Hello, Namaste and welcome to another edition of Far East Adventure Travel-The Podcast brought to you by Far East Adventure Travel Magazine Camel Trekking in The Thar Desert of India, this month’s issue is now on the iTunes Newstand. Go to the app store-search Far East Adventure Travel, download the app and subscribe. Or go to breezy-size.flywheelsites.com, click the app store icon to subscribe.
This is John Saboe the publisher of Far East Adventure Travel Magazine and I want to send out a warm welcome to the countries that have joined us this week, Australia, The U.K., Germany, Canada, USA, Vietnam, Sweden, Taiwan, and Jordan, Thank you so much for listening. This week I continue with more on Camel Trekking in The Thar Desert.
Last week I just briefly touched on arranging a camel trek. Today I want to talk about it a little more.
There are several options for booking a trek in Jaisalmer, the capital of camel trekking in Rajasthan, India. Depending on you tolerance for being outdoors you should book according to your level of adventure. If you just want to get a feel for the desert and do a light trip, then a one night trek should satisfy. You will probably spend a total of 4 or 5 hours on the camel which should be enough if you just want the experience of camel riding and a general feel of the whole idea of being in the desert. Some of this trip will include some rides in a jeep to get you in and out of the desert quicker.
If you really want a better understanding of what it’s like to feel nomadic, dependant on camels for your well-being, traveling through rural villages, sleeping under the stars and becoming apart of nature …then a minimum of 3 nights is recommended. This is all negotiable with your camel trekking company. I took a 3 night 4 day trek. I would do a longer one next time and try to get further into the desert. Most camel adventure companies will also give you the option to end your trek early on the fourth day. Keep in mind, you will not get a refund of any kind, and unfortunately the camel guide does not get a full day’s pay. This is their way of getting more out of your trip.
So to this date a one night camel safari can go anywhere from 1000-1500 Indian rupees, or up to approximately $30USD. More if you want beer, rice pudding, and other treats. These safaris are definitely filled with more comforts with jeeps doing runs out to the dunes to bring the extras. You’re trekking is fairly light as well. The first day you will be driven several miles or kilometers out into the desert where you will meet your camel guide and the camels. From there you will have a 1.5 hour ride to the dunes, where you’ll stay the night. The next day another couple of hours back where you’ll meet the jeep and drive back to Jaisalmer. This really is a great trip to get a taste of what’s it’s all about. A fun adventure.
Now a multi day safari, as I said before is really going to give you a more authentic feeling of life on the desert. The trip itself can be tailored to how much riding you want to do. My inn set up my trip for me and they knew I was interested in something a little more authentic. So we left Jaisalmer from the inn on camels, riding through the outskirts of the city, past the army barracks, the airport and into the desert. The first day of riding was over 8 hours. Very painful, but incredibly authentic.
A multi day trip can run you anywhere from 500-1000 rupees a day. Just a word of caution, compare everything, not just the price. Some trips include everything, some don’t. Some will take you to remote areas where you won’t meet other tourists, on other treks you will find yourself on a tourist trail. The Sam Dunes are the busiest and very touristy. The Khuri Dunes used to be touristy, but not so much now. When I went I stayed the first night on the Khuri Dunes. We met one or two other small groups. I did not see any other tourists for the rest of the trip.
I would love to go back and get further into the desert. This desert is not like the deserts of North Africa with long, long stretches of dunes. There is a lot of flat ground with scrub, occasionally you will come across some dunes, there are also giant windmills everywhere. It doesn’t sound as romantic, but it’s still an amazing experience. I wasn’t expecting the feelings that I was overcome with on this trip. Genuine feelings of a connection back to nature and the universe. And a strong connection with the camels and being a nomad. My strongest memory of Rajasthan.
The last day of my trek we arrived near a small village and farm in the late afternoon. Gunput, my guide picked a field for us to make camp. We were immediately joined by some of the children of the village. Don’t ever expect to have much time to yourself in India, just embrace the company you will almost always have. Gunput suggested I start taking pictures of them. They would really appreciate the interaction and would love to see their images after.
One of the elder’s from the farm joined us for some Chai by the fire Gunput had started.He wore a big red turban, a big smile between the turban and his white beard. He laughed and told us about how is daughter in law was mad at him for encouraging his 7 year old grandson to stay at home and not go to school. He told us that he never went to school and turned out fine, he eat’s all the time and owns land.
Later more men from the village joined us. Gunput brought out the desert whisky. Every corner I have been to in Asia has their own desert whisky, or moonshine, grain alcohol. The desert whisky was distilled from a tree that grows in the Thar Desert.
We were all laughing and having a good time. I could see that Gunput was well liked and respected. I asked him what they were talking about. The men were mostly speaking Hindi. Gunput translated that they thought I was very kind to have them join us and they wanted to make me a brother. One of the men sitting across from me at the fire pulled out some string a began to tie it around my left wrist.
I was then declared a brother. They said when I return, which I told them would be in a year, they would have a party in my honour and kill a goat. I don’t eat meat but I didn’t want to damper the spirit that was so strong so I agreed that would be a good idea.
If you go on a camel safari I can’t guarantee you an experience like this, but I hope you are as lucky as I was. The laughing, the spirit and camaraderie that I shared with these men, who I would most likely never see again was completely geniune. Sitting in front of the campfire drinking desert whiskey under the stars in The Thar Desert, talking about life. We were from completely different worlds yet we were able to share this experience together with the help of my camel guide Gunput. One of my favourite memories from Rajasthan.
Read all about Camel Trekking in The Thar Desert, with images and video and more thoughts from my trip in the latest issue of Far East Adventure Travel Magazine-available on the iTunes new stand. Go to the app store, search Far East Adventure Travel and download the app to subscribe. You can also sign up for the free Far East Adventure Travel newsletter-this month 5 great tips for getting the most out of your smartphone on your next adventure. Go to breezy-size.flywheelsites.com and sign up today.
Thats it for this week’s edition of Far East Adventure Travel-The Podcast. Next week, trekking in restricted Upper Mustang Region of Nepal.
Until then this is John Saboe-Namaste, and safe travels!
I am a broadcaster, photographer, writer and videographer with a passion for travel throughout Asia. I love making connections and engaging with people. I am spiritual and seek adventure wherever I go.
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