Why do you want to visit Rajasthan? Amazing palaces to explore. Beautiful and vibrant culture. Shopping , Thar Desert.
No matter what your reasons are, one of them is bound to include an experience in the desert. And when it comes to desert camps in Rajasthan, the most popular place in Jaisalmer. The numerous Jaisalmer desert camps offer an exotic combination of thrill, adventure, and culture that promise to make your desert stay memorable.
I was quite overwhelmed with the plethora of options that I found for the desert camps in Jaisalmer. Should I book one day or two days? Camel safari in Jaisalmer – good or bad? Desert National Camp – Sam Dunes or Khuri? In the end, I just went with the traveler reviews of Tripadvisor. The result was a mix of good and bad. However, that experience helped me put together a checklist for the Jaisalmer Desert camps.
This guide to the desert camps in Jaisalmer is divided into two parts. The first part is about what are the different activities that you can do in any of the Jaisalmer Desert Camps. The 2nd part deals with the various tips to select the best desert camp in Jaisalmer – all based on my own research and experience.
- 1 What to experience in a Jaisalmer Desert Camp?
- 1.1 Experience the Sunset and Sunrise over the dunes
- 1.2 Camel Safari in Jaisalmer
- 1.3 Dune Bashing with a jeep safari in Jaisalmer
- 1.4 Folk dances and music
- 1.5 Count the stars over the dunes
- 1.6 Parasailing in the desert camps of Jaisalmer
- 1.7 Pit stops enroute to the Thar desert
- 1.8 Taste the local Rajasthani food in the Jaisalmer Desert camps
- 2 Tips to select the right Jaisalmer Desert Camp.
- 2.1 Best time for a desert camp in Jaisalmer
- 2.2 Best location for a Jaisalmer Desert Camp
- 2.3 Ideal duration of your desert camp
- 2.4 Drops and Pick-ups for the Jaisalmer Desert Camps
- 2.5 Tips for a Jaisalmer Camel Safari
- 2.6 Packing checklist for the desert camps in Rajasthan
- 2.7 Food considerations & choices
- 2.8 Where to book the Jaisalmer desert camps?
- 3 How to get to Jaisalmer?
- 4 Booking resources
What to experience in a Jaisalmer Desert Camp?
A desert camp in Rajasthan offers you a wide variety of experiences. Some focus on the cultural nuances of the state while there are others that showcase the best of the arid desert. You can choose to embark on some adrenaline-pumping activities or make heritage pit-stop during your safari. Here is a quick list of the things to do on a desert safari in Jaisalmer.
Experience the Sunset and Sunrise over the dunes
Watching the sun rise or even set over the ocean or the mountains is something that we all would have experienced. But watching the sun move across the horizon while sitting on those sand dunes will leave you with a very different feeling. I loved feeling the little grain of sand hitting my face and capturing the artistic silhouettes of the camel caravans in the distance.
Camel Safari in Jaisalmer
His long lashes fluttered at me and I lost my heart to my new furry friend.
Raja nudged me with his nose, as I patted the gentle ship of the desert. He looked happy sitting there and waiting for his new ride. Camels have long been the lifeline of the desert travelers. During the times of silk route, they carried huge loads across the dunes and these days, they are largely used for tourism purposes.
Camel Safari in Jaisalmer is of two types – the short ones that are used just to give tourists a feel of the desert and the long rides that actually take you far into the desert to remote villages. The shorter ones are pure entertainment that you can avoid if you wish to – especially in the touristy camps. However, the long Jaisalmer camel safaris take you beyond the touristy desert camps to the authentic ones. Here you actually need the camel.
Ethical concerns about Camel Safaris in Jaisalmer
I admit that I did ride a camel in Jaisalmer but as is the case with every evolving traveler, I have been questioning my choice – largely given the ethical concerns about how they are treated. Tons of places like Thailand, Sri Lanka, and even India have been criticized for mistreating elephants. While camels are beasts of burden, used to carrying huge loads across the desert, one must be mindful of how they are being treated.
Sure, you can avoid the same in the short stays. However, if you are looking for an authentic experience, far from the tourist centers in Thar, then there is no avoiding a camel ride. There are a few tourist companies that declare ethical camel safaris. Most however, do not have any such norms. The best way to figure if you are in for an ethical ride is by observing how the camel appears. If it has any sores or cuts, you know that the camel is unfit for a ride. Insist on a different animal.
Camel Safaris in Jaisalmer are an important part of the livelihood of the locals. However, it is up to us as travelers to strike a balance between supporting the local tourist operators and the ethical treatment of the camels. Ask the right questions, have a discerning eye and then take a call.
