Camel and Horse Rides Scams

A tourist place, 5 camels, their keeper and driver and a tourist are in the saddle. Around them there is other people.

These scams are those horseback or camel rides and tours in which drivers will prevent you from dismounting until you pay much more than the agreed fare.

Mounted ride scams occur in those tourist areas outside the cities where a lot of walking is required to visit or cross them.

These scammers rarely target groups of more than two adults.

1) How it works

In some countries it is possible to rent mounts, like horses, camels, etc., with a driver/guide, to relieve the fatigue or enjoy the experience of a particular route or path.

Some of the independent drivers/keepers may even intercept you and insistently offer you the ride.

You will certainly bargain for the ride before getting on, as in many countries it is a common custom.

The point is, once on the saddle, a small number of these drivers may try to extort extras above the agreed fare.

Sometimes they will say that there was a misunderstanding during the bargaining phase, others won’t care and just start demanding more money.

You will be on the move and high (camels go between 1.80 and 2m at the withers) and scammers will try to use the situation to their advantage.
They may decide to take you for a walk or wherever they want until you give up to their blackmailing or jump off the saddle.

Even after you are able to get down and pay the fare, scammers may continue following you for more money.

Three tourists riding two camels are guided through the desert by the camel keeper.
A camel driver with his customers. (Credit - Rolando Brando via Pexels)

2) What you risk

Much depends on where are you and how you behave once you understand the situation.

You could lose the agreed fare, perhaps with a little extra, and having an unpleasant experience.
Scammers might try to intimidate you but will unlikely physically attack you. Almost all of them will just chase and annoy you for a while.

On the other hand, you may also end up spending a fortune passing your bills to the scammers or their accomplices in the hope that they will let you get off the saddle.

Also, sometimes it could be critical where they leave you since it could be difficult if not risky to move on foot in certain areas.

3) How to avoid it

Pay particular attention to the areas reported for this scam.

Remember, the more the drivers insist and pressure you to accept the ride, the higher the chances of it being a scam. They may even start with a Friendly Face routine to hook you up first.

Always do your research about reasonable prices for this type of service, or at least don’t accept the first offer you will receive.
If these types of tours are a local specialty, you may be able to find an agency or tour operator to arrange them. Even if you choose this solution, watch out for fraud attempts.

Try to bargain down to the reasonable price. Don’t pull too hard, the drivers are mostly honest people who live on it.

Obviously, don’t pay in advance.

The important thing is to make the price per person clear. If the moment you get on the driver starts asking for more, it’s a scam.

At this point you will have three choices.

I) try jumping off the mount. However, I would not recommend it as you risk hurting yourself.

II) pay what they ask you while you are still in the saddle. Probably the worst of the three options. You are trusting someone who has already scammed you.

III) agree to their requests but demand to pay only after dismounting. It will require being or acting a bit assertive, but this is your best solution. Once you get off, you can decide if and how much you will give them.

Anyway, do not expect them to drop the bone easily.

Get away and do not allow drivers/scammers or their accomplices to get too close or you risk getting pickpocketed.

Depending on which country you are in and the severity of the experience, you may want to report to law enforcement. You would be doing a favour to local tourism.

a view of the beach in karachi, pakistan with two camel drivers.
Beach, Karachi, Pakistan. (Credit - Susanne Husemann via Pixabay)

4) Extras And Thoughts

In this article we mainly talk about those individuals or groups of independent riders and horse keepers who offer themselves as guides and/or drivers. As always and already mentioned, we specify that not all of them are scammers. On the contrary, the majority are honest people who do their jobs.

Just keep calm, use common sense and pay attention for any red flags.

For this scam, the Karachi police would appear to have taken action against three horse keepers along the Sea View in 2022.

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