CAMEL SAFARIS AND SHALATEEN CAMEL MARKET
To book a safari or a trip to Shalateen please email Steven@marsaalam.com or via WhatsApp on +201284332337
If you wish to go on a camel safari please contact Steven by email at email@example.com. He will let you know what trips are currently available and the prices.
They are a surprisingly peaceful, interesting and efficient way to explore the desert hinterland with its’ mountainous scenery, beautiful sunsets, starlit nights and unique wildlife as well discover more about the local bedouin culture.
For those of you who are a little nervous, you might want to try a brief ride on a camel on your hotel beach first – this is possible at many resorts including (at the time of writing) the four star Al Nada Resort, 20km south of the airport.
Another alternative for the more nervous available on some camel safaris such as that in the Wadi El Gemal National Park is the option of a camel-pulled wagon which will take you safely through the wadis and sand dunes stopping off so you can see the wildlife or so that you can taste the local food such as bread baked on a fire in the sand or camel cheese.
WADI EL GEMAL NATIONAL PARK
Wadi El Gemal actually means valley of the camels and is an excellent safari destination for those who prefer to mount their own specially trained and tourist friendly camel, under the observation of a skilled camel herder (the gamaal in Arabic) who will keep the animal on a lead for safety.
The park is surprisingly rich in wildlife and vegetation and also historic sites dating back to before the Roman era. Steven (contact details given above) can arrange for you to be picked up at your hotel and taken by taxi to the National Park from where the bedouin employees of the park will meet you, show you a documentary about the unique characteristics of the local population and wildlife and then escort you on your camel safari. At the end of the day you will be picked up by taxi to take you back to your hotel.
CAMEL RIDING LESSONS
If you wish to learn to ride a camel unaided – this takes some time – and you will need a helmet and an experienced patient teacher – contact Steven at firstname.lastname@example.org or by WhatsApp on +201284332337 who may be able to arrange this for you. It’s a great way to learn about the Bedouin way of life !
EXCURSION TO SHALATEEN CAMEL MARKET
If you want to do something few tourists do, take a trip by taxi down to the small town of Shalateen ( population 3,000 ) to see the camel market. It lies some 232 km or 144 miles south of Marsa Alam near the border with Sudan. Steven’s limousine/taxi company can also arrange this with a modern vehicle, knowledgeable driver and surprisingly affordable prices. Email email@example.com contact Steven via WhattsApp on +201284332337.
It is here that Sudanese herders, usually armed with a long traditional knife and a whip, bring their camels to sell to Egyptian traders. Some are bought for the tourism industry and some for meat. However it may not be suitable for everyone as a few traders sometimes have reportedly resorted to beating camels in order to get them into the lorries for transportation north to the Birqash camel market outside Cairo.
If you wish to buy a camel, the average price is typically around 7,000 Egyptian pounds as of early 2013. The Shalateen camel market is open daily but is usually busiest on Thursdays and quietest, though still open, on Fridays.
The local area is interesting as it remained outside Egyptian government control prior to 1992 and while the infrastructure has been recently modernized, much of the local way of life remains unchanged and is fascinating to observe.
The Government has offered free electricity and water to try and encourage the local Bedouin to settle but many continue to make their living herding goats and sheep or trading in camels.
You should be able to spot the Rashaida tribesmen as they wear lavendar galibayas and the Rashaida women dark red dresses. They are descendants of a tribal group which emigrated to Egypt from the Arabian peninsula around 200 years ago. You will also probably see Bishari (the men often wearing large cotton turbans) and Ababda bedouin who have been indigenous to the Eastern Desert area of Egypt for centuries.
Most of the buildings and architecture in the town itself are however disappointingly modern. It’s divided into two sections – government and commercial buildings to the north and a shanty town of painted plywood and wooden plank houses to the south surrounding the souk.
There are only a few limited facilities but there is at least a bank, a police station, a post office, a simple but popular restaurant, Basmit El Ganoub, serving grilled meat or chicken and a hotel called (not joking) Baghout (meaning “The flea.”) It seemed quite clean but I wouldn’t recommend staying in Shalateen overnight.
WADI EL GEMAL OR SHEIK MALIK DESERT SAFARI
Prices start from just 50 euros per person including all transfers, dinner, amusements, jeep and the quad or camel ride. To book or for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Steven via WhatsApp on +20 1284332337.
*The main entrance to Wadi El Gemal is situated 45km south of Marsa Alam town while Sheikh Malik is located around 75km north and is therefore more suited to hotels in the El Quseir region. Please let Steven know if you have a preference.
SOME FUN CAMEL FACTS
The name camel comes from the arabic gamal.
It’s hump stores fat not water and this allows it to store less fat elsewhere which in turn keeps it cooler.
Unlike humans their body temperature is naturally lower (34C) at night than in the day (41C).
A large camel can drink up to 200 litres of water within three minutes – if you only had cans of perrier that would be 600 at more than 3 cans a second !
However they can get much of the moisture they need from green plants thereby reducing the need to drink.
They can east almost anything, even thorny twigs, without damaging their mouths.
During a sandstorm camels are able to close their nostrils to prevent damage from wind blown sand.
When feeling threatened they often spit – don’t get in the way !
Camel feces is very dry so that the animal minimizes water loss but this also makes it easy to use as a fuel with minimal drying time needed.
They have large flat feet to prevent them sinking into the sand.
When a camel exhales, the water vapor is retained in its’ nostrils and then reabsorbed enabling it to remain relatively hydrated even in the most arid and hot conditions.
The average life expectancy of a camel is about 45 years.
They can run at speeds of up to 65km/h (45mph) so don’t try to race one !