This is as far east as we will come in India this time. We are still in Rajasthan and here in Jaisalmer we have a list of places to see. One of the other key reasons for coming here is to take a Jaisalmer Camel Safari into the Thar Desert. Yep, that’s right. We’re going to ride camels into the desert, sleep out there and ride back again.
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It is possible to take a longer trip. However, after our Mongolian experiences, where we rode a camel for an hour and THAT WAS ENOUGH, then two half days we figure is more than enough.
We’ve chosen to go with Trotters Camel Safaris. We have had a great email exchange with them. There was a bit of a rocky start, when we arrived into Jaisalmer late on Indian trains in the rain.
They weren’t there to pick us up, so it was a short yomp to their offices.
Trotters is not named, as we initially thought, for the camels trotting through the desert. Yes, you’ve guessed it. There is a Del Boy at this Trotters. And they are the Rajasthani Trotters Independent Tours
The rain will delay our start for 24 hours. That’s fine for us, as we’ll discover Jaisalmer instead. We’re also taking the 1800 INR (US$26.80, GBP 20) per person safari and we set off at 1330. Our backpacks are stored in the office, we’re taking only day packs with us.
Our Jaisalmer camel safari route is very simple.
There are two other guests in the jeep with us and first we head to a watering hole and spot our first desert camels.
Then we head to Khaba Fort. Khaba Fort was the home of Paliwal Brahmins. There are ruins of the homes of 80 families who used to live here. There’s a small museum here, and it’s well preserved.
A further 90 minutes in the jeep and we arrive at a caravan of camels. That’s the collective term for camels. I just hope that three is enough of a collection to be a caravan. We’re in the middle of nowhere. Or rather we’re on the edges of the Thar desert.
Three more guests and a few more camels arrive and then we set off.
There’s one camel each. Three guides to look after the camels and us and there’s one young camel being trained. It’s seriously hot. I’m glad I went for the long sleeves, I can feel the sun burning my skin if I leave it exposed.
The camel isn’t uncomfortable to ride, although at the end of the 2 hours and 30 minutes I’m glad to be off it.
What is uncomfortable is that I’m in a line of camels, the camel behind me has taken a liking to my foot. Camel spit and saliva is disgusting. Truly.
Getting on and off the camel is a shriek inducing experience for some. Just a little uncomfortable for others. Lurchy certainly.
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It’s been lovely, peaceful in a desolate sort of a way getting here.
Here is a brick building in the desert. It’s here where we’ll spend the night. Our guides explain that they want to be close to the building in case it rains in the night.
There’s also a small room here that they class as the kitchen. We’re all happy to pitch in preparing the vegetables for the night’s meal, while the guides feed us snacks and chai.
They’re good these guys, they have managed to produce ice cold 650ml bottles of Indian beer in the desert and are selling them to us at 160 INR each. We grab a couple and then head for the jeep, which takes us out into the dunes for sunset.
It’s fabulous. We’re in the Thar desert. Pakistan over there somewhere, and out here there’s nothing else.
When we return dinner is ready. It’s glorious. It’s a dinner of champions. There’s dal, chilli, curried onions, potato, cauliflower and cabbage served with rice and chapatti. There are seemingly endless tasty portions.
The guides are mightily amused that, when offered the option of inside or outside, we all elect to sleep on the uncovered porch of the building. We figure we can always move inside it if rains in the night.
Bedtime preparations involve heading off to find a dune to have a pee behind. There are instructions to “bury it”, if there’s more than a pee involved. We brush our teeth and then all climb into the provided blankets.
We brought our sheet sleeping bags, but I just use it as a pillow, we’re all fully clothed anyways. My clothes smell just as much of camel as the blankets do, but I’m cosy all night. Del Boy himself stayed the night too and their team made sure that we were heaped in covers, there were three blankets each and a thin mattress to sleep on.
If you haven’t slept out in a desert under the moon and stars, then put it on your bucket list now. It’s fantastic. What’s even better, with the Trotters is that they wake you just before sunrise with a cup of hot sweet chai.
So there we were. In the Thar desert, snug chin deep in warm blankets, with a cup of chai watching the sun rise.
After a quick breakfast, we help bring the camels to the saddling area, and help saddle them. Or perhaps we just got in the way.
There’s just 90 minutes on the camels this morning. A few tips for our great guides and then after an hour in the jeep we’re back in Jaisalmer, where either a drop off at our hotel is on offer, or a free shower.
You don’t have to travel far into the Thar desert to experience the desolate wildness. There’s very little light pollution out here, so it might be cold on a clear night, but the stars are glorious. Watching the sun both set and rise on a Jaisalmer camel safari is an experience you should put on your bucket list.
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