Camels, kids and Cable Beach

A sunset camel ride on Broome’s Cable Beach is one of those bucket list items. Some say it’s a complete tourist trap, if it was then our family with kids aged two and five happily fell victim to this unbelievable experience.

Meeting Kadesh

The kids were besotted with Kadesh as soon as we were introduced a handsome single humped camel whom we were to be taking a short 30 minute stroll along Cable Beach on. A camel’s average lifespan ranges from 40-50 years, at 14 years old Kadesh was still a kid, perhaps that explains why he didn’t have the expected surly demeanor, as most camels do.

Our guide explains that Kadesh is the “dream camel” ever obedient, one that never complains and “takes anything that’s thrown at him”. Between my husband, the kids and I, our combined weight was 165 kilograms (374 pounds) and we felt lucky to have an agreeable Kadesh on our side.

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Up on top of Kadesh, ready to go

As Kadesh rose from his knees, the kids squealed with laughter, my youngest daughter let out a “yee hah” and we were up. With an average height of 1.85 meters tall (6ft) from the shoulders, we had a lovely vantage point over the calm blue vastness of the Indian Ocean.

I must admit, the first part of the ride is all about getting your bearings and as mums do check that everyone was safe and content, my knuckles were white and I held a firm grip around my second born, ever so cautiously surveying our surroundings and focussed on making sure our kids didn’t tumble down to be trodden on by a chain of two toed camel feet below.

As we ease forward my grip begins to loosen as we settle into the magical surroundings. Switching my mind to the swish of the camels tail ahead of us, admire his lovely long lashes and listen to the giggles from my animal loving two year old straddled in front of me.

There’s a calmness about the ride, perched atop gentle Kadesh, he makes little sound and rhythmically rocks us along as he puts one foot after another on the soft sand and we recline a little further back and enjoy the ride.

What makes a Cable Beach camel ride so special?

What makes the camel ride so special is for a brief moment the entire family sits happily together enjoying the same experience; of being carried by a camel along one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches.

With two young kids, the moments are rare when you have both of their undivided attention at the same time. Straddling a double harness atop a camel, fixed in one spot, we had nothing else to do for that window of time than to sit back and take it all in.

Together as a family, we swayed to the unusual gait of the camel, where they move two feet on the same side of the body at a time. We were lulled by the gentle waves and felt the heat of the sun as it made it’s decent into the ocean. Occasionally we passed a leathery topless woman getting an afternoon tan and waved at the tourists armed with cameras taking a photo of our procession of camels.

No sooner had the camel ride started, Kadesh was already turning us around towards our starting point. On the homeward bound, the kids learned about their beloved Kadesh. The camel guides eagerly throw camel facts at us whilst simultaneously taking photos with our cameras.

The story of our Cable Beach camel, Kadesh

Kadesh was picked up in Darwin and was transported to Broome alongside a fellow camel in the the caravan, Jarndah who was the camel in front of us.

It was a long road trip (aproximately 1,810 km or 1,162 miles) over some bumpy roads and they became the best of buddies. Both were trained by the “Camel Lady” owner Allison Bird in Broome and have been taking people for rides ever since.

The most endearing is that Kadesh is often tied next to Jarndah and when he walks he likes to step out of formation to get as close to him as possible. Our son loved the idea that Kadesh had a bestie.

As cowgirls do, our daughter wanted to tip her hat and “Yee Hah” once again, only her hat went flying off her head onto the sand. The shore footed guides were able to retrieve it quick enough, with the courteous camels behind us side stepping the hat. Alison has trained the camels with manners and notes on chivalry.

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Our family enjoying the ride on Kadesh who is chasing after his mate Jarndah

Half an hour is more than enough time to ride camels on Cable Beach

The half hour pre-sunset ride was nearing it’s end, the perfect amount of time as the kids began to squirm in their seats and our son let out a “Are we there yet?”

That moment of calmness and serenity had passed. Kadesh gently lowered us down and we thanked him for returning us safely. It was back to chasing kids on the beach, building sandcastles and splashing in waves before freshening. This was only a precursor to the much anticipated Cable Beach at sunset headlining act.

