From early in 1848 Lear had been thinking about a visit to Egypt and after nine months of travelling through the eastern Mediterranean, Lear finally reached Egypt in January 1849. The visit however was brief. In Cairo, he met up with his friend John Cross and they set out for Sinai and Palestine, but then gave up the trip. Lear returned to Egypt in 1853.
Lear did not enjoy Suez, however he was fascinated by the camels and wrote in a letter to his sister Ann 'As for the camels themselves-I cannot say much for them; they are quite harmless & quiet, but seem the most odious beasts-except when they are moving. The sort of horrible way they growl & snarl if you go 6 feet near them-is quite frightful-& if you did not know them you would suppose they were going to eat you. They do the same to their own masters & appear to have the most unsociable disposition in the world, even among themselves.'
For other sketches dating from 15-17 January 1949, see S. Wilcox, Edward Lear and the Art of Travel, New Haven, 2001, p. 64-5, nos. 36-38.