MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–It wouldn’t be the Middle East without a camel encounter or two. One year a camel literally ate my lunch when I left it in the shade of the car during a long morning’s work. (He even ate the plastic around the sandwiches.) The local Bedouin care for small camel herds that range throughout the Negev. If you’re near a wadi with a source of vegetation and water, camels are nearby. The version here is the one-humped variety: the dromedary (Camelus dromedarius).
Will and I were walking up a long dirt road around noon when we met the large male camel pictured above. He stared us down, standing almost completely still. We immediately saw why he was so intense: a group of females and young camels was behind it and we were about to walk between him and them. Of course, we had no interest in dying under the hooves of a camel (or whatever they do when they attack), so we moved carefully off the road. After a few minutes he slowly strolled down a wadi and the rest of the group caught up with him, a female at the end keeping her eyes on us until they were out of sight.