You don’t have visit Arabia to go trekking on a camel. You can spend two days on a camel-assisted trek in Monahans Sandhills State Park in Texas. With nearly 4000 acres of sand dunes to trek over, you’ll feel like Lawrence of Arabia on his way to Acabar.
The sand field extends beyond the park 200 miles south of Monahans, Texas. These dunes are rare in the United States in that there is little reinforcement with natural vegetation, other than a few shinoak stands scattered here and there. This makes it an active, moving dune carved by the wind and changing shape constantly – some of the hills reaching 70 feet in height. There is shallow water and occasionally small ponds appear in low-lying valleys. At dusk, you could sit quietly by the water’s edge and watch as an odd assortment of wildlife comes for a drink. Deer, fox, wild hogs, cottontails and even a bobcat may slowly make their way to the pond.
The camel hikes are organized by Texas Camel Corps. One three-day camel Trek takes you through the Big Bend area of West Texas, the same route as the Hartz and Echols expeditions nearly 150 years ago with the U.S. Camel Corps. At that time the military was looking for possible fort locations to protect the border with Mexico, but today the trek is a learning experience, based on ecology and the love of the natural beauty of this part of the big state.
For the most part, the camels are used to hold the gear. You need to be in good physical shape for this trek, even though the terrain isn’t difficult. The organizers expect you to hike up to 10 miles a day. You’ll spend part of the time on private land, hiking over ranch roads, old cattle trails, creeks and though mountain passes.
In the Monahans Sandhills State Park, you’ll be expected to hike up to five miles a day as it takes you through the dunes. These are 2-day treks. Camping is rough on the dunes, but the experience makes it worth it. You’ll be sleeping in small portable tents or you can choose to sleep out on the sand under the stars.
Texas Camel Corps grew out of a need to educate people on the role camels played in history and in a desert environment as friendly animals and beasts of burden. You’ll learn how to work with your camel, loading and unloading your gear and you’ll play an active role in it’s care while on the trek.
Fees range from $750 for the dunes trek in Monohans Sandhills State Park to $1350 per person for the Big Bend trek. Both treks have a 3-person minimum.
Monohans Sandhills State Park is just off Interstate highway 20, an easy 45 minute drive from Midland International Airport.
Visit Texas Camel Corps.com for more information or call (254-675-hump)