Desert people's have always and still do use camels as a mode of travel to this day. You would think that the salt trade in the hostile Sahara Desert, about 500 miles north of Timbuktu, would be taken over by trucks. But such is not the case.
Caravans of camels are being used to pick up the salt and deliver it to the cities just as they have been doing for thousands of years. The people who use the salt place lower value on the salt delivered by the few trucks that do make the trip. The old traditional way of the caravans is preferred.
These salt traders are the real men of the wilderness, enduring 120 degree heat at times and long journeys that take weeks through the barren deserts. Eating what ever they can and the precious supplies they bring on their journeys. Going from one watering hole to another as generations before them have done. One blessing that was given to these salt traders was from the French who lined their wells at the tops with cement. The French wanted to incur favor with the traders by this amazing effort. And it worked to a point. Today the wells are not as hard to keep cleared of sand as in times past because of these wonderful cement gifts.
Anywhere there is a desert with people who live there, you will find camels.
Trade, beginning around 300 CE,was conducted by caravans of camels. These camels would be fattened for a number of months on the plains of either the Maghreb or the Sahel before being assembled into a caravan. According to Ibn Battuta, the explorer who accompanied one of the caravans, the average size per caravan was 1,000 camels; some caravans were as large as 12,000.The caravans would be guided by highly paid Berbers who knew the desert and could ensure safe passage from their fellow desert nomads The survival of a caravan was precarious and would rely on careful coordination. Runners would be sent ahead to oases so that water could be shipped out to the caravan when it was still several days away, as the caravans could not carry enough with them to make the full journey.
A person can still pay the Berbers to accompany a caravan on a salt journey for the ultimate adventure. One man did and wrote of his fantastic journey on a caravan to the salt mines and back. I fully enjoyed this book cover to cover! If you want to know what it was like to be on a real caravan this modern writer puts it into complete perspective like no other writers on the topic ever have.