Thinking of taking a camel safari in Jaisalmer? Well here is everything you need to know to create your perfect journey from India’s Golden City.
Catching a sleepy-eyed camel into the desert has to be one of the true highlights of visiting Rajasthan. You will sleep under the stars and visit countless beautiful villages. You will also have the chance to see unique and rare wildlife.
I have spent many nights out in the Great Thar desert and I have to say these are some of my fondest memories of India, so read on to discover how to plan your own desert safari.
Before I carry on I would like to invite you to find out more about what else Rajasthan has to offer tourists. If you would like to know simply read my guide on tourism in Rajasthan.
Why choose the Jaisalmer desert for your camel safari?
There are three significant places to take a camel safari in Rajasthan and I will briefly talk about my experiences with them and let you make your own conclusion.
Taking a camel safari in Bikaner
Bikaner is a town not far from Jaisalmer that is also deep in the desert. However, I found my experience on a camel safari to be very underwhelming.
I spent most of my time in the back of a cart instead of on a camel and my journey took me through mostly farmland. It is a lot more built-up than Jaisalmer.
Taking a camel safari in Osian
Osian is a small town north of Jodhpur. There is no infrastructure for tourism here and unless you take a luxury camel safari, it will be of questionable quality.
However, the plus side is the people of this town are not accustomed to tourists at all so you will get an authentic experience.
Taking a camel safari in Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer wins hands down because of the unique culture and incredible scenery. Simple and plain. There is excellent infrastructure and you are likely to be able to get very far off the tourist track.
The great Thar desert is mostly arid scrub hence the incredible wildlife. Camping out will give you a chance to see a little of it.
There are not very many sand dunes in Western Rajasthan. If your goal is to sleep on a dune, then Jaisalmer is definitely your best bet.
When is the best time to visit Jaisalmer?
There is only one answer and that is in the winter months. After the short monsoon, it will be cool and just as green as it will ever get. The winter months run from the end of October to the end of February.
Taking a camel safari in Jaisalmer may be the busiest at this time, but it is by far the most comfortable time to explore the desert.
It is also apparently the time when there are the least snakes. It’s too cold for them at night, so they will be hiding.
This is important if you are sleeping on the dunes after your long camel safari; you don’t want to have to worry about that. I almost stood on a viper in the middle of the night while going for a pee!
April and May are the worst months as there is a danger of sand storms that can last for days and it is blisteringly hot.
Which place is famous for camel safari?
I want to be as helpful as possible when planning your dream trip to India. Therefore I have to answer all the questions people ask. Oddly this is one of them. So here goes. The magnificent sam sand dunes are the most famous stretch of desert and probably the most scenic.
The advantages of visiting sam sand dunes
Sam sand dunes are incredibly popular with tourists and for a good reason. It is a beautiful set of dunes with a road all the way to them. You can be on a camel in time for dinner, making it perfect for those on a schedule.
The disadvantages of visiting sam sand dunes
Its proximity to both Jaisalmer and Khuri makes it incredibly popular. You will have to share your experience with lots of other travellers.
The Sam sand dunes are unquestionably beautiful, but it is not for me. I like to take my trips deep into the desert.
What do you wear to a camel safari?
The burning Rajasthani sun is piecing on the skin, so it is essential to cover up as much as possible. I know it is not what you want to hear, but it is the reality.
Whatever you decide to wear should be as thin as possible. Many travellers wear the Shanti Shanti clothes available in Jaisalmer. In truth, they are ideal as they are cheaply made and super light. Oh and some of them actually look pretty good to be fair.
How far is the desert from Jaisalmer?
This is also a frequently asked question for some reason? First of all, Jaisalmer is in the bloody desert? There are 360 degrees of it. However, if you were wondering where is best to do your camel safari, I recommend going past those massive turbine farms.
As beautiful as the landscape is, it will probably hamper your experience. This camel safari may cost a little more as they have to take you quite far. However, it is well worth the extra trust me.
Jaisalmer Top attractions
Now let’s look at Jaisalmer’s top attractions aside from a desert safari tour. This magical part of Rajasthan certainly has a lot to offer a tourist.
Jaisalmer desert national park
Jaisalmer Desert National Park is about 40 km away from Jali. It is spread across 3162 square kilometres. Located at the border between Jaisalmer and Pakistan the scenery here is incredible.
