The Camel Market at Shalateen
A Must-Visit Place
In Shalateen, Sudanese herders, usually armed with a long traditional knife and a whip, bring their camels to sell to Egyptian traders. Some are bought for the tourism industry and some for meat. However, it may not be suitable for everyone as a few traders sometimes have reportedly resorted to beating camels in order to get them into the lorries for transportation north to the Birqash camel market outside Cairo. The Shalateen camel market is open daily but is usually busiest on Thursdays and quietest, though still open, on Fridays.
The local area is interesting as it remained outside Egyptian government control prior to 1992 and while the infrastructure has been recently modernized, much of the local way of life remains unchanged and is fascinating to observe. The Government has offered free electricity and water to try and encourage the local Bedouin to settle but many continue to make their living herding goats and sheep or trading in camels.
You should be able to spot the Rashaida tribesmen as they wear lavendar galibayas and the Rashaida women dark red dresses. They are descendants of a tribal group which emigrated to Egypt from the Arabian peninsula around 200 years ago. You will also probably see Bishari (the men often wearing large cotton turbans) and Ababda bedouin who have been indigenous to the Eastern Desert area of Egypt for centuries.
Most of the buildings and architecture in the town itself are however disappointingly modern. It’s divided into two sections – government and commercial buildings to the north and a shanty town of painted plywood and wooden plank houses to the south surrounding the souk.
There are only a few limited facilities but there is at least a bank, a police station, a post office, a simple but popular restaurant, Basmit El Ganoub, serving grilled meat or chicken and a hotel called (not joking) Baghout (meaning “The flea.”) It seemed quite clean but I wouldn’t recommend staying in Shalateen overnight.