Tag Archives: Camping

Desert Days in Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer, India’s gateway to the Thar Desert sits in Western Rajasthan about 130km’s east of the Pakistani border, it’s India’s capital for camel safaris. Stepping off the bus you are engulfed and a little overwhelmed by two things – the stifling heat and hot winds rolling in off the Thar Desert and Jaisalmer’s touts, rickshaw drivers and camel safari operators, given that it’s off-season both the heat and the people are as pressing as ever. It’s a whirlwind of people offering cheap rooms and cheap safaris and just 22 hours later I found myself on a camel 70 kilometres outside of Jaisalmer with a Polish couple, our guides Hokum and Salem, and our camel convoy – Johnny Boy, Sonia, Mr. Bean and Papu.

Johnny Boy and I

Johnny Boy and I

 

Camel Safari in Rajasthan

The camel convoy


The camel safaris have long been considered a must do of India (like Hampi) and I can now see why.  The days start early with chai, eggs and toast around the campfire. As the sun peaks it’s head over the horizon we began to pack the camels for the long day ahead. After loading them up with 75 litres of water and all our other rations for the 2 nights in the desert we make our way out into the blistering sun – I should hardly complain I make the journey on the back of the camel and apart from keeping myself on the camel there’s not much I have to do for the next few hours. At around 11 o clock, after 3 hours of riding we stop under the shade of a tree and cook lunch – this is more for our sake than the camels.

‘Camel Kitchen’ – a few pots and pans over a campfire – as the drivers call it cooks up a delicious mixed veg masala with endless chapati’s as well as the obligatory chai (it happens to be the best chai in India). We eat more or less the same meals for lunch and dinner on the 3 days and there was no complaining there – the food was tasty, filling and endless. All of us except the camels followed this up by a nap under the tree.

Camel Kitchen - serving up India's finest Chai

Camel Kitchen – serving up India’s finest Chai

We rest and let the camels wander for a few hours while the sun is at it’s most extreme then our turbans go back on and we venture off in search of a campsite by sunrise. It’s worth noting that for some reason fluoro pink and orange turbans are somewhat of a ‘thing’ out here, even among some of the locals.  The days end in much the same way they start, with chai and dinner as the sun goes down this time over Pakistani border. The air instantly cools and we spend the nights sitting around the campfire drinking desert whisky, telling stories and listening to Salem’s renditions on classic songs. If you’ve never heard an Indian camel driver belt out ‘Hotel Camelfornia’ while playing the water container as a tabla then I seriously suggest you book your camel safari today.

Our camp for the night

Our camp for the night

The long day in the sun and desert whisky take its toll and I retire to bed, a blanket on top of a nearby sand dune. As the campfire burns out the cosmic light show comes to life. The Milky Way spans the sky and I can’t remember the last time I had seen this many stars. As I lay there I remember reading that there are more stars in the universe than all the grains of sand on this Earth and lying in the middle of 200,000 square kilometres of sandy desert is a timely reminder of just how small we are.

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This escape from the chaos of India was exactly what I needed. It was an amazing way to tick off another item on My Bucket List.

Have you done a Camel Safari or a trip into the desert somewhere? What was your experience like?

theboywander

Forget Sydney…

Well, not quite but it would be easy enough to do on New South Wales’ South Coast. Although Sydney has an endless list of attractions, which makes it one of the favoured cities by tourists and backpackers alike, you may be aiming a little high on the coastline if you’re looking for some of the best kept secrets New South Wales has to offer.

The South Coast (conveniently located 2 hours from Sydney) is known for its abundance of Australian wildlife so it’s a must for anyone looking to find dolphins, whales, wombats, echidnas, koalas or kangaroos.

Camping or camper-van is the favoured choice by the modern day explorer on the South Coast allowing you to immerse yourself in nature. Surrounded by such serenity it breeds locals to suit. How truly content they are is reflected in the way they talk about the area, upon asking where to go we were left with endless suggestions. Given that I’m a sucker for lighthouses and headlands we drove out towards Point Perpendicular on the Northern Head of Jervis Bay.

The gum-trees on either side of the road set against a steel grey sky would’ve looked equally as appropriate in an Australian Art exhibition as it did guiding us to the light house ahead.
Looking up from the grounds of the lighthouse where a kangaroo hopped around, the huge white lighthouse keeps guard over Jervis Bay. Shortly beyond the lighthouse the cliffs fall so perfectly vertical to the ocean you suspect it may be the work of a huge ancient stonemason.

While the view from the headland had left me awestruck, the highlight of the trip was yet to come…

Another kangaroo on the other side of the bay.

Another kangaroo on the other side of the bay.

A short walk through the bush opens up to one of the most beautiful beaches I’d ever seen, Honeymoon Bay. The fine white sand wrapped around the bay like a waning moon. The crystal clear water had tempted a kangaroo down to the waters edge and even in the chilly late autumn weather I was tempted to indulge. If skinny-dipping happened to be on your bucket list, a swim under the stars in Honeymoon Bay would be hard to beat. You just don’d find this serenity anywhere in Sydney.

After returning to camp and realising that not too far down the road are places that offer surfing, water-skiing, fishing, bush walks, wildlife tours, wineries, markets and more you slowly start to forget Sydney…