Riding camels in India - Jaisalmer Desert Safari

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Jaisalmer is a charming historical city in India.

Little did I know that this small city in the far West of India, a World Heritage Site, will turn out to be one of the most interesting stops on our 4-week trip across India (see our photo story: Part 1, Part 2).

And camel safari in Jaisalmer – one of the most memorable experiences of the trip. To help you prepare for your trip to Jaisalmer I’m writing this article sharing our Jaisalmer desert safari experience.

Because it’s worth it. If you’re ever traveling to Rajasthan and you like to spend time in nature, think of going on a camel safari in Jaisalmer. And even if you don’t want to go on a desert safari in Jaisalmer, visit Jaisalmer anyway. It’s a super cute place I would everyone recommend to visit whenever you’re traveling to India.

Jaisalmer is a city that looks like straight out of a fairy tale.

Streets of Jaisalmer
Streets of Jaisalmer

Desert Safari in India

First things first, desert in India looks different.

It’s nothing like, for example, Sahara desert. Don’t expect huge sand dunes. You’ll not find them in India. Are there camels in India? Yes. Though, most of them are domesticated.

If you’re thinking of going on a desert safari in India, you’ll have to head to Rajasthan.

In Rajasthan desert safari options include (but aren’t limited to): Pushkar, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.

Desert Safari in Rajasthan

Rajasthan is an Indian state bordering Pakistan. It’s famous for its numerous palaces and forts reminding of the many kingdoms that once ruled in the region. As that’s also where The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is located. Capital of the state – Jaipur – is one of the most visited cities by tourists traveling to India.

Jaipur is also one of the three cities on the India’s golden triangle tourist circuit.

In Rajasthan desert safari options include (but aren’t limited to): Pushkar, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.

These are 3 of the most popular cities, from where most of people start their desert safari tours in India.

Go to any of these cities and you’ll surely find a tour company or a guide willing to take you on a desert safari trip. Anything from few hour to few week desert safaris can be arranged from these cities. If you don’t feel that confident about yourself or you simply like to have everything well planned out, nowadays you can also arrange the tour beforehand.

A company we went with (from Jaisalmer) – Real Desert Man Safari.

Taking a train to Jaisalmer, India
Taking a train to Jaisalmer, India

From Where to Go on a Desert Safari in India?

1. Easiest Option – Pushkar

Or if you are short on time.

Getting from Jaipur to Pushkar is easy. You can either take a bus or taxi.

Yes, it’s like a 3-hour ride away from Jaipur, but with Uber in 2018 it cost us around INR 1500 only. If you are 3, it costs about the same like a local bus ride and is a much more comfortable journey.

Pushkar itself is a nice small town, but 1-2 days is enough for it.

Since there aren’t too many things to do in Pushkar. You can see most the city in a couple of hours.

Beware of “holy man” asking for money at the Pushkar lake. If you would like to take a look at Pushkar from above, don’t miss the chance to head up to the Savitri Mata Temple.

2. A Better Option – Jodhpur or Jaisalmer

Depending on what you like more – big cities or small towns.

Jodhpur is like 15 times bigger than Jaisalmer and looks more like any other cities in India. At the same time in Jaisalmer you feel like you’re a world away from everything and everyone, in a desert fort forgotten by most. Especially if you are traveling in May, like we did, when, yeah, it’s super hot in Jaisalmer, but there are only like 20 other tourists in the town.

Learn more about Jaisalmer: Jaisalmer Travel Guide.

Jaisalmer fort as seen from a distance
Jaisalmer fort in the distance

Jaisalmer Desert Safari

Like already mentioned – all 3 of these places are well-known desert safari destinations in India.

Accordingly buying a tour for going into the desert is super easy there. Jaisalmer isn’t an exception. Just go out on the street, walk for 20 – 30 minutes around the area of Jasailmer fort, and you’ll already have at least a few options to compare. Choose what suits you the best.

1. Jaisalmer Desert Safari Package Cost

How much does a typical Jaisalmer desert safari package cost? It depends.

Price varies a lot. An overnight desert stay in Jaisalmer can start from as low as INR 600.

If you want to just go on a camel ride in Jaisalmer, it can be even cheaper. But, remember, that cheap camel safari means also that the animals are highly likely to be treated badly. The same as desert guides are most likely underpaid.

Our Jaisalmer desert safari cost us around INR 1500 per person.

Mostly, however, an overnight camel safari in Rajasthan will cost you between INR 1000 – 2500.

Our Jaisalmer desert safari cost us around INR 1500 per person.

What was included in the price?

  • Luggage storage in Jaisalmer,
  • Pick up and drop off at the station,
  • A night in a basic guest house,
  • An overnight desert safari near Jaisalmer,
  • Jeep transportation to and back from the desert with a couple stops along the way,
  • Snacks, water, tea, dinner and breakfast.

