Like probably every other visitor to Jaisalmer, I did a camel safari. Mine was just over a day.
There were five of us. A jeep took us first to Kuldhara, which looked in pretty good nick for an abandoned village. It was established by the Brahmins (the priestly caste) in the 13th century and abandoned 600 years later. No one knows why but theories include persecution by the state’s minister, loss of water supply, and an earthquake. It’s believed to be haunted, possibly only by tourists who are told that for local entertainment.
Our second stop was at an oasis to let the camels drink. They can slurp up 80 litres in ten minutes!
Finally, after a total of about four hours on the camel, we stopped for lunch. Lunch was made over a fire and was basic and flavoursome.
After the three hour lunch break – elongated to avoid the early afternoon sun – we rode for another two hours before reaching the sand dunes, our destination for the day.
The sand dunes are soothing to sit and watch; it was my first experience of them. It was also my first camel ride. Apart from an elephant ride in Sri Lanka at an elephant conservation place and probably the odd donkey ride at the fairground when young, I’ve hardly been on an animal. My conclusion is that I’m a feet-on-the-ground kind of person!
That said, I mostly enjoyed the ride. The organisers provided sufficient padding to keep our bums comfortable.
We had another fire-cooked meal in the evening then sat around a camp fire to stop us freezing. I didn’t realise how stark the temperature contrast is between day and evening.
Finally we slept in a sort of shelter that had a roof and wind-stop. They provided sleeping bags and extra blankets. I slept well.
The following day, after breakfast, we were on the camels for about an hour before meeting our jeep to return us to our hotel.
Camels are strange. If they didn’t exist, no one would dream them up! They are fine in hot and cold weather; have three sets of eyelids and eight sets of eye-lashes; occasionally dangle what looks like a long floppy tongue out but is a soft palate; have the weirdest way of sitting down; and are able to remember routes. I asked another tourist, who didn’t have anyone guiding her, how she knew the route. She replied, she didn’t – the camel knew where we were going!
Possibly my favourite part of the trip was when I saw one of the camels in the early cold morning sitting down and chewing something. I approached him and he stopped chewing. When he seemed comfortable and started chewing again, I got closer and started stroking him. After a few minutes, he stopped chewing and lay his head and neck down flat on the ground as I gave him a hug. One of our guides saw this and took a photo.