Why we use camels for our trips

We sometimes get questions about using camels on our trips. Or people say they want to go on a trip without using animals. Because they are worried about the animals welfare. I understand that.

But we have a good reason for using them, and I will explain this to you in this post.

Yes, I get it! Using animals to hike through the desert might seem like exploitation. You are worried about how they are trained and treated and how much they have to carry on our trip.

 

I can assure you, the camels we use, are in good hands, if possible we use the ones from Hassan’s family and soon also mine. Or our friend Omar’s, who we did previous trips with and we know him and his family well.

 

People here are really watching over their camels, as their livelyhood depends on them. They need healthy, strong animals. Otherwise they loose their jobs and income.

 

When I bought my camel, we asked around, if he was big enough to start training him for riding yet (we knew he was still too young). And everyone said, no, wait another year. Because of the pandemic, that year turned into 2, but now he is finally big and strong enough to carry weight.

 

The nomads have used camels for centuries, to move their belongings to their winter/summer pastures. Or to transport goods through the desert. Like salt, gold, and sadly even slaves. They can carry up to 250 kg on their backs. But we make it a point to not load them this heavily. We rather take an additional camel on our trips and spread out the weight.

If no one would go camel riding anymore, what would happen to the camels?

I can tell you that, because it happened last year when the pandemic put tourism on hold here in Morocco.

They got sold to slaughterhouses! The people here just couldn’t afford to feed them for months on end without any income. So if everyone refused to ride/use the camels here, they would all be doomed to death. I for one really don’t like the thought of that.

Why don't people just let them go into the wild?

Well, for one, they are an investment for most people here. And they can’t affod to just throw money out the window.

But also, there is not enogh food in the wild for them to survive, or water for that matter.

What would be the alternative for our trips?

The alternative is to carry everything on your body, but that is impossible with all the water you would need. We have to calculate at least 3-4 litres per person per day. Plus water for cooking. And while you could forgo your personal hygiene for a few days and just use wet wipes, it does feel nict to brush your teeth with actual water.

Yes, we do find wells along the way. But that water is not always great for drinking, needs to be treated and you shouldn’t rely on it if you don’t have to. You never know when you will be stuck in place for a day or two due to a big sand storm.

 

Another alternative would be using 4x4s to bring water to each camp site. Still, this is not something I want to rely on for emergencies. We always need to be flexible with weather changes and might camp in other places than originally planned.

Also, 4x4s destroy the environment, they destroy the dunes with their wheels, scare all small animals with the noise, use a lot of fuel, so are pretty bad for the climate. Plus they are expensive and cannot necessarily reach everywhere we go.

So is there an alternative if you really don't want to come on a camel supported trip?

Yes, you can walk across the dunes and stay in a camp. Between other camps. They get their supplies by 4×4, drain water from the reserves under the dunes, long term destroying the date palms and gardens around here by lowering the water levels. And you will miss out on all the remote places we go, the quiteness and darkness you can experience there.

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