Broome’s Cable Beach camel tour operators – red or blue?

There are a two camel tours operating on Broome’s Cable Beach, there’s Red Sun Camels (red blankets) and Broome Camel Safaris (blue blankets) which we ended up taking due to the rave reviews on tripadvisor.

Though I can’t vouch for Red Sun Camels, they all appear to offer similar camel rides, along the same well trodden path at the Northern end of the beach. Each company of camels appear to be healthy and happy (as far as camels can be).

Both operators have a 40 minute morning ride, a 30 minute pre-sunset ride and a 1 hour sunset ride on the same route along the beach. For families with kids, it’s best to compare prices as it slightly varies. For example the pre-sunset ride would cost $115 for our family on the blue blankets and $130 for our family on the red blankets.

The former Ships of the Desert (yellow blankets) no longer operate camel rides in Broome. 

Costs of a Cable Beach camel ride in Broome

There is a reason why the Cable Beach camels are so healthy and well trained, they have the love of their owner, a lighter workload than other camels around the world but also larger funds to sustain them.

An average sunset camel ride around the Pyramids of Giza in Egyp  would set you back around $25 USD, a camel ride around the ruins of Petra, Jordan will cost approximately $5-7 USD an hour.  Here is a breakdown of cost as of June 2014.

Broome Camel Safaris Prices (blue blankets)

Morning Ride

Adults $60
Children (5-15 yrs) $40
Lapsitters (Under 5 yrs on adult’s lap)  $10

Pre-sunset Ride

Adults $40
Children (5-15 yrs)  $25
Lapsitters (Under 5 years on an adult’s lap)  $10

Sunset Ride

Adults $75
Children (aged 5-15 yrs) $60
Lapsitters (Under 5 yrs on adult’s lap) $10

For the latest prices see Broome Camel Safaris website.

Red Sun Camel Prices (red blankets)

Morning Ride

Adults $60
Children (5-15 yrs) $40
Lapsitters (Under 5 yrs on adult’s lap)  $10

Pre-sunset Ride

Adults $40
Children (5-15 yrs)  $40
Lapsitters (Under 5 years on an adult’s lap)  $10

Sunset Ride

Adults $80
Children (aged 5-15 yrs) $60
Lapsitters (Under 5 yrs on adult’s lap) $10

For the latest prices see Red Sun Camel Tours website.

Look for added extras on a Broome Cable Beach camel tour

Look for little extras which may tip your balance towards a certain camel tour.

Free pearl earring and patting a camel before the ride, Blue camels
Pearl earrings for the ladies and petting the camels pre-ride, Blue camels

Broome Camel Safaris (blue blankets)

Each female rider receives a free set of pearl earrings, they even offered a pair of earrings to Layla which I declined.

Pat a camel before the ride.

Look for vouchers at your hotel lobby or the Broome Visitor Information Centre, there was a pamphlet for a free Matso’s beer sample selection with every main menu.

Red Sun Camels (red blankets)

They offer a 2-for-1 deal for any adult on a morning or pre-sunset ride if you hire a car from Broome Broome Car Rentals.

Feed a camel a carrot after the ride.

Keep an eye out on their website or social media channels such as facebook for a number of special offers throughout the year for example; with the launch of their new online booking site next month (July 2014) they are offering a free photo USB stick for sunset ride bookings.




Where to meet for camel rides on Broomes Cable Beach

There are tents set up by each tour operator at the Northern end of Cable Beach, nearby are the caravan of camels lined up one after another, resting on their knees. You can spot your tour operator easily by the colour of the camels blankets.

The Red Sun Camels boast to have the first and closest meeting point on the beach and when walking with two young kids in the sun and on soft white sand, being a tad closer would be a little easier but not a deal breaker.

At the tent is where you confirm your booking and there are also some souvenirs and samples of the photo’s on display (see photo’s section for more info).

If you have any excess gear and shoes you would like to leave behind, you can leave it by the tent. Which was handy as we had just come from the beach and the kids take every opportunity to be shoeless.

