Most camels in Turkey are simply tourist attractions, used for pleasure rides or as photo props in places like Pamukkale and Side. It wasn’t always so, however. Camel caravans once crisscrossed Anatolia, transporting gemstones, spices and woven finery. Before the Balkan Wars of 1912–13, they extended northwest as far as Bosnia, beyond which the beasts fell ill due to the damp central European climate.

In Muslim folklore the perceived haughty demeanour of the animals is attributed to their knowledge of the hundredth, mystical epithet of Allah – humans only know the conventional ninety-nine.

The sport of camel wrestling is a quintessentially Turkish spectacle. The bizarre sight of male camels in rut, butting and leaning on each other (their mouths are bound to prevent biting) draws vast crowds across the western Aegean region; there’s even a camel wrestling league.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Turkey features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

1. Thailand There’s a reason why Thailand remains so popular with backpackers – it’s got idyllic islands, a rich culture, beach-huts aplenty, tantalising…

21 Aug 2015 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey

The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey

The allure of Istanbul is hard to beat. This thrilling city bridges two continents with a history spanning more than 2000 years. And with Istanbul’s Atatürk …

05 Aug 2015 • Eleanor Aldridge videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month