Dune Bashing with a jeep safari in Jaisalmer
Whoopie! Whoa! Zoom! Zip! Thwack!!!…. And then repeat!
That high when your jeep comes speeding down like a rollercoaster on the dunes can be quite addictive. And when the speeding jeep turns on that soft sand, you almost feel that heady loss of control – until the driver expertly gets you back on track.
I could not help comparing the Jaisalmer Dune Bashing to the one that I have done in Dubai. While the Dubai one took me over higher sand dunes, the Jaisalmer Jeep Safari was equally fun – mostly because I was hanging onto the rods of an open -roof jeep.
Folk dances and music
The best part of the evenings in any of the Jaisalmer Desert Camps is the bonfire. And what makes it amazing is not just obvious warmth in the cold evenings. It is the flavor that the local musicians and dancers bring to the atmosphere. The mix of soulful melodies and foot-tapping dances give you a perfect insight into the Rajasthani culture and make your evening really enjoyable.
Count the stars over the dunes
Whether you choose one of those glamping stays or the rustic ones that allow you to sleep in the open, you must take a few moments to find a sand dune and lie over it. After all, it is not every day that you get to sleep under the stars. Jaisalmer generally has clear skies throughout the year and trust me, you must take advantage of this.
Parasailing in the desert camps of Jaisalmer
If Dune Bashing or the camel safari in Jaisalmer sounds tame and you are looking for a better adrenaline rush, then you should try parasailing or paramotoring in the desert. No better thrill than the combination of speed,, heights and a hawk’s eye view of the entire Thar Desert.
Pit stops enroute to the Thar desert
Everyone likes a little mystery in their destination and the Thar desert is full of it. Add that spice to your desert trip by stopping at some of these places. Explore the ghost town of Kuldhara and listen to the legend of the Paliwal Brahmins who left it overnight. Or listen to the stories of the mighty Tanot Mata Temple which stood strong when the Pakistanis bombed India. A lot of Jaisalmer Desert camps include these pit stops and if they don’t, you must plan for them yourself.
Taste the local Rajasthani food in the Jaisalmer Desert camps
A little daal baati churma or maybe some bajre ki roti with sev- tamatar ka saag followed with ghotua – oh Boy! What a way to warm yourself in the chilly nights of Jaisalmer. Almost all Jaisalmer desert camps will treat you some lip-smacking local delicacies. The rustic ones will in fact, cook the fare live over the bonfire and serve you till you say – “No more!”.
Tips to select the right Jaisalmer Desert Camp.
I am sure that by now you agree, that the desert camps of Jaisalmer sound like a lot of fun. However, not all of them offer everything. Also, they are spread across locations and are priced differently.
I can already sense your dilemma of how to decide which is the best one to pick. And for that, my next section on how to book a desert camp in Jaisalmer.
Best time for a desert camp in Jaisalmer
I would recommend visiting Jaisalmer any time between October to February. This is when the heat is tolerable. Being winter, the evenings are a little chilly but nothing that a regular coat or shawl cannot remedy. The rest of the year can be extremely hot.
Best location for a Jaisalmer Desert Camp
The area around Jaisalmer has been classified as Desert National Park of India. There are two main areas that have been designated for tourists – Sam Dunes and Khuri Dunes.
The most popular and touristy of the lot is Sam sand dunes. It is also, the closest to the golden city. When you approach Sam dunes, you will find all these camps lined one after the other along the main road. It can be a little annoying, especially in the evening when all the camps take their tourists out for camel safaris in Jaisalmer. You will keep bumping into people and making way for them. Also, the dunes are way smaller around this area. At night, the loudspeakers of all the camps get active and there are moments, where you do not know if you are listening to your folk singer or the one from the neighboring camp.
Khuri sand dunes are the other place in Jaisalmer that offers camel safaris. The ones here are a little more rustic and spaced out. To get to the Khuri desert camps, you might even have to do a camel safari from Jaisalmer. It is a little further into the Thar Desert National Camp as compared to Sam Dunes.
Ideal duration of your desert camp
My personal recommendation is plan your desert stay for at least 2 nights, especially if you are planning Khuri Dunes. For one, you do have to travel longer to get there and two, you would need that much time to get the true experience of the desert.
In case you choose to stay at Sam Dunes, you might find that one night is more than enough. Being closer, you will reach there in an hour or so by road. The camel safaris are more of an entertainment and as I mentioned earlier, the crowd does get to you.