TIP – Toilets before you go on a camel ride on Cable Beach

The meeting point on Cable Beach is a fair distance from the main entrance by the car park, where the toilets are located. There are no toilets on the beach, so make sure everyone has gone to the loo before the camel ride.

The pre-sunset camel ride is the most kid friendly option

Broome’s Cable Beach at sunset is absolutely magical and to enjoy it upon a camel would be one of those bucket list ticking off experiences. However with young children (ages 4 and under) it’s best to go with the shortest duration. The  30 minute pre-sunset walk is better suited for the elderly and younger kids. Although there is no reason to miss out on on the 1 hour sunset ride if you think your kids have the attention span and patience to do so. Kids are welcomed on all three of the rides.

 

If you think your kids can manage 1 hour, then go for the stunning sunset ride
If you think your kids can manage 1 hour, then go for the stunning sunset ride, image courtesy of Red Sun Camels

For our kids aged 2 and 4 years old, 30 minutes was just the right amount of time to finish the ride before they got bored and agitated. The novelty started to wear off at the very end of the ride when heading towards the home straight. At $40 per adult, $10 each for our two lap sitters, the 30 minute ride is also a less expensive option.

In June, the pre-sunset ride gathered at 2:45pm after registration, photos and assigning camels to each rider. We walked from the patrolled end of the beach to the tent and it was a solid 15 minute walk with kids.

The ride started at 3:15pm and returned just after 3:45pm. The times vary a little bit, so confirm with the operator prior to booking.

Book early for a Cable Beach camel ride with kids

We rode in early June and was able to book the same day. There seemed to be availability on all the tours. However during peak times (dry season), rides to book out days in advance, particularly the popular sunset rides. So if you know you are going to Broome and plan on taking a camel ride, it’s best to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment. There are two operators to choose from, so if one is fully booked try ringing the other to enquire about availability.

What to pack for a Cable Beach camel ride with kids

For the pre-sunset ride it is still warm, but cooler on the beach. The sun is still strong at 2:45pm. So pack a hat and apply sunscreen before the ride.

The kids are pretty pre-occupied during the 30 minute ride, however take a small water bottle and a couple of snacks (or bribes) just in case.  I would say a 1 hour ride would need a few more supplies.

Don’t forget your camera!

Broome Cable Beach photo souvenirs

Both operators offers a photo service, where a professional photographer takes a photo of you on a standing camel just prior to setting off on the walk along the beach. The cost of a printed photo for both companies starts at $15. The photos are taken at the start, so that there is enough time to print the photos and have them instantly on your return.

You can extend your package to include key rings, digital copy on CD and magnets.

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The very enthusiastic photographer selling camel photos pre-ride

From experience on the Blue Teams photo service it seemed a little gimicky, though not pushy. The photographer provides a short brief about the photo services on offer, holding the cardboard photo folder reminiscent of a hostess on Wheel Of Fortune. She states that in the folder was a Camel Fact Sheet, with “all the information you would ever need to know about camels”.

It’s quite difficult to get a photo of the entire family together and very rare to be on top of a camel, for $15 a photo souvenir is a nice little keepsake. Had I known that the tour operators would be taking photo’s during the ride. I may have passed on this offer.

An issue with the pre-sunset photo is that it’s taken at the start of the ride. The way the the camels are positioned (facing north), the background is of an unexciting sand dune. Another very minor issue is that the photographer asked the kids to pull his hat up from his face, so he is squinting into the sunlight. Despite this, it’s still a lovely way to to record memories.

The printed photo by photographer, $15
The printed photo by photographer, $15

One difference with the Red Sun camel photos is that they offer a mounted panoramic photo of your camel train on two USB sticks for $35. With the usb sticks, passengers receive all photos from their tour; so their individual photo’s, the panoramic photo’s plus bonus camel profile photo’s and over 30 of favourite sunset panoramic from the last thirteen years.

Red Sun Camels sunset photo
Red Sun Camels sunset photo

About the Cable Beach camels health & well being

The Broome camels are well looked after, well fed and well trained. They all appear to be fit and healthy with shiny soft coats. There were no camels with limps, malnourished camels or grumpy bucking camels as I’ve seen in parts of the world.

