My brother-in-law was adamant. “Happy with pretty much everything,” he told my husband, who was presenting various holiday options over the Easter break, “except camel trekking.”
I mentally crossed the camels off the list, but then heard my husband say, “Oh, but it’s not camel trekking as you know it. With this one, you walk alongside the camels – they just carry your bags. And perhaps the children.”
A few weeks later, the camels were bearing us all, and after an hour of the jerky ride my coccyx was a throbbing hub of pain. But looking around at the Laikipia landscape as two young elephants, apparently abandoned, plodded alongside us, I thought this is really not that bad.
My stints on the camel were mercifully brief – while one parent always had to ride with our youngest, my husband mostly stepped up to the plate. And my sister’s family, including my reluctant brother-in-law, seemed reasonably content astride his sulky beast, while the kids were happiest of all. The only slightly tricky moments were during the descent, when the animal drops in several stages to the ground, pushing its passenger precipitately close to the edge.
Contrary to our first rather luxurious experience with camels, this trip with Bobong, a camel safari outfit run by hardy Laikipians John and Amanda Perrett out of Rumuruti, had fewer of the glamping aspects about it. But as I sank into my camp chair at our first bush camp with a can of beer, I found I didn’t mind that at all. An experienced team cooked up a hearty supper for us, and our kids meanwhile acquainted themselves with the tents and intricacies of the bush shower. When night fell, we climbed tiredly into our camp beds, which were surprisingly very comfortable.
Our second day took us on another long walk – most of which I spent on my own two feet – and we took the children to a dam for a swim, although lack of rain meant it was probably closer to a mud bath. If our guide was picking up rocks to throw at elephant on our way back to camp, we tried not to notice.
Our final night was the most exciting of all. Lion, having picked up the scent of the camels, stalked the camp all night, and bushfires were lit to keep them away. As we inspected their paw prints the next morning, I was glad I hadn’t known any of this at the time. After a fruitless struggle the night before, I had quite given up trying to pull the zipper down on our tent. We might have been easy prey indeed.
Cost-wise, the trip ended up costing each family around Ksh 35,000 a night inclusive of food and wine. While two nights was probably our limit with children, the Perretts offer a range of camel safari options from both Rumuruti and Soysambu, including treks lasting several weeks. Many guests choose to walk rather than ride the camels.
About the Author
I'm a former travel magazine editor, focused on Kenya, before which I covered news in Africa and beyond. These days, I travel with my kids.