lima, peru
Camel jockey for a day in Kenya
October 9, 2016
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International Maralal Camel Derby? O que é isso?

My first camel race in Kenya

The friendly Brazilian guy I had just met while hiking Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro was curiously looking at the camel logo of my flashy red T-shirt. It couldn´t help smiling. Just a few weeks ago in Nairobi I had had the exact same reaction when another backpacker first told me about the African camel derby over breakfast.

Sim, é verdade! This August I participated in a camel race in Kenya 🙂

Camel Derby Maralal 2016

You came in 4th in the amateur race and won 200$? Tell me more.

Rio´s famous Christ the Redeemer statue was covered by the clouds, and I was in no rush to take my selfies. Just like Lominjira, my vain racecamel that was in no rush to cross the finish line on the last 300m of the race and instead chose to enjoy the applause of the hundreds of Samburus, Masais and expats who head ventured to Maralal for the weekend.

So you just rocked up in Maralal and rented a camel

Pretty much. I could hardly find any information about the race beforehand and tried my luck by arriving at the beginning of the Maralal festival weekend. It turned out the amateur race was taking place that Saturday morning. Everything was well organized, I paid the 80$ registration fee and got myself a camel that would be cheered on by my camel handler all throughout the 10km race.

What do you mean “you camped with the camels”?!

Camping with the camels was actually less scary than rolling out a sleeping back next to a cocky kea in New Zealand in February or camping with the hippos in Zambia last year. People don´t seem to know they can camp at the Yare Camel Club that organizes the camel derby, so I was the first one to pitch my tent there and only had to share the campsite with the racecamels.

“In my life before traveling the world” would I have imagined that I was going to earn money by taking part in a camel race all by myself in Africa? That I would sign up for a language course in Rio de Janeiro and end up telling people about it in Portuguese? That there was now a hilarious camel calendar available in Kenya with my picture on the cover? 😉

Maralal Camel Derby Calendar 2017

Just like the Brazilian guy up on that hill today, I doubt I will see anyone who any of the characters back in Maralal again: neither my racecamel Lominjira; nor the friendly festival organizer who got me one of his fastest camels; nor the friendly Kenyans who shared their photos and videos of me after the race. Apparently, I keep having the most memorable moments when I least expect it. The camel derby was one of them, and I am grateful I still have a few more highlights lined up before heading back to Europe.

Before the camel race in Kenya

Life is what happens while you´re busy making other plans. Just enjoy the ride.