The bus from Jaipur to Jaisalmer was a different experience then what I had expected but quite frankly I had no idea what to expect! We paid a relative premium and got a double bed type room at the back of the bus, which was surprisingly spacious. Once we made our way through the hustle and bustle of the Jaipur evening bus station, the cabin seemed to be pleasantly peaceful. My two tips would be, if you have a lying down bed type room on the sleeper bus, ignore the men standing at the front of then bus who say you need to pay 30 rupees to put your bag under the bus. There is more then enough room for you and your bag in your section and it’s rather disconcerting to give all your worldly possessions to an un-uniformed man standing at the front of the bus claiming you need to pay him for this luxury. Also, book a room at the back. I had to swap for a front room shortly into the journey and it’s difficult to sleep when people look in or try to get into your room at every stop, this doesn’t happen at the back as much. All in all it wasn’t a great nights sleep but the whole process was a lot less painful then I had expected and sleeper buses are a very viable option.
We soon arrived to our destination and there was a noticeable difference in the temperature in Jaisalmer, the desert heat was much less forgiving then in the other parts of Rajasthan. We found our hostel and rested before heading out. Jaisalmer is quite a small town built around a fort, you can walk around the outside of the fort in about 20 minutes, which we did. We then found a place to eat called Monica’s, which is recommended by a lot of locals and easy to find. The food is great and reasonably priced.
Above: Foyer of the Moustache hostel in Jaisalmer. Below: the Jaisalmer Fort at night.
We came to Jaisalmer, as all tourists do, for the camel safari. We spoke to the hostel owner and he told us his family did camel safari’s in a small village where he grew up, about 40 minutes drive from the hostel. It seemed nice to see where this man had grown up, and his prices were very reasonable, so we took him up on the offer.
We woke up just after 8am to eat, prepare and start the short drive to the town where the safari would begin. We were greeted by the friendly faces of our tour guides and then introduced to our camel’s. My camel was called Curra, which was apparently short for Currathangreptranha (or something like that). Since I couldn’t pronounce or remember any of that I just called him Max, which he seemed to like. Max and I really hit it off and I could see this would be a long and fruitful relationship. We started with an hours ride and then stopped for lunch and a rest, which we needed more then the camels. It turns out the saddles don’t provide much comfort for the human behind. Our guides made us chai teas and lunch while we chatted in the midday heat. The camels were free to graze during all this but did have short ropes tied around their feet, to make sure they didn’t wander to far. Which I wasn’t thrilled by, but I can understand the necessity.
Above: Starting our safari. Below: Max and I stopping for lunch
Above: Taking off for the second leg
We avoided most of the heat and started our second leg of the trip. This was a slightly longer trip to the dunes where we would be camping. The desert silence was mixed in with some conversation, the odd antelope or lizard sighting and Disney tunes being played from a bluetooth speaker from the back of the camel line. This made the more painful two hour ride slightly more manageable. I also managed to convince the guides that I was in fact a seasoned camel rider so I was able to take the reigns and Max and I were free to wander the desert! The added bonus being that I didn’t like seeing his reigns yanked around every five seconds so I was able to give Max the smooth ride he deserved.
Once we arrived at the dunes we set up camp and the guides started preparing food. The camels were again free to roam and eat the bushes, but still with the ropes around their front feet. The best way I can describe it would be seeing someone trying to walk with their trousers around their ankles. Free, but not quite. The food was again really tasty, but it came with something that we effectionatly began calling, the desert crunch. Hard to cook a meal in the desert without a little sand getting involved, no?
Above: Stopping for the night at the dunes. Kasey Marie and Shoogy in shot. Below: Desert sunset
We slept on raised beds above the sand which was reasonably comfortable but also managed to keep us away from the large black beetles that appreared in hordes as soon as the sun went down. They were harmless but equally annoying. That night was the first time I had seen stars in India as it seemed this was the only place without a smog cloud or light pollution. The night did get a little cold but there is nothing nicer then falling asleep under the stars. We woke up to the sunrise and had a brief breakfast. We collected and saddled up the camels and began our hour trip back to the village.
Above: saying our goodbyes.
We arrived back before our pick up cars and said our goodbyes to our travel companions. Once the jeeps arrived, to cheer myself up I asked if I could drive, which the guide was surprisingly happy to let me do. You might be able to catch that clip in the highlights film! All in all a good experience and I would recommend it to anyone but maybe just once. I don’t want to put Max under too much strain after all!