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The 29th Edition of Maralal International Camel Derby Begins

by Noel Mutugi

maralal_camel_derby A previous Maralal camel derby, image by Magical Kenya

Kenya has proven magical in all ways with all-year-round interesting activities that you should never afford to miss. September 2018, takes us to Northern Kenya’s County of Samburu. The county’s administrative town of Maralal is home to the Yare Camel Club where the Camel Derby takes place every year. Maralal, a town situated approximately 350 Kms from Nairobi, is literally the gateway to the pristine Northern Kenya.

Samburu county is home to the culturally rich Samburu people who are nomadic pastoralists and are closely related to the Maasai. The county also hosts the Samburu National Reserve and the Buffalo Springs National Reserve.

Camel is a single-humped animal that originated in East Africa and later spread to Arabia. It is able to survive long periods without water, and able to withstand changes in body temperature.  It is said to have been domesticated 3,500 years ago and used since as an important pack animal. The Maralal International Camel Derby brings hundreds of these beasts and their owners together in a desert near Maralal.

previous Maralal camel derby, image by Magical Kenya

previous Maralal camel derby, image by Magical Kenya

The Maralal International Camel Derby is a fusion of colors, cultures and marvelous animals: all competing in the desert for the honors of having the top camel in the world. A serious sport and a wonderful spectacle with entrants from Australia, America, New Zealand, Canada, England, France, Spain, Japan, South Africa and around the world. It is hosted at the Yare Camel Club and Camp, 3 kilometers south of the township of Maralal. The Derby tests the speed and strength of the camels, and the handling abilities of their owners or jockeys. In addition, other activities that constantly feature during the event include cycling races, donkey rides, anti-poaching campaigns, local dancing displays and stalls where curios and handicrafts are available.

While announcing the start of this year’s edition, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Betty Radier said that the event provides an opportunity for Kenya to showcase its diverse tourism product that spans beyond the safari and beach offering. She emphasized on the continued partnership between KTB and the counties to help them package, position and sell their tourism products as export-ready products. On his part, Samburu County Governor, H.E. Mr. Moses Lenolkulal noted that the theme for this year’s Maralal International Camel Derby event is, “Celebrating our unity in cultural diversity through sport tourism and community conservation”.

“The Maralal International Camel Derby has over the years promoted cohesion and stability in Samburu County. This year’s event will not only celebrate our unity in diversity but also raise the banner for sports tourism and the involvement of local communities in the conservation of Kenya’s wildlife heritage,” he added.

Camel derby

Preparations at the Start point in a previous edition of the derby, image; africanexponent.com

The 29th Annual Maralal Camel Derby will be taking place this year at the Yare Camel Club from Thursday 30th to Sunday 2nd September 2018

A participant at the camel derby, image; complexmania.com

A participant at the camel derby, image; complexmania.com

To maximize the experience, it is advisable to join in the fun by hiring a camel and a handler, and enter the amateur races of 10 kilometers for a fun ride through the desert. The elite race is 42 kilometers, passing through the Maralal Township and semi-desert environments.

About Mwaniki Mutugi (370 Articles)
Noel Mutugi is a graduate of tourism management from Moi University, a tourism, travel & conservation enthusiast and a tour consultant at Kiboko Kenya Safaris (kibokokenyasafaris.com).