Camel Wrestling. Photography Workshop Day 2.


Camel wrestling? Are you joking? When Arjen Zwart, an Istanbul photographer, advertised a two-day trek that included shooting camel wrestling, I just had to sign up. How often do you get to see camels wrestle? The day was made even more interesting as we got to follow one particular camel from his stables into the ring.

We were first introduce to our camel, Yildizhan, an enormous, fully grown bull, weighing 930 kilos, by his owner, Ahmed. He had paid 70,000 TL for this magnificent beast; camel wresting is obviously very serious, and very expensive! We watched as Yildizhan was loaded into a truck, with two other younger camels, ready for the short journey to Turgut Reis, where the camel wrestling was to take place. We followed on, with excitement, still unsure as to what the day would bring.

Yildizhan, being loaded into the truck

As our camels were being unloaded, we watched the others arriving, some by truck, and more just walking along the road. The camels wore such an aloof expression as they walked along, and made a magnificent spectacle decked out in their finery.

We followed Yildizhan into the arena, and saw the astonishing spectacle 
of camels as far as the eye could see; a riot of colour. 

Those are camel sausages, called sucuk. I couldn't resist trying a sucuk sandwich for lunch!

The occasion began with the sacrifice of a sheep in the middle of the arena, followed by prayers. Then the wrestling could begin. Camels wrestle in the wild when they are competing for a female, so, to encourage the first camels, two females were led into the arena. This made the camels froth at the mouth with anticipation, and the wrestling began. I expect that camels in the wild can get rather aggressive with each other, but here, the camels were dragged apart if it looked too violent, as these camels are far too valuable to allow them to be damaged in any way. As the first two camels were tussling with each other, the next pair were circled around to excite them, ready for their own bout. All the time, drums were being played, the intensity building as the day progressed. It was an amazing atmosphere.

When the camels wrestle each other, they try to get their head underneath the stomach to lift the other off the ground. Note our two intrepid photographers, Ozlem and Hilal. I was far too wary to venture that close to warring camels!

If the fight becomes too violent, the camels are pulled apart by two teams of men

They didn't manage to subdue Yildizhan and his opponent, and they carried on, crashing into the crowd. This (above) was taken by me, running backwards, as I had been sitting next to this post!

All around there were people partying!

After the excitement of the camel wrestling, we drove to Lake Bafa, for dinner in a fish restaurant. There we watched the sun go down on our memorable two days. Thank you Arjen, and thank you all my new friends. I had the best time!


  1. What does sucuk taste like? I don't think I've ever eaten camel before... The photos are fantastic!

  2. Actually, by the time you have tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber in the sandwich as well, it tastes like any other meat! Glad you like the photos!


I would love to have your thoughts on any aspect of my blog.

Press Centre

Press Centre
I couldn't resist this one!