Camel Race 2017 at Wadi Zalaga (South Sinai) between Muzeina and Tarrabin

12 Januar 2017 Kein Kommentar Autor: Jürgen (jdo)

If I had to describe the most important camel race in the South Sinai with two words it would be organized madness. That is not a normal race. What happens is that you are basically in the race. Well in a car but still in the middle of the race. This was the second time I was at Wadi Zalaga and I enjoyed it very much again. The difference this year was that I managed to be in the back of a pickup car. That’s better for taking pictures. On the pickup there was also the brother of one of the jockeys who came 4th – well done! I think I never swallowed so much dust in my life being in the back of that car. Only after a good cleaning session of the cameras I dared to open them and take the memory cards out.

Diesen Artikel gibt es hier auch auf Deutsch! (in case you find a mistake – English is not my native language)

The camel race is between the Bedouin tribes Muzeina and Tarrabin. It is the most important camel race in the Sinai and is held every year at the 10th of January. At the start you can feel how important this race is. There is a tense atmosphere and the jockeys get a few last tips. Well the jockeys are children in between 7 and 14 I guess. The rider has to be lightweight. The kids train their camels for several month just for this race.

Adventure in the desert

Adventure in the desert

We started 9 am

After a rich breakfast we started our trip one day before the camel race. You travel from Dahab to Wadi Zalaga about 3.5 hours. Basically you head towards St. Catherine’s monestary and turn right into the desert at some point.

Wadi Zalaga: marked with a fine red line

Wadi Zalaga: marked with a fine red line

Two thirds of the way are actually road. But after that prepare for a bumpy ride. The bums were hurting so we needed a break or two. But that’s fine as the desert spoils you with stunning views and I could spend hours there to take pictures. I climbed on top of a mountain to take this panorama.

I'm not getting tired of the desert

I’m not getting tired of the desert

Close to the start of the camel race you search for a wind protected area and make camp. We were roughly 40 people in our camp. A few pictures say more than many words.

Our Camp (left)

Our Camp (left)

Camp at night

Camp at night

Playing with light

Playing with light

Bedouin band

Bedouin band

Desert

Desert

Unfortunately I could not take any good pictures of the stars or do some star trails. We had a clear view at polaris but it was almost full moon. Long story short it was way too bright.

Startrails shot like this was not possible - moon too bright

Startrails shot like this was not possible – moon too bright

The following day: Camel Race

After we got up we were spoiled with a stunning sunrise.

Sunrise before the camel race

Sunrise before the camel race

The start of the camel race was to the right hand side just around the corner. But first we had to defrost the windscreens. It was sub zero during the night. Luckily we were well prepared for that.

Camel Race - cold

Camel Race – cold

At night the desert looked really empty. But the starting area was full with people. A few hundred I would guess. You could sense the adrenaline. For an outsider it all seemed very unorganised. Suddenly the race was started and a lot of people run to their cars and … basically somebody started the race an we were off as well … The little guy with the blue hood was the brother of one of the guys on our pickup.

Moments before the start

Moments before the start

As soon as the camels and cars are off you are basically covered in dust. It stays like this the next 27 kilometres. That is the length of the race and you read that right: 27 kilometres!

Start

Dust, dust and more dust

Dust, dust and more dust

The battle for the best spots

The battle for the best spots

Every metre counts

Every metre counts

As I said before - you are basically inside the race

As I said before – you are basically inside the race

Best spot ... I was in one of them as well

Best spot … I was in one of them as well

I was on the pickup with his brother!

I was on the pickup with his brother!

Yalla!

Yalla!

A few kilometres into the race

A few kilometres into the race

The battle for 4th

The battle for 4th

I need to take a picture from last year to show you how this looks from an elevated level. With the pickup we couldn’t go up there. With the 4x4s you can.

Top view (photo from 2016)

Top view (photo from 2016)

After 2 kilometre they’ve done it. The finishing line is near. I didn’t manage to get the winner but here are a few of the runner ups.

Finish

Finish

Almost there

Almost there

Giving up is not an option

Giving up is not an option

Full action

Full action

Finished

After the race you realise how exhausted and dusty camel and rider are. The camels are full on in racing mode. They have to be caught and calmed down after passing the finishing line.

Exhausted camel and dusty rider

Exhausted camel and dusty rider

Exhausted camel in the finishing area

Exhausted camel in the finishing area

The proud winner

The winner is from the Tarrabin tribe and I gues he was not much older than 7.  He had to stand on a table that everybody could see him.

This little man ist the biggest right now

This little man ist the biggest right now

... but had to stand on a table :)

… but had to stand on a table 🙂

I was amazed by his look. That is how a winner looks like.

The eyes of a winner

The eyes of a winner

Of course he was very proud.

A proud winner

A proud winner

Somebody explained to us that he got a very precious book from St. Catherine’s. But to be honest I didn’t get the full story around this. Long story short: book -> valuable.

The winner got a precious book

The winner got a precious book

5th race for Biscuit

Biscuit is Claire’s dog and he is a camel race veteran. The little spaniel is very cute and enjoys Wadi Zalaga as well.

Biscuit

Biscuit

Biscuit again - doing his own race ... he won :)

Biscuit again – doing his own race … he won 🙂

The kids in the next pictures are some of the jockey. Even after 27 bumpy kilometres on the back of a camel they are amazed by this funny dog.

Biscuit is an attraction on its own

Biscuit is an attraction on its own

A few more photos

What can possibly go wrong?

What can possibly go wrong?

In the starting area

Starting area

He didn't win but is happy anyway

He didn’t win but is happy anyway

Proud rider

Proud rider

Next year again – for sure

I will go again next year if possible. Special thanks to my friend Barracuda for the good organisation. Nice company at the camp as well!

Group photo

Group photo

Back home we were lucky to have a lovely evening without wind. A quick beer at the beach can’t hurt with a view like this – even the moon came out to play.

After the camel race a quick beer at the beach ...

After the camel race a quick beer at the beach …

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