Group of merchants, pilgrims, or travelers journeying together, usually for mutual protection, in deserts or other hostile regions. The camel was the most common means of transport. Caravans have been described since the beginning of recorded history, and they were a major factor in the growth of settlements along their routes. One caravan trail developed into the Silk Road. During the height of caravan travel, which lasted until the 19th century, a single caravan of Muslim pilgrims journeying from Cairo and Damascus to Mecca might employ as many as 10,000 camels.