The Maralal International Camel Derby 2023 occurred from October 5 to October 8 in Samburu’s county headquarters, Maralal. It’s a unique event that attracts enthusiasts worldwide, combining culture and sport in a captivating extravaganza.

The festivities begin at the Yare Camel Club in Maralal town, with amateur camel riders and skilled handlers assembling for this remarkable event.

The festivities begin at the Yare Camel Club in Maralal town, with amateur camel riders and skilled handlers assembling for this remarkable event. The derby features various races, including 10km for amateurs, 21km for professionals, and challenging cycling races.

One of the highlights of the derby is the diverse participation it attracts. Participants worldwide joined this year, including the USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Canada, Australia, and Germany. This international gathering showcases the event’s universal appeal and the global recognition it has earned over the years.

One of the highlights of the derby is the diverse participation it attracts. Participants worldwide joined this year, including the USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

Amid the racing excitement, there’s also room for cultural moments. Locals formalized their marriages through traditional rituals at this year’s derby, adding a romantic touch to the event.

Amid the racing excitement, there's also room for cultural moments. Locals formalized their marriages through traditional rituals at this year's derby, adding a romantic touch to the event.

Amateur camel races are popular, with participants racing from Yare Camel Club to Maralal town and back. Meanwhile, cycling races held concurrently with the derby cater to many enthusiasts, including children, amateurs, and professionals. Behind the scenes, other odd games, such as the Bao board, are a thrill to watch.

The Bao board consists of thirty-two holes arranged in four rows of eight, with two rows designated for each player. Some boards have twenty-four holes. The Maasai people call these holes “inkang’ite” (singularly “enkang”), which translates to “bomas” or “cattle enclosures.” The game uses sixty-four beans named “ingishu” (singularly “engiteng”), which means “cows”.

The Bao board consists of thirty-two holes arranged in four rows of eight, with two rows designated for each player.

The front rows of “inkang’ite” are the central two rows, while each player’s back row is the row closest to them. The game’s goal is to move your cows among your enclosures and steal cows from your opponents’ front-row enclosures, preventing them from having any cows in their front row.

Jockeys guide camels while supporters cheer along the race route. This sense of community and enthusiasm sets the Maralal International Camel Derby apart, making it a must-visit event for adventure seekers and cultural enthusiasts.

Jockeys guide camels while supporters cheer along the race route.

Look Out for 2024

The Maralal International Camel Derby 2023 celebrates culture, adventure, and international camaraderie. Don’t miss out on the thrilling races, cultural highlights, and global participants that make this event a major attraction on Samburu’s calendar.