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The Camel Market in Egypt

Birquash Camels

The Camel Market in Egypt

This client inspired blog tells us of their experience of visiting the Birqash camel market in Egypt.

Birquash Camel market

Branded camels showing owners name

During our recent trip to Egypt, we had the best adventure ever!
We spent some time at the Birqash Camel Market called Souq al Gamaal by the locals, just outside of Giza about 40 minutes’ drive from downtown Cairo and there in a delicious atmosphere of seeming chaos were hundreds of camels for sale.

Birqash Camel Market

Camels as far as the eye can see

Some of them were hobbled and I guess these were the ones who had tried to run off previously but most were roaming around freely. It was great!
Each camel has Arabic writing on its side and we found out this was the name of the owner of the camel so that they could tell who owned what in the ever changing melee.

Through the help of our guide, Mohammad, we priced several (quite expensive as it turns out with prices starting from a minimum of the equivalent of 200 euros) and I tried to trade for my husband, but the sellers weren’t interested when they found out he had no experience in herding camels. However the real bargaining between traders is hard and furious as the best prices are negotiated right in front of you. We got a real sense that just as the monuments and temples we had seen reflect an ancient civilisation, here was traditional centuries old custom still taking place right before our eyes.

Buying a camel

Can I exchange this camel for my husband?

Most of the animals are sold for meat and have been herded up the Nile valley all the way from Sudan and Somalia on the famous 40 Day Road. This ancient caravan route starts in Sudan and ends in Birqash. The camels are herded through Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia to southern Egypt and this is a journey of over 700 miles and takes about three months on the road. 
We had tea with some of the sellers and took lots of photos. One of the elders wanted copies of the photos so our guide addressed an envelope in English and Arabic for us to use to send them. When we posted the photos, the local postman said “Really?” Perhaps the first time a letter has been sent to “The Camel Market, Cairo, Egypt” from our rural village in Ireland! Hope it gets there.

After the Birqash market we stopped at a roadside stand and sampled camel heart and liver sautéed with chillies, onion and bell pepper tucked inside flatbread, tasty although maybe not for the fainthearted and in fact that goes for the whole market experience!!! If you can see beyond the harsh realities of the conditions and treatment of the camels you do get a glimpse of real African life here.

Final tip is for the ladies – the Birqash market is all male traders so dress modestly.

Holly Macro – September 2012

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What our clients have to say

It’s now been a week since we left the wonderful Dahabiya Dream and it’s fantastic crew. Alex and I are still talking about our experience, I think it will stay with us for a while.
We really want to express our gratitude to you and all the team that made such a fabulous trip possible. We felt massively privileged to sail the Nile on such a unique boat.
The itinerary was so well thought out, everyday our knowledge and expectations built until the big reveals of Karnak and Luxor temples. Also, we really appreciated arriving at the sights at the least busy times of day to allow us to truly experience the magnificence of the temples.
The pace of life on board was so relaxed, we loved the ‘hands up’ nature of who wanted to partake in certain tours. Such a refreshing way to enjoy a trip rather than having everything regimented.
The food on board was exceptional, Alex couldn’t help himself and had seconds at most meals. The drinks service too was amazing, how lovely to be greeted everytime we arrived home with a delicious drink and a cold towel.
Ahmed, our guide for the week was so entertaining and clearly passionate about his subject. His enthusiasm was infectious, so much so that Alex and I have travelled down from near Manchester to visit both the Egyptian exhibits at the British Museum and the Tutankhamun display at the Saatchi Gallery.
We would like to extend a special thank you to Mahmood and all the team on board. We felt like a little family for a week. We were so well cared for. Everyone was so friendly and kind and we felt so at home. Plus there was a lot of laughter.
We have wanted to visit Egypt for a long time and choosing you and the team exceeded all our expectations and we can not wait to come again!
We have travelled a lot and we can genuinely say that this has been one of the best weeks we have ever had in our lives - we will definitely be booking again!
We have have taken over a thousand photos and will send you some of the Dream. Thank you again.
Elisabeth & Alex
Travel date Nov 2019

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