Aahhhh, camel riding in Israel! It might be a bit too touristy for some, but when you’re vacationing in this neck of the desert, a camel ride is an absolute must (just like floating in the Dead Sea)! To be honest, just how will you be able to return home and face the masses if you don’t take a ride on a camel??!
The first thing you have to realize, is that you can’t ride a camel just anywhere. Contrary to popular opinion, camels don’t roam the streets of Tel Aviv with their Bedouin masters, and you’re unlikely to find them in Jerusalem either (although there is usually one or two available for souvenir snaps overlooking the Mount of Olives).
The best place to get an organized, safe camel ride is via the various camel ranches (yes, there are camel ranches!) and pit-stops through the Negev desert. The rides available can range from simple half hour treks in the desert, to full day tours with a Bedouin lunch included. Check out the list below for a guide to the main camel ride options.
Camel Land, otherwise known as the Mamshit – Kurnub Camel Ranch, can be reached on the road between the Dead Sea and Beer Sheva. Not only is this a working farm, but it also breeds and trains camels and apparently has the largest herd in Israel.
There are a number of tours available: 1 hour, 2 hours, and 4 hours, with options for much longer if required. Prices start at 65 shekels for kids (kids under 3 are FREE). For more details, call them on 972-8-6552829. Their website: www.cameland.co.il
This great little desert resort, at the edge of the Western Negev, is a great place to escape for a couple of days. We’ve been there with the kids, ridden camels, and it’s awesome! They have a variety of accommodation options for guest, which are generally cheap and good, with a range of camel tours too. Prices start at 40-50 shekels for a 20 minute ride, to 450 shekels for a 24 hour camel caravan, including sleeping out in the desert.
If you can, try and catch one of their party specials, which generally happen twice a year, complete with resident DJ Orly, who will have you bopping with the best of them. For more details, call 08-6555788. Their website: www.beerotayim.co.il
This working farm resort, located between Arad and Masada via Road 31, has a variety of camel (and donkey) rides that take you through neighboring Bedouin desert lands. There are no details of prices on their website, so call 972-8-9950097. They also hold regular events here and have real, Bedouin style lodgings to enjoy. Their website: www.hanokdim.com
Eilat Camel Farm
With a variety of camel tours available, ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours, this is one of the perfect spots to take a camel ride, as they are located at the entrance to Wadi Shlomo, a starting point for many unique desert trails. Great for all the family, it’s open all year round. The tours are led by professional Israeli guides – they also don’t have any prices listed, so try calling 972-8-6370022. Their website: www.camel-ranch.co.il
This great ecological resort, located in the heart of the Judean desert, on the way to the Dead Sea, really does give you a glimpse into life as it was in biblical times. Great hospitality, coupled with lots of great workshops like fresh pita making and shepherding, make this a special place to consider. As far as we can tell, the camel rides are only part of the visit, and they don’t really have camel tours as such. But they do provide a great desert experience. Call 02-9974477 for more details; their website is www.genesisland.co.il.
Located in the deep south, next to Yotvata on the road to Eilat, this is a great spot for a camel trek. They have a variety of tours, including a 2 hour tour at 135 shekels per person (minimum of 5 needed), and an all day trek for 260 shekels per person (minimum of 6 needed but does include lunch). Call 972-8-6373218 for details. Their website: www.camel-riders.com
Hay (Hi) Park
Not really a camel ranch but more of a zoo, this is a great place for the kids to enjoy. It’s located in Kiryat Motzkin, which is in the Haifa area – yes, nowhere near the desert! Here they have camel rides every Saturday, which start at 20 shekels. But, to be honest, this isn’t really the desert experience you were probably hoping for…call 972-4-8757445 if you’re stuck in the north and won’t be able to make it down south. Their website: www.haypark.co.il