OVERNIGHT DESERT SAFARI IN JAISALMER, INDIA
Bumpy gravel road ride through the desert, camping and bonfire somewhere far away from civilization, no internet connection, no toilet or comfy bed, breathing in the magical smell of the golden dunes, sleeping under the stars, sandy hair and free soul. That’s how I describe this experience. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? You should definitely take this opportunity and experience it yourself!
I booked an overnight tour with my hostel without even thinking, our group was joining group from another hostel and a few people from other hotels too. It do think that it’s some kind of private company, that isn’t advertising anywhere else, as I haven’t even heard the name. That’s not a very smart thing because some random guys could have drove us in to the desert and leave us there to die (hahaha). BUT it’s not a problem to find a counter where you can book this adventure in Jaisalmer, there is a lot of small travel agencies and every second person there is a guide or knows a person who knows a guide who organises these trips.
I believe you will be able to book this adventure at your hotel too, no matter where you stay. But if you want some recommendations pop up to Zostel or Moustache hostel to book the same trip that I had (it was so good!). I also heard some good reviews about Trotters.
If you’re planning your trip to Jaisalmer you should also read what to do in this charming city here.
1900 INR (~20£, 23€, 25$) WORTH OVERnight safari included:
- A jeep ride to the camel point at Desert National Park at Jaisalmer and back to accomodation.
- Pitstop at the deserted village of Kuldhara, about an hour outside of Jaisalmer.
- Pitstop at the desert oasis.
- Camel safari with a guide.
- An overnight stay at their campsite with a tent or bed and loads of blankets.
- Two freshly cooked meals, snacks, chai and unlimited supply of cold water.
Some things to consider before booking:
- You don’t have to book an overnight trip, they do day safaris too!
- Ask for number of people that are going with you, some groups (like mine) might be of 15-20 people, but some might be more private with max 5 or even just you and your friend.
- Some organisers promise you a dancing and full fun fair desert experience, so think if you do really need that? It’s camping, so dancing and lights and fireworks aren’t a thing to look for!
- CAMELS. I do not support any kind of animal use in my daily life. I can tell you that camels aren’t treated there right and they have to suffer a lot to learn what they do for this entertainment. Seeing their tearful eyes with a metal strips in their nose, chains all around their neck and rope tied legs were very challenging for me. I took a much more exciting (and scary) jeep ride through the desert!
Side note – quite a big group from my hostel was going on this trip, that shows that it is a very popular adventure among all the travellers (not only westerns but Indians too!). But I also heard that some companies does more private tours, where it’s just a few people or max 5-6. IF that is important to you – better check before booking.
OVERNIGHT DESERT SAFARI
This adventure described bellow is what I got when booking through my hostel. I believe that most of the companies do the same or similar so it might be something even better when you book your own!
Adventure began a little bit after midday, around 1.30 PM, which was good as I had plenty of time to pack my stuff, have a good brunch (which obviously is the most important). We walked outside the fort, hopped on a safari jeeps and the adventure began!
First stop – KULDHARA
This place has a very interesting history. You won’t believe that but one day all of the villagers vanished. Yes. The village that was hustling and bustling the night before was dead quiet and empty without even a soul in it the next morning. This old town of Kuldhara is located about 18 km from Jaisalmer and it was abandoned in around 1800s. Nobody really knows why this had happened. Some say that people left because the local wells dried up, some believe that it’s because of an earthquake, and some people believe that all the people run away because of an insistent Prime Minister who got attracted and wanted to take a beautiful village girl, and the villagers got so scared, they didn’t want to let him to use his power against them that they packed their bags and ran away. But… Nobody knows.
This small town is uninhabited to this day and it is still a mystery how no one saw loads of people leave their homes and where all of the went. It is a pretty intense experience to walk around a place knowing that some time ago people just vanished leaving all their life behind.
Second stop – DESERT OASIS
I don’t really remember the name of it, but we stopped near a lovely little pond in the middle of desert. I haven’t seen such a blue and clear water in India before like I saw there. Our guide told us that to this day people from closest villages around it comes and takes this water to use it in their daily lives. And in the early morning hours wild animals are coming to refresh and have a sip. Charming.
Third stop – LOCAL VILLAGE
We made a stop at a small village where they grown and train camels. A few of them were lying on the ground, chilling on the sun. That small village literally had three houses and all of them looked like built out of clay with handmade thatched roofs. I felt like I got back in time. I love that feeling!
