7 Reasons Not To Ride a Camel Through the Giza Pyramids in Egypt

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DSC 1933 252x167 7 Reasons Not To Ride a Camel Through the Giza Pyramids

This post is going to come off as hypocritical: I literally just dismounted from the camel that took me through the Giza pyramid complex near Cairo, Egypt. Aside from the sore thighs — you have to spread your legs rather wide in order to ride one of these guys! — I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

But riding a camel through the Giza pyramids isn’t for everyone. If you’re having doubts about whether you should add a camel ride to your Egypt itinerary, read through these potential pitfalls to aid you in your decision.

1. You’re probably going to get ripped off

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Prices on camels are reputedly government-fixed at the Giza pyramids, unlike at the Saqqara “step” pyramid pictured here.

I was lucky, or so I think. My driver, whom I booked through my hostel, took me to the government camel office (yes, there is such a place here in Egypt), which allowed me to book a two-hour camel ride for just LE 300, or about $50. Of course, I had no idea when I agreed whether this is actually a good deal — and I still don’t. It’s extremely difficult to tell whether or not someone is honest in Egypt.

2. It’s difficult to take pictures from the saddle

Even if you’re not as ardent a shutterbug as I am, you’ll find your photo snapping abilities greatly impaired once the camel lifts itself off the ground. I wouldn’t go so far as to the say the ride is rough, but I don’t recommend doing it one-handed, at least not at the beginning of the journey.

3. People for the ethical treatment of camels? Not in Egypt

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It’s like a rental car lot, huh?

Hear that cracking sound? It’s the guy riding on the horse behind you, whipping the camel so it walks faster. On one hand, I suppose this is the way they do it and have always done it here. Still, I’m not going to lie: My camel looked miserable the entire time, which broken my camel-loving heart into a million pieces.

4. Riding a camel is harder (and more painful) than it looks

Photography not important to you? Great! You can hold on with both hands. Of course riding a camel isn’t just a matter of holding on. It requires you to find the right place on the saddle — some are less sturdy than others, owing to the gap between the animal’s two humps — and clench your legs together tightly enough to ensure you don’t fall off.

5. You can’t go at your own pace or follow your own path

I’ve never ridden a horse, but I always imagined riding one to be kind of like driving a car. Namely, that it takes you to where you want to go when you tell it to. This isn’t the case for camels for two reasons: (1) The aforementioned asshole with the whip is the one calling the shots, not you; (2) Camels walk slowly, even at their fastest.

6. Thirsty? Grow a hump

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Local Bedouins make it looks way easier than it actually is.

In case you haven’t gotten it by now, you cannot ride a camel without at least one hand on the saddle. Another practical difficulty this leads to is being unable to drink water. Unless, of course, you feel comfortable drinking hands-free.

7. Now it’s time to tip

As if the price of the camel wasn’t high enough — to its credit, this figure does include the LE 60 entrance fee for the pyramids complex — you’re expected to tip not only the person who whipped the camel from the comfort of a horse, but also the person who led the camel by a rope the entire way. Naturally the amount is up to you, but my pair seemed only barely satisfied by the LE 150 (about $22) I gave the two of them to split.

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