We don’t know his real name, given to him by his handler. It’s probably a Moroccan name, like Mohamed, Youssef or Hamza. We have no way of knowing. And beyond that, maybe camels have names for themselves. Again, no clue.
But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to call him Brian, after the most ridiculous film to ever feature camels.
It’s a ridiculous name for a ridiculous-looking creature. Camels look like mouldy old rugs stuffed with coat-hangers and decorated with comedy dentures and eyelashes that would scare off Lady Gaga.
(No offence, Brian.)
However, their looks are entirely deceptive, as camels are one of the most superbly engineered creatures on the entire planet. They are amazing in ways most people will never be aware of – and in February, they’re going to keep our party of intrepid Sahara trekkers safe as they walk across the most famous desert in the world.
So, let’s celebrate the biological marvel that is Brian – the Tesla Model 3 of the animal kingdom (in the body of a Citroen 2CV) – with a few facts about camels that might blow your mind. We couldn’t run our Saharan tours without them.
(1) Brian Is Perfectly Sandstorm-Proof
Those eyelashes don’t quit – and they’re definitely not cosmetic. Camels have two rows of eyelashes, designed to trap windblown sand and dust – and even if something gets through those defences, a camel has three eyelids (two visible, one transparent) designed to blink away any intruder.
The rest of a camel’s face is similarly well-designed. Those huge nostrils squeeze close every second breath, and can be squeezed completely shut when a storm hits. Brian’s ears are exceptionally furry, for the same reasons his eyelashes are long. Meanwhile, the inside of his mouth, while looking a little nightmarish, is ingeniously protected against abrasive food by long, fleshy papilla – meaning he can eat just about anything.
(2) Brian Is Basically Unstoppable
Camels have unbelievable stamina. They can walk a hundred miles between drinks of water and sources of food. No other creature can do so much without refuelling.
The secret is how they refuel. Camel humps are filled with fat, providing a ready source of calories, like a rucksack full of military-grade rations. That’s food sorted – and the water comes from truly colossal drinking-sessions at each watering hole. Brian is capable of guzzling down 40 gallons of water in a single sitting – enough to walk a hundred miles before taking another drink.
If those incredible facts about camels weren’t enough, they’re also highly resistant to dehydration. Most animals (including humans) stop functioning when their water levels drop 15% below normal. Camels can lose 25% of their body water before they’re impaired – and their whole body is designed to retain water, right down to their urine, which is as thick as syrup. (Sorry for that mental image. Also, you should have seen the facts about camels that we left out.)
Forget the Tesla analogy. Camels are tanks. They’re unstoppable.
(3) Brian Will Keep You Safe
Obviously we take every precaution to keep you safe on our tours, as any good tour operator would – but know that when you’re on a camel, you’re riding one of nature’s greatest personal bodyguards.
If a camel wants to defend itself, it’ll throw a well-aimed kick. This skill isn’t confined to just its back legs. Camels can kick with all four of their feet, accurately and powerfully, covering the whole 360-degree surroundings. They do not have blind spots. Nowhere around them is out of reach.
However, Brian’s most famous defence is a lot less violent, and infinitely more disgusting. If you’re on a camel’s back and a wild animal or persistent hawker comes too close, you’ll feel a rumbling underneath you – and a second later, a blob of revolting pale green mucus will hit them in the face. Camel spit is a wonderfully nasty mixture of saliva, stomach acid and fermenting food, pulled up directly from the stomach. In the words of one redditor: “saurkraut, rotting lawn clippings and vomit.”
Make friends with a camel, and nothing on earth will be daft enough to come near you.
So we say thank you to all the camels out there, tirelessly and dependably swaying their way across the golden sands of Southern Morocco, as they have for the last 1,800 years.
And if you want to see for yourself how marvellous camels are, and maybe find your very own Brian, join us in the desert in 2018. Places are still available at the time of writing – and we’d dearly love to see you there.
(As always, please check our Adventure Calendar to see what’s coming soon.)