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Camels at Sunset - Uluru

blog-0130593001398267560.jpgOur last evening at Uluru was spent on a camel ride with a sunset view of Uluru. We spent the earlier part of the day hiking in the domes of Kata Tjuta. Following that we returned to our camp to get showers and dressed for the evening. We were picked up at a bus stop just outside the entrance to the campground. It was a small, 30 person bus and we got the last two seats. After a short ride from the campground and we arrived at the camel stables. We were escorted into the office and given a short briefing before meeting our camels. They were all lined up, saddled waiting for us. The line of camels were all sitting on the ground. It is amazing how they can fold up those long legs and sit right on top of them.

We were given the mount and dismount instructions and then assigned a camel. When we climbed on the heavier person gets the rear seat, that’s me! Mounting from the left, swing a leg up and over being careful not to catch your foot on the lead to the next camel in line. There is a lead rope tied to our saddle for the camel that is behind. There is also a small line with a clip to the nose of that camel. The clip on the nose is to keep the camel from regurgitating its last meal! It is a time honored solution to a messy situation. Catching a foot on either line would be unpleasant for the camel and also for me.

Louise then swung into the saddle in front of me. The saddle was a single saddle, two seats, one in front of the hump and the other behind. We had stirrups for our feet and there were bars in front of each of us to give us a place to hold on. And hold on we did as the camel stood up. We had to lean back then the cameleer would tell the camel to stand giving it a prod on the hindquarters with a hand if necessary. Most of the camels would bray loudly at this point as they lifted their load raising to full height on their hind legs and then rising on their front legs. Our camel was no exception. We really weren’t that heavy a load. A camel can carry about 1500 pounds for great distances in the desert.

Camels came to Australia many years ago and they have adapted well to the conditions here. There are numerous places where you find camels here and rides are readily available. As far as I know, there is only one franchise for camel rides at Uluru, Uluru Camel Tours. I would rate the quality of the ride as simply outstanding. The staff of a photographer, who seemed to be in charge, and seven cameleers plus a cook and bartender were all very engaging and did an excellent job of explaining what they were doing and answering questions about the camels and the operation at the camel stables.

The camels were in two lines that traveled independently. There were ten camels in our line and another 15 in the other line. We led the way out of the stables across the desert up and down several dunes. From the top of the dunes we could see Uluru in the distance. As the ride continued the light and shadows changed on Uluru, the sky color changed and the shadows faded as the sun set. Watching the sunrise and sunset on Uluru is one of the major activities here. I took a few photos but riding on a camel, it was hard to be steady enough to get good photos. I took advantage of the pauses to snap some shots of Uluru as well as the rest of the group. In the end I purchased the CD with all the pictures of the event as well as a few pictures of desert critters, all done by the professional photographer.

The lead camel was ridden by a cameleer so they had control of starting and stopping the camel train. Along side there was a cameleer walking and monitoring the behavior of the camels. The longer line had two cameleers. We were encouraged to ask questions and did so. Since we were in the middle of the line, the cameleer that was on foot was always somewhere near where we were and we carried on a near constant conversation with him. He was quite informative and told us about plants and animals found in the desert as well as his personal history of working there and some general information about Australia.

As the light faded from the sky we returned to the stables and dismounted. Then we went into the office area and they had snacks laid out for us and a variety of drinks. There was also merchandise and the photos. We had a great time, there were drinks aplenty and the staff was there to explain everything that hadn’t already been discussed. The cook talked about the desert version of beer bread and also the ingredients that went into making this delicious bread as well as the dips. We went home well satisfied with our experience.



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