Camel Safari in Jaisalmer

West of Rajasthan far out from Jaisalmer lies the majestic Thar Desert. What better way to be completely immersed in nothing but the world of sand, camels and small villages by going for a camel safari?

Most people opt for the 2D1N option which might not seem enough to go deep into the desert, but if you have a low tolerance for groin injuries and inner thigh aches, then 3 days riding on a camel may prove to be a little too much.

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Riding a camel may sound real fun but the true challenge is having to endure the bumps after long hours of being on one. The added cushions to make the saddle look fluffy and comfortable is only going to ease the idea that camel riding doesn’t cause any discomfort. But the truth is not what any of the tour groups are going to advertise. As a traveller, we should embrace that instead of complain for half the journey – it’s up to your own mind to decide how you want the rest of the camel safari to pan out.

I did the safari with an agency that wasn’t too honest with a lot of their promises. We didn’t have much food during the trip because the camel guides were taking all the good stuff like peanut butter to themselves and giving us the scrap remains. When we offered what little snacks we brought on the trip to share they would devour them like vultures. We were often divided and there wasn’t the kind of interactions that I would expect – more rather we were treated like just another group of tourists they were taking on a tour.

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But heck, despite all that, the group I went on the camel safari were all superb people and we had such a great journey ahead!

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Throughout the day we ride through the desert, passing towering wind turbines and acres after acres of endless sand, cactuses and goat sightings. We also visited villages which had a lot of begging from children – something I didn’t particularly enjoy. Some other place in another non commercialised village, children would probably feet you with an excited hello, but here they greet you with “10 rupees?”, “school pen?”. Such a shame.

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As we marched in a line like troopers with severely aching groins to our next rest stop, Josue breaks out into singing with Guillem, who would make a din to singalong too. I’m happy to have these Catalans in our group, they make everyone so chirpy with their singing and positive energy!
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Rest stops were not just for us, but for the camels too. We brought them to the water source and made sure that each of our camels were properly hydrated. I take chances like these to get acquainted with my not so little humped friend.

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First day of lunch and we get to witness some Animal Planet in the flesh! Apparently according to the camel men, it was mating season. And most of the camels in our group were males, there was only one female named Shanti. You can guess what happens next at daily lunch breaks.

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At lunch breaks we were always divided from the camel guides, us being in our group and them being in theirs. Maybe there was too many of us, all speaking in different languages that it becomes hard to communicate as a whole, but that’s fine. They make us some thick chapati cooked over the pan which were cooled off on coals and basic watery potato or daal curries. It was mostly carbs on carbs for every meal. But I enjoy watching them cook with what little pots they have and scrubbing off the plates with sand after the meals!

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Post lunch siestas are always what I looked forward to. We always huddled under a shaded tree and took a short break, Cedric always playing excellent music, creating great vibes from the limited range of music from his phone. And I always offered henna services to the girls so I could keep practicing 🙂

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We finally arrive at the dunes after surviving the first day of camel riding! It was so vast and so beautiful. Terry asks “Do you want to take a fucking amazing picture” and raced me up to the top of one of the sand dunes.

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Group victory shot for making it to the dunes ! Celebrating sore inner thighs and bruised balls.

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The sunsets were also one of the best I’ve ever witnessed. Nothing else offers a panoramic view quite like this – being in the sand dunes that seems to stretch endlessly, feeling so absolutely small in this vast universe. I had vowed to lay off the little sticks of tar since New Years in Pushkar, even socially. But this, Terry said was about enjoying it with the moment and the people; that resolutions shouldn’t have to restrict that. Great advice from one of the most inspiring friends I’ve met on this journey in India.

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Every night we would gather around the fire for some songs and to chat about anything and everything under the stars (literally). I mean, deserts always have the most beautiful view of the sky at night. Laying in the sand stargazing with Guillem, we try to identify as many as we know but started contemplating life and it’s problems.

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What i loved most about the camel safari was sleeping under the sky full of stars with dead silence into the night, and awaking to the blue and orange hues of the breaking dawn. Sleeping out in the open with nothing but mats and blankets on the sand was indeed an experience I won’t forget.
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I awoke the first morning before the sun came up, opening my eyes to a view I didn’t quite expect. Silhouettes of our lazy camels lay against a gradient wash created by the gentle peek of dusk. I climbed up to a higher viewpoint, dragging my thick blanket with me and sat down with Ben. He,too was up admiring the magnificence of the morning.

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I’ve seen many sunrises and sunsets in my life but this; this was special. The kind that paints such a vivid picture in your mind that when you try to remember that exact moment, it’s almost as if you were there again. The camel safari may be one of the ultimate overly touristy things to do in Jaisalmer but with good reason. Living in the desert was also a great escape from the hustle and bustle of loud piercing honks from traffic. For the entire journey the only sound we heard consisted of camel farts, falling poop and mating calls. Quite the contrary from a regular Indian city eh?

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Here’s ending the post with my humped trooper <3

Dara

Wanderer of lands, searcher of souls. Last seen tree hugging and running wild into the mountains. Might have eaten all the ice cream in the tub.

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