Aussie tourist cops $100k medical bill after falling from camel

NSW woman Carol Hucker's holiday turned to hell after a fall in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

The trip of a lifetime ended in disaster for one Aussie tourist after a mishap involving a camel left her with a $100,000 medical bill. Carol Hucker, 63, was just six days into a month-long world trip with her niece Olivia when she toppled off the top of a camel in the Sahara Desert and fell on her shoulder.

The NSW suffered six broken ribs, a punctured lung, a shattered collarbone as well as a fractured left wrist in the horror fall. Carol tells how she experienced “the worst pain” of her life during the ordeal.

“I was completely focused on the pain I was in,” she told Yahoo News Australia. She spent 11 days in a Moroccan hospital before being repatriated back to Australia for surgery and during this time, medical bills mounted to an eye-watering $96,840.

Left: Bruising caused by a broken collar bone. Right: Tourists Olivia and Carol posing in the Sahara Desert during their holiday
Tourist Carol (right) suffered extensive injuries after falling off the camel on holiday in Morocco. Source: Supplied

Remarkably, the forward-thinking Aussie bought an insurance policy for the trip $812 with 1Cover who footed nearly all of the bill.

Carol is now warning fellow travellers not to skimp on cover. “Be responsible and take it,” she said. “You can’t expect what you’ll need it for. One minute you could just be having this normal day and taking pictures and just doing everything like normal tourists do. You never know what could happen.”

Dream trip years in the making

Carol recalled that the trip was originally a gift to niece Olivia for her 21st birthday. But after a number of delays and Covid forcing the pair to reschedule their trip, they finally embarked on their adventure in November last year.

Their epic itinerary would have seen them stop in Morocco, Paris, New York and Iceland.

Everything was going ‘great’ until just six days into the trip. Carol, who had ridden camels twice before, said they were just 20 minutes into their journey to a campsite when her guide asked if she’d prefer to travel by car - to which she said “yes”.

“Then for some reason he started pulling at my leg and I started to lose my balance and I just fell off,’ she said.

Olivia (left) and Carol (right) enjoying the camel ride moments before it all went wrong. Source: Supplied
Olivia (left) and Carol (right) enjoying the camel ride moments before it all went wrong. Source: Supplied

According to Olivia, Carol was completely unresponsive for several minutes after the fall. When she came to, she was nauseous and struggled to sit up.

“My niece was screaming out for help, saying we need medical help, but there was no reception. We were in the middle of the Sahara Desert. There's nothing there. There's no phone.”

With no reception, the group were unable to call for help so Carol was transported by jeep to the nearest camp despite needing urgent medical attention. Carol described the pain as “Excruciating”.

The next morning she was taken to a country hospital where the extent of her injuries was realised and she was transported by ambulance to Casablanca, eight hours away.

Rocky recovery for Carol

After arriving in Casablanca, Carol was taken to intensive care where she spent two days being monitored for internal bleeding. It was advised Carol would need surgery on her collarbone, which insurer 1Cover advised her to do back in Australia.

After 11 days in hospital, Carol was repatriated home via a commercial flight with two nurse escorts in business class, which she says went ‘really smoothly.’ Meanwhile, Olivia carried on with their scheduled trip without Carol.

“It was a huge relief to get home,” she said. Carol’s surgery was a success and after a few months, her lungs were healed too. All up, her medical expenses reached a whopping $96,840.

“I usually always take travel insurance because I nominate other conditions that I need covered. But that condition was fine, falling off a camel wasn't. I don’t know where I would have been if I hadn’t been able to access travel insurance.”

Warning to travellers: 'You can't expect the unexpected'

“Stories like Carol’s affirm that you simply can’t expect the unexpected. Should your holidays hit a hump, you can count on travel insurance to get you back on track,” Natalie Smith, of 1Cover Travel Insurance, said.

“Due to the severity of Carol’s injuries, she required round-the-clock care during her flight back home and the associated costs were substantial. Moreover, the medical expenses incurred overseas far exceeded what the average Australian could afford without travel insurance."

She warns that when travelling in remote areas tourists should always do their homework.

“Research your destination and which tour company you choose to go with. Most people aren’t aware of the risks of travelling in geographically isolated locations. If you are in danger or injure yourself, you may not have access to emergency services.”

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.