The Omdurman Camel Market

Khartoum Travel Blog

 › entry 60 of 81 › view all entries
Tea at the camel market
  

Desert men wore white turbans, brown or white cotton tunics (galabeyas), and brandished silver swords at their sides. Weathered feet and faces reflected the rugged wretched lives they led on the desert. They mixed and mingled with other nomads and with local dealers or brokers at the Omdurman camel market, not far outside Khartoum on the edge of desert. One band offered chai. An unveiled black woman poured us each a glass from a copper kettle that brewed over a small wood fire. Men sat cross-legged with their backs against a lean-to made of burlap bags. We sipped their tea and regretted that none of the clan spoke English.

 

Trade included camels, cattle, donkeys, horses, goats, grass feed, and precious firewood.

Richard test-drives a camel
To prevent their wandering, camels had a rope tied around a front leg - holding it folded upward from the knee. Some were branded with white paint while others wielded atrocious scars seared into their hind quarters, head, or neck.  A camel was said to cost around 400 Sudanese Pounds and could carry as much as 900 pounds. The further north they were taken, the more their value increased. Richard enjoyed a 'test drive' on one but when the owner demanded money, the rest of us declined the offer.

 

As we rode a horse-drawn cart hauling feed toward the city, Scott and I imagined organizing a future month-long expedition to Egypt by camel. The group would consist of three or four couples and include members knowledgeable in celestial navigation, regional archaeology, and medicine. An old man or young boy would tend the camels and do the cooking. Somewhere in the Nubian Desert we would join a Bedouin caravan for several days - traveling in the cool calm of night with stars our map. During the scorching days, we would camp in white canvas tents on colorful Persian carpets. We would sell the beasts up in Cairo for a small profit …

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Tea at the camel market
Tea at the camel market
Richard test-drives a camel
Richard test-drives a camel
Camel control
Camel control
Nomads
Nomads
Camels
Camels
Desert men
Desert men
The ride back to town
The ride back to town
Khartoum
photo by: alexchan