Jaisalmer – the ‘Golden City of India’, is an absolute must when planning your journey through India.
Located in the western state of Rajasthan, Jaisalmer is the largest city, not just in terms of area, but also in terms of experiences you can expect.
Surrounded by glistening yellow sands that have often been romantically compared to glistening gold, the city is known to offer a range of activities that appeal to a vast audience.
History lovers, architecture fanatics, culture enthusiasts, adrenalin junkies – pretty much every field of travel interest finds takers in Jaisalmer!
Things to know before planning your Jaisalmer Desert Safari.
You’ll have plenty to look forward on your travels through Jaisalmer.
And if you’re the kind who can easily adapt to somewhat harsh climates and long days, you’ll love every bit of your time here.
But don’t let this deter you in any way (the harsh climate bit!).
If you’re up to to a heady dose of adventure, Jaisalmer promises to offer it all, and in style and comfort too (for the not so ‘daring’ travellers).
Popular the world over for its stunning Sam Sand Dunes that stretch out over the mighty Thar Desert, the very best way to experience the vastness and magnanimity of the desert is on a Jaisalmer Desert Safari!
Experience the Thar Desert on a Jaisalmer Desert Safari
Faint-hearted fellow travellers fear not! Don’t let the sound of a ‘ Jaisalmer desert safari’ deter you in any way!
While safaris are usually associated with lush green jungles and animals on the prowl, a desert safari is an entirely different, albeit unique experience that you can only encounter, well, in a desert!
And where better to experience this than Jaisalmer – where a desert safari brings together a plethora of experiences; a kind of merging together of nature, adventure, culture, and an amazing amount of fun!
So what’s all the fuss about?
You might ask. Well, to begin with, a desert safari offers you an unmatched experience of living in a desert, under a blanket of stars, with miles and miles of open expanses of sand around you.
Days are hot, but you have sturdy tents to protect you from the harsh heat.
Evenings and nights grow cooler and often cold. And don’t worry – if you’re not up to spending a couple of days in the desert, you can always opt for an ‘express safari’ – one that offers you a glimpse of what a desert safari is all about!
How Long Should You Spend On Desert Safari in Jaisalmer?
While a few travellers lean towards spending about two nights on a desert safari, the one-night camping experience is the most popular. But there are tours available all the way up to 21 days.
But do remember – Jaisalmer has a lot more to offer in addition to a desert safari with Jaisalmer Desert Festival being a must-visit.
So plan on spending a couple of days in the cities, of which its best to set aside one night and two days, or two nights and three days for your desert safari experience.
When´s The Best Time To Go on Desert Safri In The Thar Desert.
Make sure you book your safari a couple of weeks in advance, especially if you plan on visiting during high tourist season (November to February).
A lot of tourist companies specialise in desert safaris; you have no dearth of options! And don’t fret about not knowing what to expect – nearly every company offers the same inclusions.
The only differing aspects will relate to how much you pay, and the levels of luxury you can expect.
What´s the day like on a Desert Safari?
Let’s go with a regular one-night two-day desert safari experience.
Your tour company picks you up from your hotel by jeep and drives you to the outskirts of the desert.
You’ll be given a list of what to carry beforehand, so pack accordingly! From jeeps, you’ll have the ship of desert awaiting your arrival.
It’s best to go solo when on a camel – and hold on tight when you get on and off the camel. Listen to the instructions of your camel guide – you’ll have camel guide with you on the camel, or he might just walk alongside the camel.
Avoid having a big meal prior to your camel ride.
The forward-backwards motion of the camel can make you feel slightly dizzy for the first couple of minutes, but then you get used to this comforting rhythmic motion of swaying left to right, forward and backwards.
The camels stride into the desert and continue walking for anywhere from an hour to two and a half hours, depending on where your camp is.
You’ll stop midway to witness gorgeous sunsets, dune bashing and soaking in the desert.
Camel stops are planned – you’ll have hawkers selling bits and bobs, musicians to regale tourists, and even someone selling chilled beer in some places!
After this brief stop, you’ll hop back onto your ride, and head to the campsite where you get to spend an evening and night under the stars.
The campsites are equipped with tents to sleep in, although the best experience is to camp out under the stars!
You get to make use of comfy bedding along with plenty of blankets to keep you warm on those cold desert nights.
Dinners are a highlight, and come accompanied with traditional Rajasthani music and dance performances out in the open!
If there is one memory you’ll hold close to your heart – it’s sitting under a canopy of stars, listening to folk tunes, surrounded by vast expanses of the desert.
It’s an experience that is pretty tough to match up to.
And the food is traditional, although it’s pretty toned down to cater to varied palettes. But it’s wise to carry something light as a backup, just in case!
