14th January 2016
Tour leader Cally Savage is just back from Oman Desert Christmas Adventure.
Today we journey towards Wahiba sands and our first taste of our wild camping expedition. En route we spot a young man at the camel race track exercising some racing camels. He is riding a large white camel and is leading four other smaller camels with their humps poking up out of their custom made camel blankets, making them look very sweet indeed. He kindly stops on his way back up towards the track for us to take some photos and then ‘trots’ off into the distance again with the sound of ‘yellah, yellah’ ringing in our ears. A tale from our local guide as to the cost of some racing camels would rival any Cheltenham winning racehorse, seven million dollars, being one story I heard! This is certainly the start of my fascination and love affair with these resilient, independent, headstrong, four legged creatures. Just as the horse enabled western men to explore foreign lands, to farm, and win battles, so too has the camel enabled people to survive and thrive in an otherwise difficult environment.
Later on in the trip we were lucky enough to taste some camel milk in the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) given to us by a kind Bedouin. It has quite a pleasant taste, slightly foamy and sweet. Apparently it is a very good detoxifying cleanser, and keeps everything ‘ship shape and shine’ internally, especially if you are not accustomed to it. Needless to say I refrained from having too many sips as we were only starting our wild camping! As it was breeding season there were many camels and their calves kept in the coral. One lovely black camel wandered over to investigate the tourists and let me spend some time petting his soft muzzle and tickling his chin. These black camels are exclusive to the Empty Quarter due to their ability to store water longer in their humps, and they have larger padded feet to enable them to travel easier through the deep soft sand.
Upon reaching our base for the night and pitching our tents, a few of us scrambled up the high dunes to watch the sun go down. Respectfully we all filtered off, trying to get to that ever -elusive higher peak, akin to chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. As dusk fell and the silence set in, instead of making one feel insignificant in the face of such isolation, for my part anyway it made me feel more connected and thankful. My ponderings however were broken by the wind picking up and sending sand swooping off the ledge of the dune and flying back into my face. I took this as a sign to leave my inner reflections and rejoin the group, until the next call to return to it at dawn!