Forth stop – CAMELS
I chose to have a jeep ride but some people (hmm, all of them) wanted to reach our camping spot with Camels (it’s a camel safari after all). So we made to stop somewhere in the desert where the Camels were waiting.
It was actually lovely to see these animals with a colourful blankets and cute chains around them. It got me thinking about my past when I read all the stories and watched all the movies about ancient Egypt, pyramids, Sahara desert and camel caravans, it is such an exotic and unfamiliar world to my eyes (even though I do not support that).
It took a bit more than 1 hour for them to reach the camping spot. A lot of people were saying that it was uncomfortable ride and that their butts hurt, so keep that in mind.
Fifth stop – CAMPING SPOT IN DESERT
When I saw where we gonna stay I was so excited. There was one small shelter where they keep beds and blankets. A little hill with big boxes packed with all kind of utencils and big bonfire area a little bit further from it. And the tranquility of golden sand dunes around…
Since I was the only one that didn’t go with camels and we arrived way faster than others, I had all the dunes for myself! While guides were lighting up a fire and making some snacks I had an opportunity to do whatever I want! I was running from one dune to another, rolling up and down, taking pictures, meditating, trying to breathe in as much stillness as I could and enjoy my Being!
When caravan reached the spot we had some chai with biscuits. I am still amazed by the hospitality of Indian people, our guides were bringing the snacks to each and everyone of us no matter how far away they’ve been, can you imagine? Normally they would shout ‘FOOD’ and everyone would find their way to come if they want, but they were trying to make our experience as much enjoyable as they could. Umbelievable!
After some time they served some freshly cooked snacks – veg pakora. Veg Pakora is a very popular and very delicious snack in India and you will definitely find it everywhere you go. It is just a simple deep fried battered veggies (potatoes, carrots, zucchinis, onions and so on), but it is so good, that my mouth started to water while writing about it… Sometimes the simplest things are the best things, don’t you agree?
The sun was setting down and I could see that everyone were really enjoying their time in the desert. Some were exploring the dunes, walking barefoot in the sand, some were taking pictures, sitting, talking, laughing with each other. It was magical. And you will feel that too. Oh and I can assure you that the sunset in a desert is something not to miss out in this life!
When the sun gone down and it got dark and the bonfire was the only light around, we got together for a delicious thali that was freshly cooked in the desert! If you are wondering about alcohol – they were selling the beer for the ones who wanted! Absolutely gorgeous!
We were sitting by the bonfire till the late night, talking with each other, enjoying the serenity of the place and breathtaking clear night sky full of stars.
We all had tents to sleep in (a couple people in one tent) or we could just lay on beds under the night sky.
The next morning we got some coffee and chai, veg maggie, toast with jam and fresh fruit for breakfast. We helped to clear everything up and went back on the road to Jaisalmer.
Tips how to survive a night in a desert:
- daytime in a desert might be hot, but nights are cold and foggy, so do take a good pair of long sleeves and warm bottoms (leggings and sweatpants and warm sweater or two).
- most of the tours will provide you with filtered water, but if you don’t want shit to happen – take your own water bottle or two.
- the nature is your toilet, take some tissues and wet wipes AND A BAG TO PACK IT, do not leave white shiny valuables for nature.
- snacks, drinks (soft or alcohol) and other food is totally up to you. I would recommend taking something with you in case you get a bit hungry or something. I always take snacks with me. I am a snack person.
- if you forget to take beer, no worries, you will be able to buy it in a desert (haha). More expensive than in the shop, but not too bad.
There is also an option to stay more than one night in a desert. A few people of our group stayed. I bet they has the best time in the world!
You will return around 1-3 PM which is pretty good time to get yourself ready for an overnight train to your next destination or you can just chill and stay another night in Jaisalmer. I wanted to check the other side of India so I stayed for another night and had a flight to Bengaluru the next day!
Planning to explore the best of India? Here is my guide to Jodhpur (Blue city), Udaipur (City of Lakes) and Jaipur (Pink city).
Thank you very much for reading the whole itinerary!
If you’ve already visited Jaisalmer and spent a night in a desert, it would be amazing to hear travel tips and recommendations from you in the comments.
If you haven’t been there yet, please don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any questions. We are here to help!
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