching Ouled Driss, you will then hop on board your camels and embark on a trek over sand dunes, passing palm plantations on the way. During the journey you will cross the Wadi Draa (Morocco’s longest river) and enjoy traditional tajine-cooked Moroccan food and superb sunsets as you set up camp for the evening.
Upon your return to Ouled Driss you have the opportunity to explore the town and purchase some souvenirs such as pottery and jewellery before your journey back to Marrakesh.
Namibia is a nation of geographical extremes – from the dry Namib desert to the rugged and rocky Skeleton Coast – which stretches for 6,200 miles down Namibia’s west coast and is littered with wrecks and whale bones which have bleached in the sun over the years, as well as vast colonies of fur seals.
Exploring the Namib-Naukluft Park by camel (around a four-hour drive west of the capital Windhoek) allows you the opportunity to experience the harsh conditions of an ever changing landscape and catch a glimpse of the wildlife that call the Namibian deserts home – including fennec foxes, gemsbok antelope, brown hyenas and jackals.
Tours range from two-hour treks along a dry riverbed to day-long trails which take you deep into the desert, with an overnight stay in a camp en-route before returning to base camp at Hilton Farm.
Tanzania is the location of Mt Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa at over 19,000 ft – and camel safari tours around the foot of the mountain can be an excellent way of viewing a rich range of flora and fauna of the Kilimanjaro National Park – from antelope and elephants to leopards and hyenas.
Over three days you can explore the national park on camelback, accompanied by local Maasai guides who will provide knowledge of the area and some of the best places to spot wildlife. After a day’s trekking you can relax in comfortable tents and drift off to sleep whilst listening to the sounds of the wildlife outside.
When preparing for a camel tour it is essential that you include the following items in your luggage:
• Light and comfortable clothing – including long sleeved shirts and blouses.
• Comfortable hiking shoes.
• Hats, scarves, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen.
• Sleeping bag.
Some tours will offer you the chance to rent some of these items though it can be worth double checking their availability before you travel.
Written by the Egypt holidays team at TravelSupermarket.