Known for its Sunday camel market—the largest camel market in this part of the world—Daraw is otherwise a hot, dusty, and flyblown place. The camels come up from Sudan along the 40 Days Road. Traditionally, they made the trek on foot, but now more and more of them arrive in the backs of Toyota pickup trucks, which the camel drivers rent at Abu Simbel for the final leg of their trip. Merchants from Cairo, mostly, make their way to Daraw to take the camels back to Cairo.
The camels sold on Sundays are mostly destined for slaughter; rural Egyptians say camels make the best kofta (meatball) kebabs.
On Tuesdays, the Daraw market sells, in addition to camels, livestock: sheep, goats, cows, bulls, and poultry. Full of dust, tumult, and herders with whips, market days are nothing if not colorful and crowded with people and animals. However, while it's an exciting experience to push your way through the crowds, if you have a soft spot for four-legged creatures, you should brace yourself for the occasional upsetting sight. And it can be dangerous: Animals in crowded, unfamiliar surroundings can, and do, bolt. After you inspect the varieties of livestock and exchange views with Sudanese, Egyptians, and Beshari tribesmen about the animals, saunter over to the produce section before moving on to inspect the different sticks, staves, flyswatters, whips, and harness bits on sale here. Trading usually ends by 2 pm. In summer, the market is very hot and very odorous. Dress Code Alert: This market is not a vacation spot where immodest attire might be ignored. In fact, your guide may refuse to bring you if you are not dressed appropriately. This is rural Egypt, peasant Egypt, a rugged world where travelers of both genders had best wear long pants, long sleeves, and a headscarf—not just to be treated with respect by the fellah (farmers), but to avoid further distractions to the animals.