Explore the unique camel wrestling festival in Turkey

The Selcuk-Efes camel wrestling festival is a unique traditional Turkey festival dating back more than 2,400 years ago. It is an opportunity for two male camels to find a way to defeat the opponent to show off in front of the female camel.

Camels participate in wrestling at the Pamucak arena during the annual Selcuk-Efes camel wrestling festival in the town of Selcuk, Turkey. On the third Sunday of each January, the people of Selcuk in Turkey gather to experience the camel wrestling tournament according to the unique local tradition.

The Selcuk camel wrestling festival in Turkey dates back over 2400 years and originates from nomadic Turkic tribes. With the participation of dozens of camels and thousands of spectators, the festival takes place about 7 km from Selcuk in western Turkey and can last until March.

The male camel fights for the female camel and seeks to defeat the opponent to win.

Camel wrestling is a sport in which two male Tulu (hybrid camels) wrestle to separate the high and low before the female camel is led through their nose. 

Like boxing, camels of the same weight class will wrestle with each other. Camel wrestling is most common in the Aegean region of Turkey but can also be found in Marmara and the Mediterranean.

The day before the festival, the camels get dressed and march through town with the musicians. It is estimated that Turkey has about 1,200 camel wrestlers of the genus Tulu camel. They are bred specifically for competitions.

There are three ways to determine a winning camel when they cause the opponent to scream, retreat or fall.

Turkey’s camel wrestling tournament hosts more than 30 events across the country and lasts from November to March.

Camels also wrestle in the wild. Nomads were the first to organize camel wrestling. This sport has been criticized by animal protection organizations.

Selcuk City has asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to include camel wrestling on the World Heritage list because of its historical and cultural significance to the region.

Around the world there are many new and unique festivals, the Turkish camel wrestling festival is one of them. If you have the opportunity to travel to Turkey, do not miss this unique festival.