Since the moment I began researching a trip to Rajasthan, India, a camel safari into the desert around Jaisalmer had topped my list of things to do. Finally, that moment came and although it wasn’t exactly what I had imagined, it was a worthy and memorable experience.
It all started at 1 PM when our guide Fatan (who runs The Real Deal Rajasthan Camel Safari) picked us up at our hotel. We jumped into the jeep with a couple from China and proceeded out to the small village where we would board our camels. Along the way, we stopped at some historic sites as well as some Jain temples and an abandoned village. It was a great addition to the trip that we weren’t expecting.
We arrived at the village around 3 PM and jumped on the camels for a 1.5 hour ride to the sand dunes where we would spend the night. I had imagined a landscape of endless dunes but most of it was shrub desert until we reached the camp. It was a short ride but I was happy to be finished as my groin was getting sore from the awkward back of the camel. I just couldn’t get comfortable but it seemed to bother me more than anyone else. Fatan met us there with the jeep and all the supplies, which made everything quite easy. As you can see, it’s not exactly a “wild” experience but then again, it’s only one night. If you want to make it wilder, you’ll have to go for a longer trip. Regardless, being out in the dunes as the sun set over the golden desert was stunning.
Some of the bushes around us were home to semi-wild dogs with many young puppies. These little creatures really added to the experience and I wish I could have taken them all home with me. I doubt many of them will survive in the desert, despite eating scraps from the guides. Then again, many don’t survive the cities either and the desert is a far more peaceful than the city streets.
During the evening, we were served some traditional food such as chapatis, rice, curry potatoes, lentils, and masala tea. We bought some beer as well and talked around the small campfire. When it was time to sleep, we climbed into our padded sleeping bags and slept under the starry sky. It was very nice to sleep under the stars and was a much needed break from the noisy streets of the city. Every now and then though, I’d wake to the growls of the dogs. It turned out that some of the puppies had been trying to sneak into the other couples sleeping bags. My wife woke to the puppies looking at her as well but as soon as they saw her eyes, they ran off. I would have liked to take them all in but they didn’t come to my side – I don’t think.
When dusk turned to dawn, I was happy to wake up. It was warm under the sheets but quite cold outside. I went for a shoeless walk into the dunes just to feel the sand beneath my toes but it was quite painful due to how cold the sand was. I went back and grabbed my shoes and went back out. It was peaceful to be alone in the dunes for a while. The sunrise (and the ensuing heat) was beautiful and soothing. Once I was down in a dune, it felt like no one else was around me. Then I saw the puppies again, following their mom towards our camp. I wanted to pet them but I’m never sure how the dogs will react. At breakfast though, I showed them some love by sharing our toast and chapatis with the mother, who looked quite frail.
After breakfast, we packed up while the camel guides went to look for the camels who roamed free during the night. I wasn’t looking forward to being on the camel again but it would only be an hour so I sucked it up. It was a short trip but certainly a must-do activity if you’re in Jaisalmer.
There are many companies who organize tours into the desert but we chose the Real Deal Camel Safari after finding Fatan online and looking at all the positive TripAdvisor reviews. You can check out what other people think on TripAdvisor by clicking here.
All pics by me. Follow me on Instagram @MatthewGBailey