Mornings tend to get chilly, and you’ll be awoken to a steaming hot cup of tea, and stunning views of the desert before you.
Now is a great time to take a walkabout (don’t venture too far) for pictures. After breakfast (again, avoid eating too much), you get to collect your things, hop onto your camel, and head back to the city!
Keep in mind:
The fancier (read – more expensive) safaris include Swiss tents with attached washrooms. But for a more rustic experience, when nature calls, desert bushes are your best friend.
Pack light. Just what your wearing, and perhaps a jacket or a shawl. Don’t forget your sunnies, lots of sunscreens, a big hat or cap, and a scarf.
Leave all your expensive belongings in your hotel room, and just carry basics like a little money, your camera, phone, some snacks and basic first aid (although most companies carry first aid).
You are never too far from the city, so in case of an emergency, you can always head back to civilisation with a guide.
Food is local – so be prepared!
Always keep your belongings in sight.
Camels can be difficult at times, although the guides know how to handle them. Hold on tight when getting on or off a camel. And wait till the camel has halted completely and is seated before you attempt to get on or off!
Do your research about what travel company you use.
Doing proper research about which travel company to use is essential for you to have a good time in That Desert. More or less every hotel/guesthouses and travel agents in Jaisalmer will try to sell you a desert safari trip while the prices may only vary a few dollars for the tour, but the difference in quality can be enormous, and be sure to ask what the travel companies offer after the desert safari is done can be a big difference.
The cheapest trips will probably not include anything besides the camel ride and the food during the trip, while the better company’s offers, free use of a hotel room with a hot shower and a bed where you can rest to your train or bus leaves in the evening.
My Experience with a Jaisalmer Desert Safari.
I’ve been on my fair share of safaris over the years, from Jeep safaris in Africa to Elephant Safaris in North East India.
I’ve been on boat safaris in the world’s largest mangrove forest (to look for the Bengal Tiger), and I’ve also been on two Camel safaris, once in China and another one in Northern Africa.
All of these safari experiences have been a lot of fun. However, the Jaisalmer Desert safari was something else; it was mind-numbingly boring. I don’t care how little you will pay for this “Safari”; it’s a complete ripoff. However, you put it.
If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand. Milton Friedman
I should have known what I was getting into when everyone I talked to in my guesthouse (except the stoners) said they wouldn’t have done it again and the “alarm” should definitely have sounded when I discovered the people who were doing a two night/three-day safari were walking on foot instead of riding their camels.
There´s also possible to do camel safaris from Pushkar. Here can you read what Emily thought about the desert safari there.
Despite all of this, and since I’m such a polite person (most of the time) and my friends asked me if I wanted to join them for a “Safari”, I decided to go. Surely it can’t be that bad. I was reassured by the fact I’d enjoyed my previous Camel Safaris, but this was a poor decision, a very poor decision.
The trip starts off with an hour-long to visit a “traditional” village where our guide showed us around the village with information on its main economy; dried Cow shit, dried Camel shit, and if you’re very lucky you might even get to see some dried donkey shit – I shit you not (pun intended)!
Now before you jump to the comment section to inform me that I used an unreliable company and that you had a life-changing experience during your trip to the desert, I’d like to tell you that the company I used is rated top three on TripAdvisor and highly recommend by Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and most of the other big guidebooks out there.
So let’s return to the boring Camel trip. I didn’t even bother to take out my camera once while riding the Camel, which says a lot. After looking at different types of animal faeces, we drove to where we would meet the camels and start the “adventure”.
There were four other groups of tourists going on the exciting trip, one of the groups even returned to Jaisalmer that evening by car.
The oldest person in that group, a Scottish gentleman put it out nicely before they left “Life is too short to go back with the Camels”.
There was only one person who seemed to enjoy the Camel ride, that person the smartest person on the trip for they arrived prepared with a bottle of rum. Drinking rum, smoking buddies and listening to music while the rest of us were bored. Unfortunately, he didn’t share his secret weapons… German!
If you believe you will ride trough vast, desolate deserts, think again. You will ride next to windmills, huge freaking windmills, across the tarmac highway, only the last twenty minutes involved riding through the sand dunes. But not everything you see is this disappointing, the food is great, and both the sunset and sunrise are stunning.
Sunrise with a camel and sporty girl doing yoga during sunrise.
But the highlight of the trip was by far when the “beer man” arrived with ice-cold beer for sunset; he didn’t arrive on camel himself (beer would never be cold then) but with a Nissan Micra! Yes!
The camp spot is not a remote sand dune under the stars; it’s a tiny sand dune next to a parking lot.