After taking part in the #TravelBookChat last Tuesday, which focused on the novel ‘Tracks’ by Robyn Davidson – a story about a woman who trekked across the Australian desert on top a camel (definitely worth a read), it got me thinking about the short but sweet experiences I’ve ever had with these fascinating creatures…
Whilst volunteering in India, my friends and I decided to take a weekend trip to Bikaner to experience desert life on a camel.
After wrapping ourselves in protective clothing, scarves and hats, we were introduced to our new friends for the next couple of days. Sitting lazily on the sand awaiting their masters commands, each camel was decorated in vibrant, Indian fabrics and had a traditional, rustic beaded necklace draped around their neck.
Once we’d mounted our camels, (which is a lot harder and wobbly than it looks), we set off into the depths of the Thar desert.
I’d never ridden a camel before therefore, it took me a little while to get used to the bum wobble dance, which comes with riding these placid creatures. However, once I’d mastered this art, I finally looked up and admired the tranquil, rippling desert, which encompassed us.
I was so high up, I felt like no one could disturb my desert zen.
We trekked for a couple of hours through the windswept desert and local villages before taking a well-earned pit-stop for a spot of lunch.
As our guides prepared our mouth-watering, traditional lunch of fragrant chickpea curry, chapati and dal, we lulled in the shade, absorbing the idyllic scenery, reading and playing games… seclusion at its finest.
Once we’d devoured our delicious curry and quizzed our guides on desert life, we hopped back onto our camels and waddled off on the last leg of our journey.
When we arrived at camp, we laid out our blankets and mirrored the camels, as they all collapsed into a mound atop the sand.
As the warm sun dissolved behind the dusty sand dunes, we tucked into our second scrumptious, ‘desert-made’ curry of the day, glugged down a few refreshing Kingfisher beers and chatted away about our day in the desert, before ‘hitting the
hay sand’ under the gleaming stars.
We awoke to the sweet smell of chai and chapatti, which roused us from our sand-covered blankets (apparently we’d slept through a sand storm…) and watched as the sun slowly broke its way through the dream-like mirage of dust and heat, which enveloped the desert.
After relishing a wholesome breakfast, slurping on a mug of aromatic chai tea made with camel’s milk (straight from the camel!) and having our hands and feet beautifully decorated with henna by our lovely guide, we got onto our camels for the last time, and made our way back towards the manic roads of India.
Although Bikaner desert is not as scenic as the silky sand dunes of Jaisalmer, it’s a great place to get the ‘camel-safari experience’ without having to trek so far west.
Similarly to most other camel safari excursions in India, our trip included two days trekking through the Thar desert, an overnight stay sleeping under the stars, traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, unlimited water and a guide… all for the remarkable price of approx £20 per person.
We went through a company called Vino Desert Safari, which I would highly recommend.
Happy Camelling peeps!!