CAMEL SAFARI IN JAISALMER: SLEEP UNDER THE STARS
While exploring the Golden City it’s likely you will be offered a camel safari in Jaisalmer. It’s the most popular tourist attraction in the western region of Rajasthan. The Sam Sand Dunes are on the outskirts of Jaisalmer in the Desert National Park provide the perfect landscape for slow-paced trekking and escaping the city.
During my time in Jaisalmer, I stayed at Pleasant Haveli Hotel, a beautiful boutique hotel with a direct view of the Jaisalmer Fort. Despite the huge array of tours I decided to book through my hotel because the staff had been so genuine and accommodating during my hotel stay I hoped it would continue throughout the Safari. So, I booked a camel safari in Jaisalmer with Pleasant Haveli. This was not a sponsored camel safari, I chose Pleasant Haveli because of the genuine people at the hotel we were already staying at.
Click here to check the prices and availability of Pleasant Haveli Hotel.
Pleasant Haveli Hotel Rooftop Restaurant
Jaisalmer Desert Safari Package Cost
You are able to choose a one night, two-night camel safari in Jaisalmer. However, our guide said you can ultimately pick a number and they will do it. 30 days in the desert was the most he had done on a guided trip. My friend Jackie and I decided that one night might be a bit of a rush so we opted for two nights to get a good experience of the desert. It turned out to be the perfect amount.
Each night on the camel safari in Jaisalamer with Pleasant Haveli costs 1850 rupees, which is equivalent to 28 USD at the time of writing this. So our two-night/three-day trek cost $56 USD I had heard of a few tours running a bit cheaper around 1400 rupees but that is a difference of $5-6, so I thought with 3 days in the desert it wasn’t the time to sacrifice quality over a few dollars.
Included in the cost:
- Jeep transfer to the desert starting point
- One camel per person plus two gear/backup camels
- One guide
- All meals and unlimited bottled drinking water
- Accommodation each night (First-night: camp bed with blankets mattress, second-night: soft mat, and blankets directly on the sand dunes)
- Jeep transfer back to hotel
- Use of shower/room before departure from Jaisalmer if not staying that night at the hotel.
Our Camel Safari in Jaisalmer Desert
Camel Safari in Jaisalmer Day 1:
The jeep picked us up in the morning and drove us through some remote villages before we arrived at a random spot in a field about an hour after we had set off. 5 camels stood waiting all packed and ready to go.
I sat on my camel, ‘Mr. India’, he lurched forward and then rocked back as he rose to all fours and then we took off. Monsoon season had well and truly left a lasting effect on the landscape. It was far greener than I had imagined. It definitely wasn’t endless sand dunes, but as the tour went on in the relentless heat, it would be something I became thankful for.
Riding a camel is slightly less comfortable than riding a horse. You are up high and have great views but my legs and butt began to hurt after an hour of riding each time. Luckily we stopped often.
Both days we stopped at a village. For those new to India, it may be an ‘interesting’ experience. You step off your camel and before you have had a chance to wipe the dust from your face, kids are at your feet, holding your hand and asking for chocolate, pens and your wristwatch. They see tourists sporadically and often they are given little gifts. There is no right or wrong of what you should or shouldn’t give. My experience in India has been if you give one you end up giving one million and no one is ever satisfied. I do my best to interact with the kids and villagers but ultimately everyone knows we are visiting for half an hour before continuing on our journey.
I tried to take the visits for what they were. A chance to hang out with kids, teenagers and check out a village in the desert. This isn’t a philanthropic visit and despite the pressure placed on you to give gifts, the kids are happy to hang out for 30 minutes with a strange looking guy with a beard. They aren’t materialistic and are great children but are opportunistic, as we all are.
After stopping at the first village we went on our way for another hour. The sun was now at its peak and both Jackie and I are used to the heat. However, it was strong! Sunscreen was a must even for those irresponsible humans like myself who rarely use it.
