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Introducing Daraw

Just south of Kom Ombo is the village of Daraw, which has a remarkable camel market (souq al-gimaal). Most of the camels are brought up in caravans from Sudan’s Darfur and Kordofan along the Forty Days Rd (Darb al-Arba’een; allegedly named for the number of days it took to walk) to just north of Abu Simbel, from where they’re trucked to Daraw. Trading caravans were replaced by the faster railway at the end of the 19th century, but the camels still come, except now they are the cargo. Once in Daraw, they spend two days in quarantine, where they are inoculated against a number of diseases. After they have been sold by the Sudanese owners, most go on to the camel market in Birqash, about 35km northwest of Cairo, and from there they are sold again. Some are sold to Egyptian farmers, others are exported to other Middle Eastern countries, but many are slaughtered to provide meat for poorer Egyptians. Camels are sold here each day of the week, but the main market days are Tuesday and Thursday, when sometimes as many as 2000 camels are brought from Abu Simbel.

Also worth seeing is the small Nubian Hosh al-Kenzi, built in 1912 in traditional Nubian style and decorated with Nubian artefacts mostly made from palm trees. Next door is a workshop where the beaded curtains made from date pips, pieces of palm frond or various seeds are still made for Nubian houses.

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