Postcard from Douz’s Annual Camel Festival

by EdventureGirl /
EdventureGirl's picture
Apr 05, 2012 / 2 comments

Sunlight shines down onto the Saharan desert town of Douz. Dust flies in great clouds as Bedouin camel herders parade into town, their camels snorting and growling loudly as they plod slowly in behind them to great fanfare and cheers. Small children peek out from under tent flaps, dirty brown faces smiling out at everyone. Pipes and drums play joyously in the background, and somewhere amongst the tents a woman trills loudly, expressing her excitement in the traditional Bedouin way. You are at Douz’s annual camel festival.


Douz’s Annual Camel Festival


Each year around Christmas, Bedouins travel from around the Sahara to participate in this four day festival, which allows them to showcase their beasts, and trade for both new wives and new camels. The festival features traditional music and dancing, as well as poetry readings; but it is best known for the action-packed horse, camel, and dog races.


At the sound of the gun, flawless white camels burst into a rolling gallop, bouncing their riders vigorously up and down as they charge across the Sahara in a beautiful show of both grace and speed. An instant later, the horses start, flowing across the hard-packed desert sand, trappings streaming behind as their riders expertly perform feats of dexterity, riding both upside down and backwards, standing up effortlessly, and making the women gasp with awful suspense as they throw gleeful small children to each other.


The festivities go on until late at night, and continue early the next morning. There are many available hotels around, but camping can be fun too, as well as much cheaper and less likely to transport parasites, which sadly are in evidence all over Northern Africa. Transportation around Douz to some of the larger hotels and campgrounds is quite interesting to experience and I would suggest it just for the story! It can be found in the form of a truck bed, camel, or donkey cart if you have a few bucks and some sign language, but nearly everything is within walking distance.


Although arriving exactly on time for the festival can prove tricky, due to the laid back Bedouin timeframe, this festival is well worth the trouble! It is not well known to Western tourists, and therefore has not yet been ruined by the tourism industry. Attending this festival is like stepping back in time to the days of the Arabian Knights. It is a highly unforgettable experience, and one I would recommend to every traveler.


Hannah Miller is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program

Comments (2)

Leave a comment