We found shade in amongst some trees and our guide, Sambu, began unloading all of the gear. Cooking wasn’t just a get fed and get out affair. Sambu spared no spice and no side when he prepared traditional Indian dishes. First, he would make the fire with sticks he had collected before boiling the chai tea. Then as we enjoyed the chai tea he would begin making rice and Dahl. Then he would make chapati bread from scratch and cook it on the charcoals!
Sambu never let us eat just a little. Like the great Indian hospitality, we have come to know, he force- fed us until we could eat no more. Going hungry isn’t a possibility on this trip. All of the food was vegetarian so it suited almost all diets.
The heat was now at an uncomfortable pressure. With no air conditioning, cold water or refreshing shower in sight, we carried on melting but enjoying the arid landscape. In the Desert National Park, herds of deer roam the mountains and I enjoyed spotting them out in the distance as our camels plodded along.
We arrived at a breathtaking area of sand dunes after trekking through shrubs and sand for most of the first day. I’ve never been slept in sand dunes but couldn’t have imagined anything more awesome. Sambu unloaded the gear and got to work on setting up camp. Pleasant Haveli has a small hut with army style beds stacked together. We grabbed a couple and set them up in the middle of a sand dune.
As the sun began to set the temperature cooled down and it was the perfect time to read a book, take in the serenity such isolation affords and savor the moment. As darkness fell and the temperature cooled further I watched shooting stars and satellites moving left and right across a blanket of stars.
Camel Safari in Jaisalmer Day 2:
The second morning of our camel safari in Jaisalmer began how our desert morning should. My sleep was rudely interrupted by a pastel sunrise creeping over the dunes. Sambu had already woken to make chai and look for the camels. Overnight they are let free to graze and they had traveled 3 kilometers away. This meant Sambu started his day with a 6-kilometer round trip just to fetch the camels.
After a breakfast of porridge, toast, papaya, and chai we gathered our gear together and headed out to another desert village. We again skipped between grass, farmland and sand dunes during the morning journey.
We arrived at the village with no feeling in our butts and had gathered a new team member as a village dog had joined our convoy for several hours. Kids immediately began streaming down the hill and I felt like the pied piper. Kamali one of the teenagers in the village spoke English and gave us a ramshackle tour of the village. At some points, more than forty children followed us around laughing and cracking jokes about us that we couldn’t understand. Once again we didn’t give any gifts but made the most of visiting the village and the kids seemed to enjoy having some action of an unusual kind in what seems like an isolated place to live.
Lunch on our second day of our camel safari in Jaisalmer was beneath a big old tree next to a lake. The small lake was used by the villagers who came with trucks to pump the water and take it back to the villages for cooking, drinking, and daily use. Shepherds brought hundreds of goats, sheep, cows, and camels to drink from the lake and at times I felt I was sitting in the middle of the great migration.
The second night was spent at another beautiful slate of sand dunes. Sambu felt the need to ask us if the spot was okay, which of course it was. It was amazing! We played around in the sand dunes until it got dark. This time we had no army style beds just a thin mattress and slept straight on the sand dunes. It was comfortable enough but a strong wind meant I wiped the sand from my teeth in the morning. It didn’t matter we were in the desert and expected to be sandy.
Morning chai was accompanied by a gaze over the dunes and a complete sense of gratitude. We grabbed everything together and made a one hour trek before being picked up by the jeep and heading back to Pleasant Haveli Hotel. Our camel safari in Jaisalmer had come to an end.
We were leaving to Jodhpur that night so we didn’t have room to wash up in but the staff gave us an entire room to use for the day so we could shower, relax and recover. It was above and beyond what was necessary or expected and one of the reasons you can count on this group of staff to treat you like a friend throughout your stay.
How are the camels treated?
As far as camel treatment goes they were in good shape and Sambu looked after them. However, there is no denying riding a camel isn’t the best thing for the animal. They are tied up at times and carrying heavy loads in the heat. Overall it was an amazing experience and part of life in the desert for many Rajasthani’s.