Camel Safaris and Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer

Camel Safari 12 - Hello

Whether it is weaving through a sea of white-knuckle traffic on the back of a motorbike, harking back to the memory of a bygone era in the back of a human-pulled rickshaw, cruising the rural countryside on the back of an ATV, watching islands and beaches slowly drift by from the deck of a touring boat, or simply flagging down the classic tuk-tuk, the variety and quality of transportation modes while on the road can seem endless.  One ride I hadn’t yet taken, however, was the ride on the back of a camel, something that was quickly remedied in my next destination of Jaisalmer, where camel safaris are a particular specialty.

Located in the far Western corner of Rajasthan, almost to the border with Pakistan, Jaisalmer is another desert outpost boasting a brilliant hilltop fort overlooking the countryside below (it also has its own distinctive color, too, with it being dubbed “The Golden City” due to the yellowish sandstone from which is was built).  Harking back to its original settlement as a trading stop on the camel-train routes that cut through the country and stretched into Central Asia, however, its legacy has gone down as a town dealing with all things camel and camel-related.  Near the beginning of every year, they even hold a Desert Festival in which spectators can view camel races, camel polo, traditional dance and music, and vendors selling everything from pashminas and silks to stuffed camels and tee-shirts.  I was a few days too early for the Desert Festival, unfortunately, but that didn’t stop me from joining one of the many camel safaris that depart from the small town, taking visitors out into the desert on the back of a camel for a few days spent wandering amongst the sand dunes.

The town of Jaisalmer, the embarkation point for most of the camel tours in the area

The town of Jaisalmer, the embarkation point for most of the camel tours in the area

Getting geared up and ready to move out

Getting geared up and ready to move out

Camel Safari 21

Setting out for the first time

Camel Safari 46

Our own camel train making our way across the parched landscape

The path that lies ahead

The path that lies ahead

A small village where we stopped to buy some food for the camels

A small village where we stopped to buy some food for the camels

Camel Safari 41

Heading back out again

Considering the only things to eat were what we carried with us, meals were pretty simple.  In this case, it was a potato and vegatable curry with ramen noodle and chepati bread

Considering the only things to eat were what we carried with us (cooking utensils included), meals were pretty simple. In this case, it was a potato and vegetable curry with ramen noodle and chepati bread

There I am, looking all kinds of awkward atop my camel

There I am, looking all kinds of awkward atop my camel

After an afternoon spent bouncing around atop the hump of a camel (similar to riding a horse, but yet quite a different motion), it was certainly a relief to finally reach our campsite and get back on solid ground — though solid ground might not be the best descriptor.  Our digs for the night weren’t any fancy hotels or exotic desert huts, but simply a large stretch of untouched, towering sand dunes out in the elements and under the stars.

Our first look at the big dunes

Our first look at the big dunes

Camel Safari 100 - My Feet in Sand

Camel Safari 103 - Camel Troup

Camel Safari 111 - Designs in Sand Dunes

Having some fun with photography

Having some fun with photography

Camel Safari 115 - Me

Setting up camp and getting ready to make dinner

Setting up camp and getting ready to make dinner

Of course, even out in the dessert, we can't go without chai

Of course, even out in the desert, we can’t go without chai

Handmade Chapatis being grilled over the open fire

Handmade Chapatis being grilled over the open fire

Just before dinner, a few of us were enjoying the peacfulness of the area and someone remarked, "Wow, this may be the only place in India where someone isn't trying to sell you something."  Of course, almost immediately, a small boy with a bag slung over his shoulder materialized and started calling out, "Beer for sale, cold drinks, soda!"

Just before dinner, a few of us were enjoying the peacefulness of the area when someone remarked, “Wow, this may be the only place in India where someone isn’t trying to sell you something.” Of course, almost immediately, a small boy with a bag slung over his shoulder materialized and started calling out, “Beer for sale, cold drinks, soda!”

Finding a place to sleep is easy, simply throw a few blankets down on the sand and use your backpack as a pillow

Finding a place to sleep is easy, simply throw a few blankets down on the sand and use your backpack as a pillow

One aspect of the "Sleeping on the Sand Dunes" experience that they don't advertise, however, is the presence of thousands of dung beetles, all looking for a sliver of shelter.  They don't bite, so there isn't much worry in that regard, but don't be surprised when you wake up in the middle of the night with a few new friends under your blanket

One aspect of the “Sleeping on the Sand Dunes” experience that they don’t advertise, however, is the presence of thousands of dung beetles. They don’t bite, so they are essentially harmless, but given that they see a human sleeping in their environment as a great opportunity to find some much-needed shelter, don’t be surprised when you wake up in the middle of the night with a few dozen new friends under your blanket

Telling tales and swapping stories over a campfire

Telling tales and swapping stories over a campfire

The glow of the moon through the clouds above

The glow of the moon through the clouds above

After a fun night of fighting off dung beetles and withstanding sand storms under the watchful eye of the moon, it was time to pack up camp, jump atop our trusty camels once again, and make our way back out of the desert.  After a few days of catching back up on sleep, I’m off to the big city of Mumbai — formerly known as Bombay.  Until then, cheers from the desert outside of Jaisalmer!

Breakfast for the camels

Breakfast for the camels

Camel Safari 180

Camel Safari 186 - My Shadow

Camel Safari 182 - Riding

Hostel 3 - Camel Decorations

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About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

3 Responses to “Camel Safaris and Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer”

  1. Hi Andrew: I am Debbie Dredge from Urbana. You knew most of my kids from the Urbana Country Club pool and the Springfield YMCA swim team. I have always loved talking with your mom whenever I see her around Urbana. I hadn’t seen her for some time and asked about her at the hair salon where we often chatted. I was told that she moved back to eastern Ohio where you originally were living. I am sorry to hear that and I will miss her positive attitude and friendly ways. She told me about your blog long ago and I occasionally read some of what you are doing. I admire the fact that you are brave enough to actually leave everythng and go on this very special adventure. Since no one has actually commented on the blog for March, I decided to comment. You are awesome!!!! I have no idea where you actually are, but I like reading about your travels. Safe travels and good health to you. Debbie Dredge

    • Debbie,
      I definitely remember both you and your children (they were some of the best swimmers around!), and it’s great to hear from you. You are correct, that my mother has moved back to Eastern Ohio, but I will let her know that you’re thinking of her. And thank you for the kind words about my travels — it has been a fun ride so far. Thanks again for reading, and hopefully see you again sometime in the future!

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