If you think the bad tempered camels that hang out by the pyramids of Giza are formidable you should meet their handlers.
A Bactrian camel has two humps
The fact we were on an organized tour and the handlers had been paid up front made little difference to their technique of trying to get more money out of us. One of them squinted at me, confused by my Canadian bumbag, which was a gift from Canada strangely enough.
"Mr. Canada, Mr. Canada," he said, holding out a grubby palm.
"Nope," I said.
I nodded sadly as the camel's neck shot up and I was high in the air on the neck of the grunting beast.
The handler shot me a predatory grin through shattered teeth. "Marks and Spencer. Tally Ho," he chuckled.
"Yes. We all say Tally Ho all the time in England."
Still I felt more like the hunted than the hunter as he whipped the camel's backside and we jerked off towards a particularly empty stretch of desert. I had heard the tales. If the tip wasn't big enough the camel received the mother of all whips to the ass and I'd end up marooned in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.
To some extent I can relate to the Tripadvisor review written by Barbara from Santa Cruz in 2006.
"Unfortunately for me, my camel ride amongst the Pyramids was a horribly scary experience. Scary being that the handler of my camel was an 8 year old boy who hassled me the whole time about me giving him my watch, my shoes, etc. Then he took me away from the group and wouldn't take me back to them unless I gave him money," she wrote.
Camels can be awkward as well as their handlers but then, so too might you, if you spent most of the day with people like Barbara from California on your back.
The camel is an even-toed ungulate with distinctive fatty deposits known as "humps" on its back.
You are more likely to encounter a dromedary, which is a one humped beast found in Africa and Arabia than a Bactrian Camel which is a more shaggy animal found in central Asia which has two humps.
There are also New World camels in South America but these are more commonly known as Llamas.
Although camels can be disagreeable and have terrible halitosis, these are definitely the chaps you want with you if you find yourself making a long trip across the Sahara.
Camels do not water in their humps as was once commonly believed. The humps are actually reservoirs of fatty tissue: the concentration of body fat in their humps minimizes the insulating effect fat would have if distributed over the rest of their bodies, helping camels survive in hot climates.
Useless Fact About Camels
The male dromedary camel has an organ on its neck called a dulla, which is a large, inflatable sac he extrudes from his mouth when he's in rut to assert dominance and attract females. It resembles a long, swollen, pink tongue hanging out of the side of its mouth. All of which sounds delightful.
What Not to Say to A Camel
Aim not to tell crude jokes about his toes.