Jaisalmer, the golden city
Jaisalmer, located in the depths of the Thar desert if one of the oldest and most beautiful fort cities in the world. This stunning desertscape of sandstone buildings will transport you back into the depths of time. Nestled around the foot of the ancient Jaisalmer fort, the city has stood for longer than most of the countries of the world have existed. Established in 1156 AD, Jaisalmer is today the best place in India to take a camel safari into the desert.
Where is Jaisalmer & how to reach it
Jaisalmer is in the far East of Rajasthan, next to the Pakistan border. There is no danger however when visiting this part of India as the border regions are sparsely populated. Jaisalmer is connected to all of the major road networks of the state and also has a regular train service which passes through daily. The closest airport is near the city of Jodhpur which is around 275 kilometers away. The Jodhpur airport is connected with both domestic and international flights, so there will be no trouble reaching Jaisalmer by air. Other than flying, the most convenient and comfortable way to reach this desert city is by train.
Where to stay
Arriving by train into Jaisalmer station, you will be met by many hotel owners offering rooms to travelers. There is never a shortage of beds available, as the city relies on the tourism industry. Many travelers flock to Jaisalmer to embark on a camel safari, which has become the number one draw for the golden city.
There are many homestays, guesthouses, hotels, hostels and even desert camps. If you are a budget traveler you can find a room for as little as 300 Rupees ($4). If you are looking for something a little more exotic then head out into the desert. Here you can stay the night at one of the camps where you will see up close the culture of Rajasthan. Here is some great information by the website Tripsavvy, on which are the best desert camps to stay. Best desert camps
If you would like to learn more about the costs of traveling in India, have a read of another one of our excellent articles on India. We hope this will answer any and all of your questions. India travel budget: The costs
Also if you are thinking of traveling to the magical desert of Rajasthan, have a read of our travel guide. Here are just a handful of the spectacular places this state has to offer. Rajasthan: Where to visit
Jaisalmer camel safari
Choosing your safari
Choosing your camel safari can get a little difficult. This is because there are quite a few companies who run safaris. You will not be surprised to hear that all of them call themselves the best camel safari in Jaisalmer. If you check out Tripadvisor you will be able to see which companies offer the best tours. Best Camel Safaris: (Tripadvisor) Have a read of all of the reviews and see what others have said. Do some research and pick whichever one you think is the best.
how much does it cost?
One of the most incredible things about taking a camel safari in Jaisalmer, is the price. A three day, two night safari costs between 1500 ($23) and 2500 Rupees ($38), depending on the time of year, and also which company you choose. This will include all of your food and water for three days. Also your camels, guides, and transportation to and from the desert. For everything involved, this is an incredible price and just another reason to visit this incredible place.
Being a desert, Rajasthan can get incredibly hot during the summer months. For this reason, it is better to visit during the winter. Here is our article on the best time to visit India. If you are planning your trip, make sure you will not be cooked by the sweltering sun, or drowned by the monsoon rains. Best time to visit India: The weather
What to expect
Your day will start with breakfast on a rooftop restaurant of one of the hotels in the fort. Here you will eat breakfast and meet the other members of your tour. That is if you have not taken a private safari. The average tour size is around five people.
It is possible to leave all of your belongings here at the hotel in a locked room. The hotels reputation would be tarnished is a guests belongings were stolen while away on Safari. So you can leave your things here without worrying.
After breakfast, you will climb into a jeep and drive to a small rural village where you will meet the family who will be your guides. They are the owners of the camels and will be responsible for you out in the desert.
Once you have been introduced to your guides and everything is packed and ready for your adventure, you will be introduced to your camel. First and foremost you must see whether you like the feel of your new friend, and most important of all, that the came likes the feel of you.
There is always time for a camel selfie
Your adventure begins
Once everything is packed and stowed on the camels, it is time for you to begin. Now, after all of the talk about what a great experience this is. And also a once in a lifetime adventure, let us just state that riding a camel can be a pain in the ass, literally. Every so often you must get off and stretch your legs, otherwise your trip will become unbearable.
Your meals will be cooked for you by your guides on an open fire in the desert, wherever it is that you choose to stop. Normally this is a meal of curry and vegetables and freshly cooked naan bread. Also you will have as much chai (Indian tea) as you can drink.
The people of the desert
During the safari, you will also get to visit some traditional villages and see how life in the desert truly is. Seeing how these people live their lives, you will get a glimpse of how it has been for thousands of years.
In the traditional villages of India, the people still live close to their animals
A look at a typical village in the Thar desert
What to take with you into the desert
You will want to take plenty of suncream into the desert and also a pair of sunglasses. In the Thar desert it is very easy to get burnt. A pair of sandals or flip flops will fare you better than boots or trainers. You do not want to be continually emptying sand out of your footwear. At night however you should wear a pair of socks because it does get quite cold. For this reason, take a jacket and some long pants also.
You will be given blankets and pillows to sleep on the sand, they are included in the price of your camel safari. Sleeping under the stars is a beautiful thing. Make sure you wake up in the middle of the night to see the milkyway in its full glory.
Do not forget to take your camera with a fully charged battery. You will have nowhere to recharge your electronics, so if you do not wish to miss taking pictures of your journey, have a spare battery or use your device sparingly.
What to be aware of
Although you are out in the desert and you feel a long way from civilisation. Be aware that things have been known to go missing in the desert at night. On most safaris there is never a problem, but you should always make sure you sleep close to your belongings. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Another thing to be aware of is scorpions and giant beetles. The giant beetles will do you no home other than a painful bite. The scorpions however should be avoided. For this reason always keep your sandals or flip flops on your feet.
Feeding time for the camels
One final thing to be aware of is chafing. As we said earlier, riding camels can be a little painful, especially if you have never ridden an animal before. If you feel your legs getting sore, get off and have a walk. You do not want to be stuck out in the desert with chafed thighs.
Leaving the desert
On the third day you will finally leave the desert. Around noon, you will slowly make your way to the guides village from where you started. Here you will eat with their family, one last meal. They will ask how was your time and then maybe ask you for a tip. It is up to you to decide whether you should give a tip or not. If you had a great time, a couple of hundred rupees will be a nice gift to the family.
Once you have had your lunch, you will climb into a jeep and head back to Jaisalmer to the hotel where you left your belongings. Once you reach the fort and collect your stuff, your camel safari will finally be over.
A few shots from both inside and outside of this wondrous place.
Everybody should visit India at least once in their life. This is a country which will teach you how to be both humble and grateful. It is not for nothing that for the past fifty years people have traveled to India to “find themselves”. For those that have never traveled here, they can never truly understand what that means. Only by visiting this magical country will your eyes truly be opened. If you are thinking of visiting, but do not know where to begin. Read this article, it will show you step-by-step, how to plan your trip to India. Step by step: how to plan your trip to India
Also, here is another information packed article on India. Like all countries, India has its fair share of scams that are pulled on its tourists. If you read up on everything that could happen, you will have a far better time and be much less likely to have any bad experiences. Scams in India to watch out for
Have you visited Jaisalmer?
Have you been on a camel safari in Jaisalmer? If you have then, we would love to hear your thoughts. If you think that we have missed anything, by all means comment below and let us know. We would also like to hear of your experiences in the city and if you enjoyed it as much as we did.