Jaisalmer – Rajasthan: Camels, Deserts, Sunsets and Beetles

We organised our camel Safari throughout our guesthouse, which was honestly one of the friendliest places we stayed in the whole of India (The Golden Marigold), which was run by a lady from Birmingham called Melissa (what a coinkydink!!) and her lovely husband Chotu, who was from a desert village around Jaisalmer.

We were picked up at around 8am after a very sweet chai on the door step, and driven out to the desert in a jeep. On the way we passed a Jain temple, Jainism is an ancient Indian religion, and is closely associated with Hinduism, although I do not claim to know much more than that about it. I have been that people who follow the Jain religion do not eat food the grows under the ground, so not potatoes, garlic, onions etc. So I would greatly struggle to be Jain. They also seemed to be quite wealthy, as their temples are always very intricately decorated and grand.

Craig in from of the very fancy looking Jain temple
Craig in front of the very fancy looking Jain temple

We also passed by an abandoned village called Kuldhara, and were told a very haunting story about this place which I have relayed in a separate blog. https://3yearseast.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/the-abandoned-village-of-kuldhara/

We then got dropped off in a tiny village in the desert. I was desperate for the loo, and was led by some very excitable children to their local toilet, past some tiny mud and brick houses. Apparently people don’t usually pick the camels up from their village homes, but this was a special circumstance, and the Camel owner had asked our guide to do just that. I was very grateful for this opportunity to visit a local village, and get a small glimpse of how the desert people live.

A glimpse of a tiny village
A glimpse of a tiny village, they have no running water or electricity!!

I was not happy however, to not have school pens on me for the local children. It seems their English skills amounted to ‘school pen’ and ‘chocolate’, of which I had neither, so I felt really bad. Especially when I took my sunglasses back off them, which they had been wearing and then asking me to take photos. I did reason they probably would have fought over them and they would have been broken within minutes, and I was about to go on a Camel Safari in the desert, I needed my sunnies man!!

Local children eager to get in a picture
Local children eager to get in a picture
He got his turn with the sunglasses
He got his turn with the sunglasses
India may have caused me to develop a mini obsession with goats - understandable since they are the cutest and funniest animals ever
India may have caused me to develop a mini obsession with goats – understandable since they are the cutest and funniest animals ever
Off we go on our camel trek with our guide leading the way
Off we go on our camel trek with our guide leading the way
Gorgeous little faces
Gorgeous little faces – interestingly, the girls were extremely camera shy

For the rest of the day we walked slowly and steadily through the desert, sitting on our Camels, Champion and Alex, lead by our guide Sumar, or a times leading the camels ourselves whilst Sumar sat on the back and sang local songs. We stopped in the middle of the day for lunch, which Sumar cooked over an open fire from scratch. The next day we even had a go at making desert chapatis ourselves. We washed the pans and dishes using sand and a tiny bit of water, and eventually arrived at our resting place for the evening, near the base of a sand dune.

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Sumar having a sing song
The master at work - although he assured us his wife cooks at home
The master at work – and the person responsible for me getting ‘no sugar, no chai’ to the tune of ‘no woman, no cry’ stuck in my head every time I see a chai – which is a lot in India
Craig making a chapati
Craig making a chapati
My perfectly round, but very thick chapati
My perfectly round, but very thick chapati

We didn’t get a picture of the sand where we laid our old dusty unwashed mattresses that lived nearby in the desert, but if we did, you would see a number of ginormous black beetles crawling around innocently. I don’t consider myself a particularly squeamish person, but knowing that you are going to be sleeping out in the open, literally under the stars with these massive bugs crawling around, it’s hard not to imagine them having a party on your face while you sleep. I was however laughed off by Craig and Sumar who were enjoying scooping them up and throwing them far away, just to watch them scurry back at a surprisingly fast pace.

We watched the sunset from the top of a beautiful sand dune, and settled down for some dinner. As dinner was closer to being cooked, the stars made their appearance and we had approximately an hour and a half until the moon rose and brought a striking contrast of light to our desert landscape. We slept surprisingly well after a lovely dinner cooked on a fire, and some campfire stories told by our guide.

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At around 6.30am I awoke to the sound of Sumar snoring extremely loudly, and saw that the sun was rising just over the horizon, I nudged Craig to wake up and took a couple of snaps of Alex and Champion munching on the tree they had slept next to, with the sun rising behind them. It was a beautiful and idyllic scene to wake up to, tempered only by the nearby screams of Indian tourists in dune buggies, which made it sound like there could have been a theme park behind our nearest sand hill.

First glimpse of daylight in the desert
First glimpse of daylight in the desert

The day that ensued was spent wandering through the desert and some nearby towns and villages on our camels, and a stop at some big sand dunes to do some jumping and rolling down hills.

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Me and Champion! We even had a little canter just before this!
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We loved our super cool turbans
This was quite scary, the rest of our footage of this is videos
This was scarier than it looks – the rest of our footage of this is in videos, although Sumar should not quit his day job as a camel safari guide, his videography skills left something to be desired. 

After a final lunch, and a visit by some young children taking their goats out to graze (amazing!!), we headed home; tired and dusty, but happy to have had such an amazing experience in the desert.

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