Adventure Sports : Camel Safaris


Rajasthan, India's westernmost state is the very essence of exotic India. You can see Rajasthan on a jeep safari. Or, if you've a penchant for the high life, aboard the "Palace on Wheels", the luxury train. But to really get a hands-on feel of the desert state, nothing comes close to a camel safari. Climb up on one of these seemingly ungainly beasts, hang on for dear life, and let the good times roll, for the Ship of the Desert walks in a way which would certainly remind any sailor of a rolling, pitching deck in turbulent waters!

When to go - Winters are the best time for a camel safari. Rajasthan's summers are almost unbearably hot and dry, so going on a camel safari during this time is virtually impossible. November to March, when days are cool (and nights cold!) is when most camel safaris are organised.

What to bring - Woollens are a necessary part of packing. Desert nights can get very cold, so it's essential to take along warm sweaters and jackets. Although mattresses are usually provided by whoever's organising the camel safari, you'll need to carry bedding - a warm sleeping bag is recommended. During the daytime, the sun can be blistering, so make sure you get your hat, a pair of sunglasses and sunscreen lotion. Carry a first aid kit along with you, as well as any other essentials you might need - out there in the desert, trying to find a shop can be a problem. It's a good idea to carry along extra blankets to cover the wooden saddle, which you'll probably be sitting on. Blankets are excellent padding, and can protect you from a sore bottom after a hard day's riding.


Important Tips

Getting there - Most camel safaris start from Jaisalmer, which is connected by air, train and road to the rest of India. Rajasthan's capital, Jaipur, is also a convenient base for exploring the state, whether on camel or otherwise. Jaipur has a well-connected airport, as well as regular train and bus links to a number of cities across India. All camel-safari towns in Rajasthan, such as Bikaner and Mandawa, are connected by road to Jaipur. Buses run between all the major towns of the state, and private cars or taxis can be hired to do the trip.

Drink plenty of water, at least 2 to 4 litres a day, to prevent dehydration and keep yourself well covered, to prevent sunburn.Wear a sunhat and sun glasses and slap on the suntan lotion if you don't want your skin to start peeling. Use a good sunscreen with high SPF.

Rajasthan, although it's fast getting as commercialised as any other part of India, still is pretty unspoilt - especially as far as the desert is concerned. Keep it that way; please don't leave a trail of junk behind you or harm the ecology and culture of this beautiful region.


Fundamental facts

A large number of travel agents and tour operators in Rajasthan organise camel safaris. Most of these are in the vicinity of Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Ossian and Khimsar, and stretch from anywhere between 2 to 7 days, with longer ones of up to a month. Shorter, daylong camel safaris, which just about give you a glimpse of the desert, are also organised. The majority of camel safaris start from the desert fort town of Jaisalmer.

In most cases, one camel is provided per person, and a camel cart accompanies the entourage, laden with food, utensils and other supplies; it's also an option for anyone who gets sick of sitting on a lurching camel. Tents, food, mineral water, mattresses and an escort are invariably provided, and most operators will also make sure you get a full dose of local entertainment in the evenings. For longer camel safaris, which cover a few days, camps are usually set up at night in the vicinity of villages.