A camel safari in the Rajasthani Thar desert is as awesome as it sounds!
Departing from Jaisalmer, camel safaris are one of the top tourist activities, and your hotel will be keen to book you one. We chose to walk down to the Jaisalmer Fort main gate and talk to the safari companies directly. Directly beside the gate is Sahara Travels, a tour company founded by Mr. Desert himself (famous across India for documentaries and some Bollywood work).
Mr. Desert doesn’t actually take safaris out anymore. The man has retired and his (only mustachioed) son runs the business. Despite his lack of beard the company seems well run, the safari certainly went smoothly and we confidently recommend Sahara Travels for all your camel safari needs.
The Camel Safari
The evening tour leaves the office (beside the fort gates) at 3 PM and cost INR 2500 (about $50) four the whole family. There are also overnight and multi-day tours, but we didn’t have time and aren’t too sure we want to sleep in the desert with the kids (more on that later).
In our case, the group was about a dozen people. Everyone but us stayed overnight, and we came back in the jeeps at the end of the tour. There were two jeeps waiting for us. One jeep had a case of water bottles in it, and the other had a cooler full of water bottles on ice. Believe me, we needed them all. It was around 35 degrees in the shade!
It doesn’t take long to get out of the city, and our kids loved zooming down the bumpy highway in a jeep with no doors or windows. The first stop is a deserted village mostly in ruins. There is a temple and a few restored buildings to explore.
The story (as I understood it) goes that it used to be a thriving market village on the Silk Road between Pakistan and India. One day the local warlord came to the village and said “I’m taking the Leader’s daughter to be my wife, and you can’t stop me.” Apparently when he came back, the village was deserted and he never saw the people again.
The next stop is a desert oasis with a few trees around it. I waded into the water to wet the kids hats, only to discover that the water was as hot as a bath! Not refreshing at all, and in retrospect, not surprising at all.