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The city of Daraw is located within Aswan, Egypt and is mainly known for its remarkable camel market. The Daraw Airport, also known as the Aswan Airport, allows tourists from all over the world to come and see thousands of camels in one place. This small town is located to the south of Kom Ombo and many Egyptian cemeteries can also be found near the town.
The Aswan Airport is well-connected to Cairo and other major destinations. Rail is also a good way to reach the region. However, the most enchanting way to get to Daraw is to take a felucca (travel barge) down the Nile. The feluccas stop regularly at Daraw, which is included in almost all the cruises on the Nile. In addition, many travel agents also provide a tour of the city with pick-up and drop-off from the hotel. Arrangements can also be made to take the tourists from their feluccas and leave drop them back off after the tour. Aswan is just 20 km from Daraw and it has some good taxi services to take you to visit the camel market.
Unfortunately, Daraw does not have good accommodation options. Tourists often choose Daraw as a day trip option from Aswan or a stop-over on their Nile cruise for this reason. On the other hand, Aswan has some good hotels suited to all budget needs, so that is also another good option.
The camel market of Daraw is known as Souq Al-Gimaal. The camels start their journey primarily from Omdurman in Sudan. Due to the large area available for grazing, Sudan has the second largest herd of camels. Initially, this journey took forty days and was thus called the Darb al-Arba’een. Seven hundred years ago, the camel caravans came through Kharga and Salima oases, but today, the camels are trucked to Daraw from north of Abu Simbel. Some of the camels enter Egypt at Wadi al-Alagi and enter the market in smaller groups. In Daraw the camels spend a couple of days in quarantine having their health and status checked before being sold in the market.
As many as 2,000 camels come to Daraw for the camel market, but in the past, this number was even higher. A historian recorded as many as 14,000 camels traveling along the forty-day road at one time, so many camels that the caravans looked like armies winding along the desert. Most of the camels that come to the market nowadays are then sent to market in Birqash where they are sold again. While some camels are exported to Middle Eastern countries, most are sold to farmers or slaughtered to provide meat.
The camel market of Daraw is there each day, but the main markets are on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, the market also has cows, goats, and other livestock. The markets are crowded with people and are full of dust and herders with whips moving their camels along. The Nubian men are busy squeezing their tuktuks through the market and selling molokheya (Egyptian spinach) and mint.
Although the market may be full of camels and buyers and be dusty and loud, it is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see so many camels in one place and get a look at an old-fashioned camel market.
On the west bank of the Nile is the remains of an ancient temple of Contra-Ombos. The quarries at Gebel el-Hamman provided the stones for the construction of the old temple of Ombos during the reign of Hatshepsut during the 18th dynasty. The ruins are near Rakaba which is not very far from Daraw. Another interesting place to visit nearby is El-kubaniya, which is a small village and has many early Egyptian cemeteries.
Tourists can also visit the famous temple of Kom Ombo which is located about 50 km north of Aswan. The temple worships two deities and was built between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. Crocodiles were sacred and worshipped here. A small shrine has some mummified crocodiles which enthrall the tourists. The walls of the temples have also been beautifully decorated with beautiful depictions of pharaohs.
Hosh al-Kenzi is a small Nubian museum and well worth a visit to see its traditional Nubian style of constructed houses and artifacts. The museum was built in 1912 and artifacts have mostly been made from palm trees. It also has a workshop where beaded curtains are made from pieces of palm frond and date pips and they adorn many Nubian houses even today.
Daraw may just be a small rural market village, but the presence of the camel market here in such a large number definitely makes it a beautiful adventure and ancient ruins nearby add to the overall experience.