Camels are about 10 feet tall. I am half that size, therefore I had to hold onto my guide's hand as I clambered on top of my ride. Maybe the camel had assumed I was tall enough to make this move in one motion, because while my foot had made it over, the rest of my body dangled from his side as he stood up straight— all 10 feet of him.
We were in the Thar Desert of India on a camel safari. We drove 45 minutes out of the city to meet a man who stood around waiting with one camel for each member of the group.
The camel safari through the Thar Desert is a big tourist attraction in Jaisalmer, India. (When I say big tourist attraction though, I mean I hardly saw anyone else doing the same tour as us.)
It was my first time ever riding a camel and an experience I'll have forever. Read to the end for a special video on my experience!
If it’s something you’re interested in, here’s a guide on what to expect:
Choosing who to go with
First of all, when choosing your operator, make sure you ask the following questions: Is water provided? Is dinner included? Do the operators cook over a fire or is it a restaurant? How long is the journey? Does everyone get their own camel or are they shared? Will there be beer?
Amazingly enough, our guide had bottled beer to sell us, but it was a limited amount and there were several of us, so stock up!
Choosing the right tour operator isn’t too difficult. There are several different companies that will take people out into the desert, but shop around for prices. Compare prices online with the ones you see in the streets. Due to convenience, I went with my hostel, Swan Hostel, which ended up being a good time because we went with several other travelers we got to socialize with. Most hotels and hostels offer the tours or know a tour operator that will take you, so check with your accommodation.
I paid 1600 rupees for my camel ride which included dinner, breakfast and snacks. I’ve read that the prices can range anywhere from 1000 rupees to 1800 rupees, so shop around.
What to bring
Plan on leaving your main luggage at the hostel or hotel that you are staying at. Although the camels carry everything, bringing too much stuff for one night in the desert can be a hassle and you don’t want to weigh down the camels any more than they can carry. Essentials are enough:
reusable water bottle
camera of your choice
portable battery charger
flip flops/ sandals
long flowy pants
change of clothes for the next day
What to Expect
Camels are ridden for up to 2 hours, which is definitely enough. In fact, one night in the desert is enough to get the full experience.
The camels are really tall and uncomfortable after a few hours. Therefore, if you’re not used to riding a camel (which I’m assuming most of us aren’t) the ride will make you sore in places you didn’t know you could feel sore…
Some of them may get horny (it was mating season when we rode ours) and they may make weird noises and facial expressions, but are harmless nonetheless. (No, I didn’t see any spit).
Bathrooms are… natural. Dig a small hole in the dedicated bathroom area and cover it after you’re done doing the duty. Try to bring a bag for your used tp. Wear shoes.
Along those lines, there are no showers or facilities to wash your hands, so make good use of some wet wipes.
You’ll be sleeping out in the open, side by side with the other travelers to keep warm.
Black beetles may crawl across you or near you in the night.
Don’t forget to relax and enjoy the sunset and wake up early for the sunrise. It’s an amazing feeling to wake up in the cold desert, walk up some dunes and watch as the sun lights up the sands.
And that’s about it! The camel safari is a unique experience and gets you away from the chaos of the city, hence it's appeal. Although it's "touristy" I think it's a great experience.
Is there anything I missed? Would you ever take a ride on a camel through the desert?
Watch the Video!