We were sleeping in beds under the sky. Blankets were also provided.

People in Jaisalmer

In total we were away from Jaisalmer for about 20 hours.

We didn’t spend anything extra for anything that happened during these hours. In total we were riding camels for about 3 hours. And it felt more than enough for the first time. It’s not that comfortable sitting on a camel for more than an hour.

2. Delhi to Jaisalmer

You can either fly to Jaisalmer or take a train.

Currently there are no direct flight from Delhi to Jaisalmer.

If you’ll be taking a train, don’t forget  to book your tickets in advance. Especially if there are more than 2 or 3 of you traveling together. Train is the most popular mode of transportation in India, and tickets get sold out.

Book your train ticket online or visit the International Tourist Bureaus in New Delhi Railway station. Beware of touts at the entrance of the station trying to convict you that the office is closed. It’s open 24/7.

Our Jaisalmer Desert Safari Experience (in Photos)

We left Jaisalmer in early afternoon, and came back the next morning.

First stop – abandoned village.

Abandoned building in the desert in India

Abandoned town in India

Next stop – a lake in the desert.

It was May, and it was around 122 F / + 50 C.

Lake near desert in Jaisalmer

And then we headed further.

Jeep in the desert in India

To a place where camels and desert guides were already waiting for us.

Camels and guides in Jaisalmer
Our camels and guides – Our Jaisalmer Desert Safari Experience

Short instructions were given, and we were ready to head further.

People riding camels in Jaisalmer India

With India – Pakistan border on the left.

People on the camels next to a fence and border with Pakistan

Then the dunes started.

Sand dunes in India

And more dunes followed.

Riding camels on sand dunes in India

People on camels in desert in India

Until we arrived at the place which will be our camp for the night.

Camels in the desert in India

Camels rested and ate.

Our guides started preparing snacks and dinner.

We went to take some photos.

Camels eating bushes

Camels resting

Jumping in the desert

Dinner was great.

We slept very well. At night temperatures dropped to very pleasant (I’m guessing) 68 F / +20 C.

There were no other people around.

It was completely quiet, and that was awesome.

In the morning we rode camels back to the place from where we started riding yesterday.

We took another “road” this time.

Riding camels in India - Jaisalmer Desert Safari

The last photo above shows very well how Thar Desert in India looks like for the most part.

It’s mostly plains with few small threes here and there, and very occasionally sand dunes.

Where to Stay in Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer is a very charming city.

After having spent in India around a year and visiting tens of Indian cities, it’s one of my favorites.

Hence I would highly recommend you to spend 1 full day in the city. Google will tell you that there aren’t that many things to do in Jaisalmer, and it’s true. But the atmosphere of the city, people, the way they dress and how the place looks, that’s what makes Jaisalmer so special.

If you’re coming to Jaisalmer only to go on a desert safari, you can do it without spending even a single night in the city.

1. CHEAP – Guesthouse Toffu

A simple, yet very nice guest house in Jaisalmer where we’ve stayed ourselves.

Rooms are comfortable and pleasant. The best part about this hotel is the rooftop restaurant, which offers one of the best views of Jaisalmer and Jaisalmer fort. Photo of the fort you can see in this article was taken from there. Cheapest rooms are without air conditioning (only fan).

Owner of the guest house is also offering his own desert safari tours.

Double room starts at INR 330. Check the latest price!

2. MID-RANGE – The Secret House – Adults Only

A popular 3-star hotel 15-minute walk away from Jaisalmer fort.

Rooms come with private balconies. There is an on-site restaurant in The Secret House serving Spanish and Indian food.

Double room starts at INR 2500. Check the latest price!

Free Hotel Stay in Jaisalmer

Many of the tour companies in Jaisalmer own a hotel or guest house.

If you are booking a desert safari online, you may not even need to think where to stay in Jaisalmer, because tour companies sometimes offer you a free or discounted stay at some hotel or guest house. Simply because you book a tour with them.

Have you been in Jaisalmer? Did you go on a desert safari in Jaisalmer?

Or maybe you’ve been on a desert safari somewhere else in India? What was your experience?

Book Your Trip Like a PRO

1. Book Your Flight

Find cheap flights using Kiwi.com, Momondo.com. Or subscribe to Dollar Flight Club, if you don’t want to be searching for the flights yourself. Momondo usually is my first choice.

2. Book Your Accommodation

Booking.com, Agoda.com and Airbnb. I use Booking and Agoda at least a dozen times a year, and Airbnb – when looking for a long-term stay. My best tip is to ALWAYS compare the price. Sometimes the same hotel is cheaper on Booking.com, other times – on Agoda. Always compare the price!

3. Buy Your Travel Insurance

World Nomads and SafetyWings are two companies I can recommend. World Nomads offers some extra benefits, that will be important for those doing some higher risk activities, while SafetyWings is significantly cheaper. SafetyWings is only $9.25 / week.

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