A complete checklist for Jaisalmer Desert Camps

posted in: Asia, Culture, India, Rajasthan, Tips | 17

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.

Experience Sunrise in the desert - one of the recommended things to do in Jaisalmer
Experience Sunrise in the desert – one of the recommended things to do in Jaisalmer

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.

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

The mesmerizing sunset over the sand dunes - one of the must-do things in the Jaisalmer Desert Camps
The mesmerizing sunset over the sand dunes – one of the must-do things in the Jaisalmer Desert Camps

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
Camel Safari in Jaisalmer

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.

Jaisalmer Camel Safaris - ethical or not?
Jaisalmer Camel Safaris – ethical or not?

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.

Jeep Safari - an attraction of the desert camps of Jaisalmer
Jeep Safari – an attraction of the desert camps of Jaisalmer

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

Cultural Show at the Jaisalmer Desert Camp
Cultural Show at the Jaisalmer Desert Camp

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

Kuldhara - the haunted village in India
Kuldhara – the haunted village in India

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

Rajasthani Meal
Rajasthani Meal

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.

Our desert camp in Jaisalmer
Our desert camp in Jaisalmer

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.

Jaisalmer Desert Camp in Sam Dunes
Jaisalmer Desert Camp in Sam 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.

Jaisalmer Camel Safari Tips
Jaisalmer Camel Safari Tips

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

Pack appropriately for your trip to the Desert national park in Jaisalmer
Pack appropriately for your trip to the Desert national park in Jaisalmer

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
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • 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?

One of the desert camps of Jaisalmer
One of the desert camps of Jaisalmer

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.

Booking resources

  • Tripadvisor is a great resource to check the reviews of travelers opting for various desert camps in Jaisalmer. You can use this link to check them out as well as book one for yourself.
  • Booking.com has several Jaisalmer Desert Camps listed on their site. Try this link to find one for yourself and book the same.
  • Klook.com has a few activities like Jeep Safaris listed on their site. You will also, find camel safaris and desert camps available for a discount here. Besides these, you can book your Jaisalmer car transfers.
  • For any of your photography or travel requirements, I recommend online shopping through Amazon. Do consider clicking through the link and browsing through the website for your home needs.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.
Share the Thrill of Travel

17 Responses

  1. Anubhav Sharma

    Great post admin , very nice information on jaisalmer . I was there last year with my friends and stay in desert camp and having lots of fun. Awesome information thanks for sharing .

  2. Srikanth

    Interesting place in a desert, have been subject to it only in movies till date and need to plan a extensive travel to Rajasthan and explore the wonderful state.
    Thanks for such a detailed post Ami..

  3. Sebastian Vaz

    I visited Jaisalmer a few years back and spent a night at a desert camp in Khuri. It was a road trip from Jaipur. On the way back, we spent a night at Jodhpur. But this trip should have been longer.

    • Ami

      Yes, it must have been quite a distance. But am glad you did make it to some extent. Hope that you can visit Rajasthan again. It has so many gems to uncover.

  4. Ravi

    Without a doubt one of the best cities I’ve ever visited. Your images are seriously awesome + luxurious! I was initially planning a family trip to Jaisalmer but because of pandemic COVID-19, I alone had to travel.

  5. Chloe Beaver

    Your photos of Jaisalmer are incredible. I’m sure this experience was not for the faint of heart, but was one for the books. I did want to comment on one particular piece about the ethics of camel rides. I found it interesting how you described the line between supporting the tour operators and supporting the ethics of camel riding, but did your best to do the right thing for both. The mistreatment of animals is so sad, but at the same time it is a lifeline for some of the tour operators, which does create quite the moral dilemma.

  6. Linda (LD Holland)

    When we were in Dubai we did a day excursion to the desert. We loved the dune bashing the best. The overall experience was fun but left me wanting more. I would definitely want an overnight camp where I could see the sunset, sunrise and count the star. A two night stay sounds perfect. Good tips to remember for the next time I want to try a desert visit.

  7. Bhushavali N

    Jaisalmer has been in my wishlist forever. So thanks for this detailed guide for me to plan my trip. Riding a 4×4 on the dunes and watching the sunset would be an experience of the lifetime. Cultural evenings and local food would be perfect icing on the cake. Stargazing in the pitch dark would be perfect.

  8. Jennifer Prince

    So lovely! Honestly, now that I think about it, I haven’t really been to many (if any?) desert locations. It seems like such a beautiful way to vacation – at least once! I’ll have to put a desert camp on my bucket list!

  9. Agnes

    This is a great guide to the Jaisalmer. I wish to go on a camel safari in this wonderful place. Perfectly prepared information. It’s great that you bring up the ethical context of taking a trip on a camel. It must be wonderful to learn about this culture, try delicious food, see folk dances and music.

  10. Clarice

    Wow! This place is indeed beautiful and I would love to visit someday. I have read wonderful stories about their adventure in Jaisalmer and after reading your post, I am definitely convinced that I should visit this place should we travel back to India. Appreciate the very detailed post. Super helpful for someone who has very little knowledge about this place.

  11. Yukti Agrawal

    I live in desert country and can imagine the fun of camping in deserts. When winter starts then to explore beauty of desert while camping is truly a beautiful thing to do. I love 4×4 sand dune bashing, camel rides and there Jaisalmer looks great place to experience all this. Great tips on what to carry and tips to follow for desert camping. I would love to slurp simple Rajasthani food cooked on direct fire.

  12. Trisha Velarmino

    I love Jaisalmer!!! I drove the whole Jaipur with friends and totally enjoyed it. Sometimes, it feels like driving in India is not a good idea but whenever I thought about my Jaipur trip, no matter how difficult it was, I still smile and remember how crazy driving in India is! I can’t believe we managed. Thank you for sharing this post. I’ll definitely come back to Jaisalmer!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.