Trip Start Sep 27, 2009
122Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
On the sand
We got a jeep at half 7 and met the other guy who was on the safari too, Ken from Liverpool who was a really great guy. We got a jeep for an hour and stopped twice along the way to see two Jain temples in the middle of the desert which were pretty impressive. After an hour we arrived in the desert and met our guide and camels. The guide was called Ali who was 20 and had been doing camel safari since he was 10! There were 3 camels, the biggest was called Charlie so Chris was partnered with him as Chris was the heaviest, Em was with Lucky as he was the smallest and Ken was with Rocket. The camels carry all the camping and cooking equipment as well as us and are steered with a rope attached to a bar in their noses.
We headed off, the way the camels stand up was pretty scary at first as they throw you up in the air but we soon got used to it. Within the first half an hour we had wondered what we had let ourselves in for as it was not a smooth ride, our bums were starting to kill already. We rode for about 3 hours at first and the desert was really relaxing. There was no-one else in sight and all you could see was desert for miles around wherever you looked, it was a mixture of sand and scrub. We stopped for lunch about 1 and Ali wouldn't let us lift a finger. He prepared a meal of chai, veg masala and chapatis, all from scratch and it tasted great. While we were eating lunch the camels are let off their reins and go and eat their lunch and then Ali has the mission of finding them again after lunch and it was always lucky that went missing!
After lunch we got back on the camels and traveled for another couple of hours stopping at wells so the camels could drink, before reaching camp for the night. The camp was amazing, it was in the middle of a sand dune so there was just golden sand everywhere you looked, it was only 30km from the Pakistan border. A beer man came out of nowhere and sold us all some beers so we just chilled on the sand dune drinking beer watching the sun go down which was awesome and so relaxing. As the sun went down on the other side of the sky the moon started rising too.
Our second guide then showed up called Ramda who was an older guy who had been doing safaris for 20 years. They prepared us some more chai, veg curry, rice and chapattis for dinner and we all sat around the fire chatting. We started listening to some of Ali's Indian music then he played us the one English song he had which was 'wonderwall' it was such a surreal moments as we all chilled out singing along to oasis in the middle of a desert. Ali was telling us how he has been saving up for years to buy his own camel, they only cost around 250 pound so was strange to think that had taken him so long and he was still only half way, it just shows you how little Indians get paid over here, 9% of all Indians live on less than 100 rupees a week!
Just before bed the camels were given their dinner and tied up for the night just below our camp. Our 'camp' consisted of a blanket to sleep on, a blanket to cover you and our bags as pillows. It was still pretty comfy but our main concern was the dung beetles. They are huge black beetles that are everywhere and are really scratchy when they crawl on you and they can poo on you eukk! They were horrible so we spent all night completely covered head to toe with a blanket so they couldn't crawl on us! The sky was full of stars and the moon was so bright it lit up the whole sky, it was an awesome experience camping in the desert under the stars.
Next morning we were up for sunrise and had breakfast of eggs, toast and chai before packing up camp and setting off into the desert. Our bums were so sore from the day before so it was pretty painful getting back on the camels, the seats are on the camels spine so you really feel every movement and there are no stirrups so all the shock goes straight to your bum but it soon goes numb and you forget about it. We were so happy we had opted for a non tourist safari as we didn't see another tourist the whole time and it was so quiet and peaceful. We stopped for lunch after about 3 hours and chilled out in the shade as it was so hot, about 35oC but there is no escape from the heat when you are riding the camels so it gets really hot. After lunch we all played cards and had a relax before heading off again. Em was complaining about her sore bum when Ali revealed that lucky actually had stirrups!!! They had been there the whole time but was a life saver for Em as they made the ride so much smoother as your legs take all the shock instead of your bum.
After another 3 hours riding we arrived at another sand dune for the nights camp and pretty much did the same drill as the night before, watched the sun go down, sat around chatting, drinking beers and playing cards. At night not only did we have to worry about the dung beetles we also had a new addition of the scorpion which was found right next to Ems pillow!!! Ali killed it but was pretty scary. The camels slept really close to us this night and we could hear them munching all night as they bring back up their food and you could hear them farting all night which was quite entertaining.
Next morning we saw another beautiful sun rise, had breakfast and our last 4 hours on a camel. The last stretch was busier as we passed through a couple of villages so were waving to the locals but were glad it was the finally stretch as we were all in agony! We stopped for lunch and then waited for our jeep to take us back to Jaisalmer. The guides were brilliant, so friendly and they really looked after us and made it great fun. The desert was such a relaxing place and was just what we needed after so many cities ad the camels were quality. Chris camel Charlie was exactly like Chris, he was really greedy as he wouldn't stop eating all day and wouldn't stop farting either!! Lucky was great though and really friendly as Em wouldn't stop stroking him all the time, she has a new love for camels now!
All in all it was a brilliant experience, the highlight of India so far and we had a great time.