You’ve all ridden in planes, trains, and automobiles — most of you anyway. You may have ridden a skateboard, bicycle, motorcycle, canoe, raft, boat, helicopter or paraglider as well. But when it comes to riding non-mechanical things, i.e. animals, there aren’t as many options. In the USA, only a horse, donkey, or pony may to mind — but when you travel around the world, there are other animals out there that are trained to give you a leisurely ride on their backs. Here are some destinations to do so — just try not to be too much of a burden!:
1. Northwestern China, to ride a Two-Humped Camel
Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler/CORBIS
There are plenty of places in the Middle East, Saharan Africa, and other desert destinations where you can mount the single hump of a dromedary camel, but it’s mostly in central Asia where you can ride a two-humped camel. Two-humped bactrian camels are indigenous to the semi-desert steppe ecosystem of Mongolia and Northwest China, where tourists can mount a camel’s back in between the humps — the perfect, natural seat that keeps you snug from front to back.
2. South Africa, to ride an Ostrich
In the town of Oudtshoorn, South Africa, there’s more than one farm that raises ostriches for their meat, eggs, feathers, and leather. And at these farms, tourists are often invited to ride on the back of the big, flightless birds for a wild, but memorable ride around the corral. An ostrich’s wings may not be good for flight, but they sure are handy to hold onto when you ride one.
3. Florida, to ride a Dolphin
Photo: Carl & Ann Purcell/CORBIS
Although a bit overly touristy and a tad controversial, dolphin rides are quite popular at family-oriented sea parks in California and Florida. The appeal is obvious; dolphins are cute, they smile, and they are incredibly friendly. They’re also quite skilled when people ride on their backs to fulfill their human fantasies — just remember to feed them some fish.
4. India, to ride an Elephant
How do you know an elephant is willing to travel? Because it always carries around its trunk. Well, elephants do in fact travel, but they haul stuff on their backs, not in their elongated noses. And if you’re in India, parts of Africa, or Thailand, that elephant’s cargo could be you. Just make sure you’re riding with an outfitter than takes care of their pachyderms; if something has gone awry in the past, remember: an elephant never forgets.
5. Argentina, to ride a Llama
Photo: Kathrin Ziegler/Getty Images
Llamas have been known throughout the mountain regions of South America — Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina — for their value in wool and meat. These wooly, humpless beasts are actually cousins to camels — and therefore have the ability to haul goods on their backs in their family blood. Goods are sometimes replaced with actual people; llamas can provide a nice ride for you — provided they’re not too occupied grazing grass.