I lurched forward at an impossible angle, leaning back as far as I could and clinging to the metal bar in front of me, desperately trying to keep myself from lurching into the red dust below. With another jerky movement, everything evened out again, and I was successfully astride a standing camel.
As a line of camels with human cargo began plodding forward, I was told that my glorious steed was named Bonnie, and that she was getting on in years but had been one of their best racing camels. I gave her a pat and whispered, “Let’s keep it below a trot today, okay Bon Bon?” Bonnie silently chewed her assent.
Behind me, a very large camel named Jack thrust his face dangerously close to my knee. Having been warned that he was a ‘proud camel’ and not to be overly affectionate, I tentatively scratched behind his ears. He impassively looked on, like this was the most boring thing in the world.
And then we were off – trekking through the bright red sand as the sun slowly lowered itself toward the western horizon. Riding a camel was a surprisingly comfortable experience. Having learned to horseback ride as a child I expected the same necessity to squeeze/kick to get the animal going, but really our stirrups were just there for comfort. Once the lead camel started going, they all went. No sore legs after this trip!
We slowly slumped our way towards the border of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and were awarded with a phenomenal view of the sun setting behind Kata Tjuta and reflecting off of Uluru.
We stopped for a short photo shoot (Bonnie out-posed us), and Jack thrust his head toward my knee again, baring his very sizable teeth and making me shrink away from him (well, as much as you shrink away with your leg pinned onto a 200-pound animal). I said a silent prayer that he wouldn’t take a fist-sized chunk out of my leg for daring to pet his proud head, and the guide laughed and said he was probably just barfing up his cud so he had something to chew. Charming.
After about an hour and a half of trekking through the lands bordering the national park, we were treated to a couple of glasses of champagne and some ‘bush tucker’ snacks. My sister and I cheersed to another successful tick on the bucket list, gave Bonnie a farewell pat, and hurried back to our beds.
What: Camel to Sunset Tour
Cost: $125 per person
Booking Tips: If you’re in Uluru for a couple of days, call and book directly and ask how many are scheduled to be on the tour for the evenings you will be there, so you can potentially get a smaller group. If you want to splash out, you can trek via camel to the Sounds of Silence dinner too!