For the Blue Camels, there was an older camel in the company and was being rested as he has developed a bit of arthritis in his legs.

Though our son said they stunk (there is a slight pong about them) the poop catchers around their bottoms were not overflowing and there weren’t piles of camel poop all over the beach. Nor were there feces and urine stained and stuck on their bodies as seen by dodgy camel operators around the world.

Definately take a camel ride along Cable Beach, kids love it.
Pat a healthy, happy camel before the ride.

Excellent service offer on a Cable Beach camel ride

Take a look around the internet and Tripadvisor and you will see rave reviews (5 stars) from both companies. Whilst I cannot vouch for Red Sun, the service from the Blue Team, Broome Camel Safaris was spot on. Unfortunately, the owner Allison Bird was not on our ride (training a new camel for the team), however we were in the capable hands of Matt, Adam and Josh.

I had thought that maybe these guys would rather be surfing than taking gullible tourists for rides day in and day out. I couldn’t be any further from the truth. If they were bored, they didn’t show it. Ever present, engaged and courteous, nothing was too much of a request.

As we had to get on the camels first, they were kind enough to have a chat and a hold before passing them up to us already seated on the camel. They also held our cameras so not to drop them whilst performing the slightly tricky part of straddling a camel. They also took a few photos with our cameras from various angles during the ride, entertain us with camel facts and were knowledgable in answering any questions fired at them.

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Helpful guides and assistants helping our family onto Kadesh

What do you think about camel rides, yay or nay? Going on a Cable Beach camel ride in Broome? Just been? If you have any tips or comments I would love to hear about them. Please reply below:

Broome Camel Safari (blue blankets) review

7 Cost
9 Booking & Registration process
10 Customer Service
10 Health and Well Being of Camels
9 Extras (e.g. pearl earrings)
7 Photo Service
9 Overall satisfaction
8.7

13 Comments

  • The camels are an iconic part of Broome; we spent a few nights sitting on the back of our 4WD watching them walk by. Watching the sun go down over Cable beach is a memorable moment; thanks for taking me back!

  • Hi Renee, such a useful article as I can imagien people must often wonder if a camel ride with young kids will work out well. Can you believe we were in Broome when I was expecting son number 1 and we didn’t ride on a camel – oh no!!

    We did when we lived in Karachi though, a very different experience to yours!

    • Oh wow I didn’t know you lived in Karachi, is that be the normal mode of transportation there!? Haha 😉

      It could have gone either way with my kids, but luckily it really was an experience of a lifetime. xoxo

    • Hi Jean. I hope you get a chance. They are gentle if not slightly annoyed animals. Ones with very old souls. Thanks for popping by xo

  • I would love to go on a camel ride, and now I know that if I ever get the chance it should be in Broome. The price for me would much more reasonable than some of the attractions in my part of the world so I would be OK with that, especially if I know that the care of the camels is a direct reflection of that price. It would upset me greatly if I saw a animal with feces and urine on it’s coat, and if one of them was injured, well I just wouldn’t be able to handle it.
    It sounds like such a lovely ride, and I’m glad the kids enjoyed it.

    • Thank you Ricki for dropping by. Yes, I wouldn’t have participated if the animals were not treated well. These camels have it easy compared to some of cousins in other parts of the world, still it comes at a higher cost. There is also only 2 companies that operate, so the prices are quite fixed due to the lack of competition. I hope you get a chance to ride some camels in Broome one day. Thanks again for visiting. xo Rene

    • Thank you so much. It’s a tough one with little kids. Memories fade quickly. Hopefully these memories are etched in the recesses of their minds to provide the foundations to travel, explore and wonder. That’s the best I can hope for. Right now both the 2 and 4 year old still remember this camel ride… I hope it sticks!

    • Have a great trip in Oz and I hope you are able to get on the back of camel at sunset in Broome. Thanks so much for popping by xo

  • Sounds like a great ride, but yes – I can see how thirty minutes is a lot for young kids. Mind you, I can also see that an hour would be fine for others, but I’d personally be inclined to start shorter and get longer if things go well.

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