The Bactrian camel is endemic of the steppes of Central Asia. It has two humps full of fat, unlike its cousin the dromedary that lives in North Africa and in Middle East. The Bactrian camel is much rarer than the dromedary, we count between 1,5 and 2 millions, almost exclusively domesticated. About 950 Bactrian camels still live in the wild, essentially in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and in North China.
The Bactrian camel is the biggest camel. It’s between 1,80 and 2,30 metres (5,91 - 7,55 feet) at the withers and its head can culminate at 3,50 metres (11,48 feet) from the ground. The smallest females weigh 300 kilograms (661,39 pounds), whereas the dominant males can reach one ton.
In winter, it’s covered with a long woolly coat that makes it majestic, but if you see it during summer, it will have lost its hair.
Going in the Gobi Desert on camelback is the major experience of any trip in this remote area of our planet. From atop of your mount, you will see the desert as the camels’ breeders of Gobi see it, and will discover the hidden places of this hostile region. But be careful, even if the pace is rather slow, a camel trek can turn to be very tiring. Our advices :
- Make sure of wearing long trousers, socks and closed shoes. You can also put your trousers inside your socks. Don’t forget your hat, scarf, sunglasses and solar cream !
- Sitting on a camel (and dismounting) is probably the most impressive moment. You sit between the two humps while the camel is crouching (this is not a big deal). Then the camel gets back on its feet extending first its back legs (which will make you overbalance forward), then its front legs (and you’ll overbalance backwards). So you must be careful and hold your belongings (your camera notably).
- The saddle is composed of a carpet and stirrups. You sit between the camel’s humps. The camel is wide, and it’s not unusual to have aches inside the thighs during the hike or at the end of it. A cream or a painkiller can be useful.
- The pace of the hike is quite slow. A local guide may hold your camel with a lunge. Even if the camel is a quiet animal and if it’s difficult to make it trot along, it might be carried away. So you must stay attentive during the whole hike and not have a risky behaviour that could frighten the animals.
- If you don’t feel comfortable, your camel could feel it and it could make it nervous. So firmly hold the reins and show the animal that you’re self-confident ; this will calm it. Properly sit, you will also avoid to fall.
Right ! Now you’re ready to fully enjoy your camel trek and to admire Gobi’s landscapes !