Now is the time to see the interesting sport of Camel Wrestling in the area as the new season gets underway.
Bring together two rutting camels, parade a lady camel in front of them and what do you get – two frisky, feisty, foaming camels and a whole afternoons entertainment!
We left Fethiye on a sunny Sunday morning and headed along the beautiful coast road (400) past Kalkan, Kas, through Finike and beyond until we arrived at Kumluca some two and a half hours later.
At the far end of the town we found the venue – a sort of mini football stadium.
As we approached we heard the cheers of the crowd and the excited bellowing of the ring master blaring into the charcoal smoke rich air.
We were here!…….The door men were surprised to see our foreign faces but enthusiastically welcomed us in every language they knew. There was no charge!
As we passed through the gates we were greeted with a sausage sizzler selling savoury snacks – and so you could really get the taste of the occasion his sausage was made from, yes really, Camel!
The key players were tied up outside the stadium and dressed in their bright colours, they looked very smart.
Their saddles were embroidered with their names and their bells rang as they swayed in anticipation. Their mood couldn’t be hidden – they were literally foaming at the mouth with excitement!
The stadium was packed with people, young and old, and all eyes were fixed on the fenced-off arena.
Two of the ‘wrestlers’ were brought in and held by their equally well dressed owners who then muzzled and prepared their animals for the match.
A group of 10 – 15 white-bibbed restrainers then settled around the edge of the pitch.
Next the female camel was brought in and paraded around the stadium much to the delight of the crowd.
The wrestlers were brought together.
The two camels then locked necks and writhed and tussled with each other.
One of them moved its head to the feet of the other in an attempt to knock it over but was unsuccessful.
The other camel the moved its head down in a similar way and lifted the other off its front legs.
The two camels moved closer to the barrier showering the crowd in ‘foam’ and ‘saliva’…..urggghh.
The crowd cheered! The white bibbed restrainers moved in and secured ropes around the two wresters. The referee barked orders via his megaphone the two were split….. they returned to a head lock and then……..one of the camels ran off! The crowd laughed.
That was it – a clear winner!
The bouts continued into the afternoon with a short break to watch one of the local businessmen be paraded around on top of one of the camels with a group of drummers following behind.
He had donated money to charity so this was his reward!
The bouts were very competitive and this spirit boiled over in one of the later bouts.
There appeared to be an illegal move, or was it intervention by one of the owners?
The referee shouted in his megaphone, the crowd cheered, the two owners were now nose to nose…..but the white-bibbed restrainers, who had split up the camels earlier, were now helping to split up the disgruntled owners who were led away in different directions.
So, it seems the Camels aren’t the only ones to get the hump!
The Camel Wrestling takes place at various locations in south west Turkey between January and April. Events are publicised via posters so keep you’re eyes peeled if want to see this unique event.