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Kind Tourists Are Staying Away From Camel Rides in Egypt

Egypt is a bucket-list destination for many travelers, with numerous must-see sites. But one thing no adventure-seeker has on their itinerary is cruelty to animals. 

Throngs of tourists have contacted PETA to say that their trips were ruined when they witnessed appalling abuse of the camels and horses who are forced to give rides at some of Egypt’s top destinations.

Tourists are discouraged from taking camel rides in Egypt (photo by Nada Habashy)
The Sphinx and Great Pyramids

Many others have posted reviews warning fellow travelers to steer clear of ride vendors.

Their comments include the following: 

  • “I travel all over the world and have witnessed animal abuse, but what I saw at the pyramids is by far the worst. If you are planning to go first, read up on this. I wish I had done so before. The horses and camels work in deplorable conditions in the heat, no water, no rest, beaten.” 
  • “Injured camels, forced to work without proper hydration. Not impressed. We brought this to their attention, and the staff ignored us.” 
  • “Very bad animal welfare on the camels and horses underneath the blankets; they are walking skeletons. Do not ride these poor animals. It is animal abuse.” 
  • “These poor horses and camels are beat for any reason.” 
  • “We didn’t ride any camels or horses as after seeing the way they treat them, we didn’t want to contribute to the abuse. The poor animals are worked into the ground, and it’s heartbreaking to see.”

PETA Asia has conducted multiple undercover investigations of operations offering animal rides at Egypt’s most popular stops—including Luxor, Saqqara, and the pyramids of Giza—and has documented pervasive neglect and abuse at every one. 

In 2019, eyewitness footage taken at Luxor, Saqqara, and the pyramids of Giza showed horses and camels being forced to haul visitors on their backs or in heavy carriages through choking dust and blistering heat with no shade, food, water, or rest.

When horses collapsed, they were viciously beaten and whipped until they got back up. They suffered from gaping, festering wounds, which were often hidden with saddles or blankets or otherwise disguised.

Camel grooming (photo courtesy of PETA)
Camel grooming (photo courtesy of PETA)

Most of the camels had been purchased from the Birqash Camel Market, where investigators documented that sellers kept heavy wooden rods in their hands and frequently beat the animals.

Camels had blood pouring from their faces and noses and flies swarming their wounds.

Eyewitnesses learned that once the animals’ bodies were worn out from the hard labor, lack of veterinary care, and beatings, they’d be taken back to the market and slaughtered. 

After PETA Asia released the findings, nearly 500,000 compassionate travelers wrote to Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and a PETA representative met with government officials to urge authorities to ban animal rides at these sites.

Officials announced plans to do so and to introduce electric cars and buses, as PETA Asia had recommended.

Additionally, three camel traders were arrested, and the governor of Giza promised to install surveillance cameras, inform traders about proper animal care, and place a veterinary unit in the market to care for sick animals. But little has changed.

Some electric vehicles are now used at Giza—but only for VIPs—and two subsequent PETA Asia investigations revealed that horrific animal abuse is still widespread. 

Investigative footage shows starving, dehydrated horses scavenging in dumpsters for any sustenance they can find. (Eating trash can lead to painful and often deadly colic.)

Horses had open, bloody wounds and severe, untreated injuries—including broken legs—but they were still forced to haul tourists. If they fell or faltered, they were whipped. 

At the Birqash market, camels’ legs were tied together, forcing them to walk on their knees. The animals screamed as they were beaten.

Many had blood-streaked faces. Eyewitnesses filmed one camel being tied to the back of a truck and dragged as the animal cried out.

PETA Asia provided government officials with additional evidence of immense and widespread cruelty, but they refused to act.

But major travel companies did take action. Many—including Scott Dunn, TCS World Travel, Wilderness Travel, Travel Leaders Group, Tauck, Abercrombie & Kent USA, Grand Circle Corporation, and Artisans of Leisure—agreed not to promote or sell tickets for exploitative animal rides at the pyramids of Giza, and the list is growing.

Tourists hold the power to end these animals’ suffering and to force vendors and governments to change. When you book a trip to Egypt, ask your tour company and hotel if they promote animal rides. If they do, explain why they should stop doing so.

Never ride an animal or participate in animal encounters, no matter where in the world you vacation—including in the United States. Experiences that are fun-filled, exciting, and cruelty-free can await you wherever you go.

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