One of the finest ways of experiencing the East African landscape is by camel. Ideally suited to the landscape, the specially trained Somali camels are typically led either by their Somali owners, or by the local tribes people.Essentially, a camel safari is a walking safari. Guests can, however, elect either to ride the camels or walk beside them. Evocative and memorable, camel safaris are typically staged in the beautiful semi-arid landscapes of the remoter territories.
The drivers are usually from the Samburu tribe, and offer a fascinating and friendly cultural interaction. Guests also have the opportunity to meet other indigenous peoples, such as the Rendille, Borana and Turkana.
Most of the travelling is done in the early morning, when it is cool and the wildlife is at its best. Half of the camels carry your personal daypacks and refreshment, the others carry the overnight camping equipment, remaining behind to be loaded and eventually catching up with the main train. Typically, the train will halt for lunch, at which point the camp will be established. Guests are then at leisure, either to relax or to take a nature walk. As the sun sets, a campfire will be lit, ‘sundowners’ served, and a candle-lit dinner presented.
Camps vary, usually mosquito-proof tents are provided, together with comfortable bedding, WC tents and hot showers. Typically there will also be a central ‘mess tent’ and a central campfire.
A number of upcountry safari lodges offer camel rides – guided by local Samburu or Somali guides – typical duration one hour; around the grounds of the lodge or, sometimes, in the wilderness. On the coast beach camel rides are offered – duration approx one hour.
Camel rides are offered both in some of the upcountry lodges and on the coast. Usually accompanied by Somali or Samburu tribesmen, the camels make the ideal form of transport in the arid northern frontier districts.
Many tented camps (such as Sweetwaters Tented Camp in Kenya) offer one-hour rides, which set off from within the grounds of the lodge or camp and follow a typically scenic route. Other camel treks take visitors between two different lodges or private reserves, and privately tailored treks can be arranged to cover a specific region.