Camels, with their legendary ability to survive on a minimum amount of water, are used as beasts of burden in desert terrain from Morocco to Australia. In Egypt you will often see them both at work and for tourist amusement. In numerous spots you can ride one for an hour or so, led around by a trainer.
But to see the desert as its inhabitants have, a camel trek is the only way to go. Naturally it’s not as straightforward as jumping on a camel’s back and riding off into the dunes. Any reputable trekking guide will give you lessons in mounting, dismounting, saddling and directing a camel. And once you’re away you’ll be seeing landscapes which even four-wheel-drives have difficulty reaching. Some treks go for up to a week and even longer, allowing you to really get a feel for the ways of the desert. You can save the luxury and comfort of the city; here it’s all about connecting with an age-old way of life, sleeping under the stars and letting the stillness of the desert into your soul.
One of the best places for camel trekking is the Sinai Peninsula, where the sandy expanses alternate with lush oases’ and dramatic ruins. The fabled monastery of Saint Catherine serves as a start and end point of many treks. Another popular site for exploration on back of a bobbing camel is the Western Desert near the Libyan border, where the Great Sand Sea spreads over the horizon.