Our sunset camel safari; Baby camels, vertigo and panic attacks
Updated: Feb 5, 2020
When steffan suggested a sunset camel ride I was completely in. 100% in. I love animals, and camels are cool. I used to ride horses so how hard can it be?
I did my usual, booked it that moment and couldn’t wait. We smugly responded to anyone asking if we were free that night that we would be riding camels in Morocco whilst watching the sunset. Yes we are nerds. And smug ones at that. It wasn’t until we had almost arrived that panic set in. For me anyway. Steff was so excited. I couldn’t breathe. I knew myself. Not only was I suffering from anxiety anyway but I had visions of falling off and completely embarrassing myself or the camel just legging it across Palm grove. Not what I had envisaged when I had booked it in the safety of our own home.
Either way I managed to pull myself together enough to act happy and smile where appropriate in all photographs.
We had booked through TripAdvisor and it cost £78 GBP for the two of us and I would definitely recommend booking through them as the pick up and drop off was seamless, the tour guide was amazing and the camels seemed very well looked after.
We have dropped the link at the bottom of the post.
So, what can you expect from your sunset camel safari at the palm grove of Marrakech?
Pick up was included and despite us not being able to find them through no fault of theirs, they were on time and it only took around half an hour to reach the camel riding location. The minibus wasn’t huge, only a 10 seater so we didn’t have to stop at lots of other hotels which was also a bonus for us. Upon arrival we were greeted with a line of camels all lay down looking chilled out and a friendly tour guide who excitedly dressed us up in traditional outfits. Bright blue is my colour, so I was happy. Steffan managed to pull it off even better than me with his dark hair and beard but even so I did okay.
We were also super lucky as there were baby camels running around. They don’t need to be tied up as they stay close to their mums anyway and they just follow the camel tour. Well they run around doing their own thing, but they stay close. A camel ride is awesome, but a camel ride with baby camels running alongside us was out of this world. We were in camel heaven. Once you are all cladded up and feeling completely traditional berber you are allocated your camel. How they do this I don’t know. I felt like maybe we were being sized up on how fat we were, but it seemed to make no sense and much to my relief I wasn’t given the biggest camel. You have the chance to take photographs with the camels, and the tour guide will also take some photos for you before you even get on which is super helpful when its just the two of you.
Top tip, hold on for dear life when they stand up. Lean which ever way they tell you to and take it seriously. Despite my earlier panic I had managed to relax myself too far the other way and thought nothing of casually leaning when my camel stood up which resulted in me very nearly falling off over her head! It made me feel better to learn that Steffan almost did the same, so I think its best we pass this on to any beginner camel rider like ourselves. This also counts for when they lay down, maybe even more so. Lean the way directed and mean it.
The camels are roped together, much to my relief. It meant my earlier fears of my camel legging it quickly faded into the distance. And the tour guide always stayed close by. They seemed to, for the most part respond to verbal ques and so he didn’t hold the leading camel the whole time. The camel riding lasts around one hours which is more than long enough as your legs and bum really start to feel it after a while, you are not only much higher than you imagine but your legs are straddled a huge cushioned seat so you definitely start to feel a little stiff by the end. The ride is not, as we first thought, at the Sahara Desert. Unless you take a few days out to visit the desert getting there just to ride a camel isn’t feasible as its quite a trek from Marrakech. Instead this ride is done at Palm Grove which is a quiet stretch of land covered in palm trees with the odd group of children playing football. If you imagine the safari to be like the photos you see on Instagram with the sand dunes in the background you will be disappointed. That said it is peaceful, there was only one other group of camels being ridden, despite the weather being cloudy it was still a beautiful sunset and the star of the show is of course you are riding a camel in Morocco. If we had more time, we would have visited the desert and favoured a ride there for obvious reasons. But if like us you are short on time this makes a good substitute.
As you continue the trek the tour guide will take your camera or phone and take photos for you which again is super helpful and means we got a few photos of the two of us.
Something I feel I need to share with you is the fact you might get a screaming camel. And its not personal. Ill keep the story brief, but Steffan’s camel, whose head was super close to my legs kept making these god-awful wailing noises most of the ride. Which me being ridiculous, assumed the camel didn’t like me, or it was close to having a melt down or even maybe it had been over worked and was deeply unhappy? Either way it put me on edge and even more so when my camel decided to join in with the wailing.
After some time, I asked the tour guide if this was a regular camel noise or is anything wrong? To which he explained that one of the baby camels was hers, and she was calling it. Her little bundle of joy had decided he was best friends with two other baby camels who were frolicking around 100 metres away with the other tour group and mummy camel was quite understandably not happy about it. When said baby camel returned the wailing ceased so I was relieved and pleased to know it wasn’t personal. And you should know this too if you ever have a camel wailing experience on your ‘relaxing’ camel sunset safari ride its not aimed at you. Most probably anyway.
This leads me on to the next point. As avid animal lovers, their welfare is always a concern when travelling. I am ashamed to say I had no idea that elephant riding was so detrimental to not only their physical health but also their mental well being as they are trained in such a cruel way, until I researched this prior to visiting Thailand. So, when Steffan suggested the camel ride I set about researching not only camel riding itself but also the tour company as well. I was cautious when we arrived examining the camels (as if I am some sort of camel well being expert!?) and talked lots to the tour guide. They honestly seemed well looked after. The way he treated them and spoke to them was with affection and care, calling them by name and talking to them often. He also assured us they only do three rides per day and that their well being was super important to him and this made the whole experience much more enjoyable.
After the hour-long ride, we stopped at a ‘traditional berber house’ for mint tea, olives and bread. It’s a small marquee with cushioned seats, fold out tables and strangely but kind of endearingly decorated with Christmas tinsel and barbie bunting! The snacks and tea were well received and the lovely lady hosting us filled up our tea often as well as chatting to us on occasion and it was a nice experience and a welcomed the rest on a non-moving comfy chair after the ride.
After around an hour the driver takes you back to central Marrakech and drops you off either back at your accommodation or in the centre depending on your preference.
Our opinion was it was a really cool experience, the sunset was epic despite it being cloudy and we got some awesome photographs. But it’s no Sahara Desert and when we return (which we plan to) we will opt for spending a few nights in the desert and maybe even take another camel ride with those stunning sand dunes in the background!
£78.56 for two people including pick up and drop off, the camel ride, traditional dress, photos taken by the tour guide and snacks and mint tea afterwards
Time of tour
They state 2 hours before sunset, call them or ask your accommodation to in order to let them know where you are staying and the exact pick up time. Ours was 6pm collection time but this will vary depending on the time of the year you visit
We give it four out of five and its only losing a point through no fault of their own and that’s due to it just not being as picturesque as the Sahara, but for someone short on time like us its perfect.
I give it a five out of five as I struggled to stay on. Steffan gives it a one out of five. We will leave it there.
Link to book