Egypt’s largest camel market is held at Birqash (pronounced Bir’ash), a small village 35km northwest of Cairo, just on the edge of the Delta’s cultivated land. It’s not for the faint of heart – many traders treat the camels with intense cruelty. Hundreds of camels are sold here every friday. Most of the animals are brought up the Forty Days Road from western Sudan to just north of Abu Simbel by camel herders, and from there to the market in Daraw in Upper Egypt. Unsold camels are then hobbled and crammed into trucks for the 24-hour drive to Birqash. In addition to those from Sudan, there are camels from various parts of Egypt (including Sinai, the west and the south) and sometimes from as far away as Somalia. They are traded for cash or other livestock, such as goats, sheep and horses, and sold for farm work or slaughter. Smaller camels go for as little as LE750, but bigger beasts can sell for LE6000 and up.
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