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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™
Oasis Camel Dairy
The Oasis Camel Dairy is a 34 acre farm located at 26757 Old Julian Hwy in Ramona. You first take the 5 south, then the 78 east and pass through the town of Ramona. The dairy is open once each month for public tours and they have festivals twice each year where visitors can feed the camels. The summer festival is a watermelon festival and the fall festival which we went to is a pomegranate festival. The cost was $15 for adults and $10 for kids. The camel rides were $10 for adults and $5 for kids. The cost for admission is lower during their monthly tours. Here is how it works.
We were asked to arrive before 1 pm. The owners, a sweet couple who also live there, help direct traffic and get all of the cars loaded in. Then all of the visitors were seated on risers in the couple’s driveway. Gil, the husband gave us an overview of the day and we learned that they travel to various county fairs during the summer with the camels and birds. We were then treated to a delightful bird show. Nancy, Gil’s wife, has been working with birds for decades and her experience shows. She has a wonderful rapport with both the birds and the audience. The birds did some very funny tricks. My son Logan in particular could not stop laughing at the birds. She had the birds singing songs, pretending to be cats and dogs, bowing and chasing after treats. Nancy has been on the tonight show with Jay Leno and you can just tell that she has spent countless hours perfecting the show. Nancy also described how she was hired to bring one of the camels to an event and all of the movies and TV shows that the birds have worked on.
Once we were all done with the birds, Nancy and her husband Gil asked us to take a 15 minute breather. They had a few snacks and products for sale. They make their own soap and lip balm with the camel’s milk. They also have camel’s milk chocolate for sale, made in Dubai, for $10. We got cups of hot chocolate for $1 and walked around the farm. We loved seeing the baby goats, turkeys, chickens, an african crane, parrots, a horse, their two sweet dogs and of course the camels! We were then asked to sit back down by Gil. He first told us about the benefits of camel’s milk including that it contains insulin, it has lots of vitamin C, and there is evidence that it can relieve the symptoms of crohn’s disease. They do not have a FDA approval to sell the milk in California but they are navigating their way through the process. Meanwhile, they have gotten attention in the media and have been featured on Huell Howser’s California Gold, Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and Jobs that Bite on National Geographic Wild.
Next, he introduced their two dogs and showed how one was a herder and could get their chickens to come in the circle area where the audience was sitting. Then Gil presented Samson, a beautiful camel that was born a few years ago at the dairy. He told us all kinds of facts about camels including that they have no real predators in the wild so they sleep laying down. He talked about their thick pads on their legs and how camels can go for two weeks with no food or water.
Then it was time to feed the camels! They had a table set up with mounds of cut up pomegranates, all of which came from Nancy’s sister. There were about 150 people at the festival and we could take as many pomegranates as we wanted. The camels were very friendly and ate right out of our hands. It was such a kick seeing them eat everything. The staff had kindly put out buckets of water for us to rinse our hands after we finished feeding. Each of us went back a few times to get more pomegranates. We then got in line for camel rides which was an extra fee but very fun. My kids went together on one camel and I rode alone on another. The weight limit for the camels is 200 pounds so I didn’t see any adult men riding. During the ride, Nancy led the camel I was on to a pile of hay for the camel to eat for a while. She told me about the process of getting them seen by a vet and how the camels like to be around people.
We had a great time at the dairy and couldn’t believe how much we got to see and do while we were there. It definitely isn’t close or cheap, but it was a memorable experience, especially for animal lovers like us!
After the dairy we drove to Julian, about 20-30 minutes away. Julian is now known as a great place for u-pick apples in September but it was originally a gold mining town in the 19th century. We enjoyed walking around the cute Main St. area and sampling apple pie from both the Julian Cafe as well as the Julian Pie Company. The next morning we ate a delicious breakfast at Julian Cafe including apple-walnut-oatmeal pancakes. The cafe had a homey atmosphere with terrific service. They are open for all three meals and have a takeout window we used the night before for their famous apple pies.
There are two gold mines that are open for visitors in Julian, one with a train, and one gem mining site which is located in nearby Wynola. We wanted to visit the museum with Julian artifacts but it was closed the day we were in town. We did check out the old Julian jail which has the town’s first indoor toilet. Another family activity we wanted to try but ran out of time for was renting a motorboat at nearby Lake Cuyamaca. The cost is $40 or only $30 after 1 pm. It is on our to-do list for when we return.
We had a great time in Ramona and in Julian and encourage all of you to check out these towns soon with your families when planning your next getaway. It’s a nice change of pace from the amusement parks!