This was offered as an option at the desert camp – an option that only six of our number took up, which surprised me. I personally rather like camels, despite their (probably deserved) reputation for surliness. Without doubt this was a great experience. We were led out into the dunes and took a circular route at some distance from the camp, so that for most of the ride we could quite easily imagine, just briefly, how it would have been to travel the desert in a caravan at the height of the Silk Road’s domination. And the late afternoon light on the dunes was really special, as I hope my photos indicate. As there were only six of us (so no need for the camel owners to do several trips) we got quite a bit longer than the promised hour, but I for one was still sorry to see the camp come back into sight and know that our ride was over and I had to say goodbye to Kumba, “my” camel.
One word of warning though – Chris found himself riding alongside one of travelling companions, Sally-Ann, who unfortunately had been allocated a camel who appeared to be suffering from the same digestive ailments as some of us, and with a lot less control! This at first only gave Chris a problem of smell, and distraction from the beauties of the desert, but then Sally-Ann’s camel decided he would like to walk much closer to Chris’s, and the result was a very unpleasant deposit on Chris’s leg ;(
Luckily (?) he was wearing shorts rather than long trousers, so only he needed to be washed – and this is how Chris came to be the first in our group to try out the slightly primitive, but thankfully very effective, showers!!
To visit one of these yurt camps I think you need to be on a tour – either exploring Uzbekistan in a group as we were, or you could maybe book a short tour yourself which could be incorporated in longer independent trip (I saw one such trip on the internet at http://www.komiltravel.com/index/84599)
Our main tour bus was unsuitable for the rough roads (little more than tracks in the sand) leading to the camp, so it was parked in the village of Yangigazgan for the night and we transferred to this old soviet bus for the final 7 kilometres. It seemed old and uncared for, but I think that was just on the surface, as it coped very well with the desert conditions. OK it was pretty uncomfortable and I wouldn’t have wanted to do a long drive in it, but it certainly did the job and got us there!
One great little touch in the bus’s décor caught our eye …
If you’ve read some of my other pages you’ll know that Chris and I are big fans of Newcastle United – so you can imagine our pleased surprise to find that this bus had a small sticker of a former Newcastle player (the gorgeous David Ginola) in the famous black and white strip above the door :)