Maralal International Camel Race is an annual event organized by the Samburu County government. This event draws crowds from the local district, all over Kenya and internationally who gather in Maralal town to participate or simply spectate.
The event is categorized into 10 kilometre armature triathlon and professional/semi-professional camel race. Besides the camel race, there is also a 10 kilometre bike ride for professional cyclists and a 10 kilometre Marathon all spread within two days every mid-year.
Meet up in Nairobi at 0610 am.
Departed Nairobi at 0730 due to some latecomers and drove along Waiyaki Way to Nairobi Nakuru Highway. We had our first stop in Delamere Shop for breakfast and bathroom break along the Highway.
The second stop was at Nyahururu Town for lunch and second bathroom break. Nyahururu is the last major town if there’s anything you forgot to bring like toiletries.
At this stop, top up your hard and soft drinks enough for the 3 days in Maralal.
We arrived in Maralal at around 5 pm, just on time for sunset. Before going to our hotel, Maralal Safari Lodge, we stopped by Camel Derby grounds and watched a few traditional dances.
At this point, those who were participating in the Armature triathlon the following day registered for the race.
We thereafter left to our accommodation facility at Maralal Safari Lodge, pitched our tents and sat for a glass of wine over a good chat. Later that evening, the county government had organized a Cocktail event for the Maralal International Camel Race eve and we had been invited, courtesy of our organizer Charity of Adventure 360.
We got a chance to try Samburu traditional food like dried meat and beer drinkers had a feast: D
The second day of the Maralal International Camel Race is the busiest. We started with a real traditional wedding between two local young people at 7 am. .
The wedding included slaughtering of two goats by the groom and his party as the women were busy preparing the bride and also preparing to cook the meat.
One of the locals explained to me that during the wedding, the groom’s party slaughter two goats, take all the meat meant for men like intestines. The rest of the meat is taken to the women’s hut who sing in jubilation receiving the meat portion by portion.
The bride on the other side is adorned with traditional regalia made of goatskin and necklaces indicating her new marital status. This traditional wedding is not part of the Maralal International Camel Race itinerary but it was part of showcasing the Samburu Culture
After the wedding, it was time to cross over to the area where the camels were being prepared for the race. This involved confirmation of registration, choosing a camel and making peace with your camel and guide. This is important to get familiar with the two.
The 10-kilometre armature camel race was slated to start at 10 am but due to extreme Africa timing practice, we started almost at 11 AM.
After the race was the bicycle race and the marathon followed shortly. After the main event, there’s nothing much that happened for the rest of the day.
On the same day in the evening, there was colourful entertainment and prize giving ceremony presided by the deputy governor and the main event sponsors Kenya Commercial Bank.
Day 3 is mostly for the 21 kilometre semi-professional and professional camel race.
The event was supposed to start at 7 AM but again African timing took a toll on the organizers 😀
Day three ends with Prize Giving session for the professional riders, and closing remarks from the local County government.
Before returning to Nairobi, we passed by Kenyatta House in Maralal, a three bedroom bungalow constructed in 1959 where Mzee Jomo kenyatta was detained during the colonial times. It’s also in the same house where the current Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was conceived when Mama Ngina Kenyatta visited her husband during his detention, before independence.
The Maralal International Camel Race is not just an event, it’s an entertaining festival, the biggest in the small town of Maralal.
This event brings Maralal to life with guests from all over Kenya and the world, and friendly locals who are ready to entertain and share their culture.
If visiting Kenya during that time, it’s important not to miss this event. If you’re wondering where Maralal is or how to get there, our guide Charity of Adventure 360 did a fantastic job. I’d highly recommend her company (Not pitching for them but truth should be said).
Until the next post <3