Drops and Pick-ups for the Jaisalmer Desert Camps
Most Jaisalmer Desert Camps offer you a complimentary drop and pick up from the main city. In fact, some of them do so from your hotel. If you have booked a camp at Sam Sand Dunes, then your transfer will be all the way to the location in a car.
In case of Khuri Sand dunes, most operators pick you from the city and take you to their nearest desert location. From here, you will be transferred onto a camel. There are a few which offer you a four-wheel drive to the camp but those are charged extra.
Tips for a Jaisalmer Camel Safari
Camels are super gentle and cute. But riding them is quite tough -especially if you are on them for over an hour. Remember to check with your camp on how long the ride is so that you are prepared accordingly. Trust me, the long rides can get super uncomfortable and sometimes boring – after all there is the same dunes that you will see for miles and miles together.
The other important aspect of a camel safari in Jaisalmer is to ensure that the animal is fit and is being treated well. Do check if the camel has any sores or bruises – which is an indication on its health and treatment. It is hard to figure out the age of the camel and the only way to figure that out is by asking the person incharge.
It is possible that you might have to share your ride with someone. Always check with the tour operator on the same so that you know what you are in for.
Packing checklist for the desert camps in Rajasthan
The extreme temperatures and landscape of the Desert National Park in Jaisalmer does require you to pack smart. Here is my packing guide for the desert camps
- Light cotton clothes for the day. Avoid sleeveless tops and shorts as the sun can be really harsh and can cause skin burns.
- A scarf or a mask – especially if you are heading out for a camel safari or Dune bashing
- A hat or a cap for the day
- Woolen clothes for the evening – it can get really chilly. A light coat with a few layers is good enough
- I recommend open slippers as the sand tends to get into your shoes. Close boots is an option but they do not completely keep off the sand
- Wet wipes or toilet paper – especially if you are headed for a rustic stay
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Soothing cream like Aloe Vera Gel – in case you skin burns a lot. It can also, help if you graze yourself on the camel saddles. (Safaris are hard on your butt ;-))
- Snacks and drinks – remember there are no shops around the camps. Most camps do get you snacks but it is nice to be prepared anyway.
- Socks to cover your feet at night.
Food considerations & choices
Always check with the desert camp on the total meals that are included in the package. Most likely for a day you will get an evening snack, Rajasthani dinner and breakfast the next morning.
Rajasthani food does include vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. They generally have a standard menu which the camps would be happy to share. The rustic camps have live cooking over the fire. These have simpler food and limited choices.
Where to book the Jaisalmer desert camps?
You can book a Jaisalmer camel safari online or get to the city and book the same. The prices and the offers are pretty competitive. There are a lot of city hotels that offer the desert camps in Jaisalmer as an add-on. Shop around a little and compare the facilities offer before you book your desert camp. Check the booking resources below for some options on online booking.
And with that, I conclude this section and the complete guide to Jaisalmer Desert Camps. I hope that with these tips you find your match for the best desert experience in Rajasthan. Pin this up and pass the post around. 😀
How to get to Jaisalmer?
There are three ways to get to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan –
- By Air – There are limited flights from the domestic airports to Jaisalmer City.
- By Train – The most popular way to get to the border town of Jaisalmer. There are numerous trains to the city from all the major cities of Rajasthan
- By Road – Jodhpur and Bikaner are the nearest towns to Jaisalmer. You get regular buses from here. Besides these towns, you can hire a car at any of the Rajasthan cities and get to Jaisalmer. The Booking section has a few options that you can book online.
- You could use Booking.com for booking your Jaisalmer desert camps.
- Klook.com has a camel safari tour that can be booked online. You can also, use the site to book your airport transfers and intercity cabs in Rajasthan.
- GetYourGuide is another resource that has desert safaris listed on their site and you can get an instant confirmation for the same.
- Amazon is a lovely option to pick up all that you need for your home and travel. Do consider using this link to shop online.
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Popularly referred to as a Restless Ball of Energy. My Mom refuses to entertain my complaints about my equally restless daughter & assures my husband that I was born with a travel bug.
I am a Post-Graduate in Marketing by qualification and a travel blogger by passion. Besides travel, I enjoy photography and if you don’t find me at my desk, I would be out playing badminton or swimming or just running. I believe in planning for every long weekend through the year. And when I cannot travel physically, I travel virtually through this travel blog. My travel stories have also, got published on various websites and magazines including BBC Travel, Lonely Planet India and Jetwings. I have recently published my first book – When Places Come Alive – a collection of stories that are based on legends, landscapes, art and culture of a place which is available in both ebook and paperback format.