This past Friday morning we woke up early and caught a cab to the camel market in Birqash, about 25 miles outside Cairo.
Every Friday morning between around 7 and 11 AM, thousands of camels are brought all the way up Egypt to this market to be sold. Some are used as beasts of burden, some as transport, and according to one book, some end up as food on the plates of some of the poorer families of Cairo.
Also, Lonely Planet makes a point of noting that PETA members should probably not make the trip, since the camels are "beaten relentlessly."
But with so many, in such a small place, there really is no other way to keep them in line. It's funny, at the entrance on the right side are the well-behaved camels, many of them on the ground or standing quietly. On the LEFT side are the crazy ones who are in a constant race against the camel herders.
All of the camels (as you'll see in the pictures) have one of their front legs bent at the knee and tied back so that they aren't very mobile. So the herders spend a lot of the time chasing after these camels that are sort of running/sort of hopping off. In an attempt to tame or tire out the rebellious camels, the herders would chase them out of the gate and then back in. However, due to the camel:camel herder ratio this meant that many times a camel would break free of the pack.
About 47 times, I stopped to take a picture and was momentarily oblivious to my surroundings. I would take the picture and then realize that a camel was charging right at me from the side or behind me and I had to pull out my best Adrian Peterson juke and get out of the way. Seriously, this happened more than it should have.
You can see the front leg tied up in this picture.