It has craggy rock walls, compacted lakes and fixed dunes. The dunes cover approximately 20% of the territory of this park.
The wildlife of Jaisalmer Desert national park
Despite Jaisalmer desert national park being in a very arid slice of India, it is home to an impressive array of wildlife.
I personally have seen chinkara, hyena, desert fox, great Indian bustard, saw-scaled viper, bee-eaters and desert owlets.
There is also some pretty impressive desert vegetation here. It is far from simply dunes. In fact, the sand dunes only equate to about 20% of the park.
You can find many cacti, desert plants and many thorned shrub species. The vegetation of the desert is quite unlike anything else you will find on the subcontinent.
A special note
I consider myself a pretty hardcore animal enthusiast, so I may be a little biased about my love of this place. So here is a link to Trip Advisor so you can see other travellers’ reviews of their experiences so you can make a more informed choice.
Checking reviews is also an excellent way to make the choice of who to book your camel safari tour with.
Jaisalmer is a whimsical little city that shimmers in the desert sunshine. The town centre is a maze of winding lanes and marketplaces crowned by a magnificent fort.
The golden city of India is sure to impress even the most hardened of travellers and I am sure you will find it worth the time to visit.
Sightseeing in this town will almost certainly take you more than one full day. There is too much to see, even at a push, so take your time.
Check out my in-depth blog on the 7 best places to visit in Jaisalmer for details.
How long should I go on a camel safari Jaisalmer?
Well, how much time can you dedicate to your desert safari tour? Some people can only spare a night on the dunes and some people only want that. It is tough to stay more than one night in such a hostile environment.
A sunset tour on the dunes
These tours typically start in either the early morning or late afternoon. After all, only a madman would head into the desert in the midday sun.
You will make a desert camp somewhere not far from the road. These are ideal for those on a time schedule who just want to experience the magic of a sunset in the desert.
Many tourists will not even stay the night and return to Jaisalmer after sunset. This kind of camel safari is short, sweet and cost-effective.
The problem with short camel safaris
These short camel safaris are not suitable for those of us who want an authentic experience. Any village you visit will be highly accustomed to tourists and the people will just see you as invaders who will give them chocolate.
Please don’t give the children chocolate as this is not helpful. There is no dental care and they are unlikely to brush their teeth regularly.
You will also have to share your sunset with masses of other tourists and this can be annoying, but where needs must, right?
A multiday camel safari
I strongly recommend a multiday camel safari tour if you can, as this will show you a clear picture of life in the Jaisalmer desert.
There are many landscapes to take in and you are much more likely to see wildlife. The remote location means the animals will be far less shy.
You will also probably enjoy your time in the villages more as the people will be more relaxed.
An experience here is deeply cultural It is unlike anywhere else in Rajasthan. There will be no cheesy folk dance or local people playing music for your INR you have come to expect in the tourist areas. You will experience Rajasthani culture in its raw form and it is a delight to explore.
The problem with taking a multiday camel safari
After one full day in the desert on the back of a camel and one night sleeping in a tent, you will be worn down! The Rajasthani desert is brutal on your body!
Sand will get everywhere; unless you are in a luxury desert camp, there will be no chance to wash. Then the day starts again for another full day in the desert.
I strongly recommend not riding your camel for the whole safari as it will likely hurt your hamstrings in a whole new way. Instead, take your camel for a walk.
This is much better for photographing animals as your camera will rock side to side on the back of your trusted steed.
Booking your desert safari
There are three ways to book your desert safari and I will now go over what they are and clearly outline what I recommend. You can count on this being utterly unbiased advice, given from multiple safaris.
Most of us will want to go into the desert on the back of a camel after visiting India’s golden city. Some of us will be going just for a sunset on the dunes. Some of us will be taking multiday safaris into the wild.
A desert Jeep safari
First of all, I want to talk a little about jeep safaris. There is also an option to take a jeep for those who do not fancy taking a camel ride across the dunes for days on end.
Advantages of a Jeep safari in Jaisalmer
You can cover far more ground since you are not moving on a camel at about five miles an hour. You can visit villages far away and even drive around the desert national park.
Another clear advantage of visiting the Thar desert in the back of a jeep is that you can do the whole tour in air conditioning. Unsurprisingly the desert is baking hot outside of the peak season.
Disadvantages of a Jeep safari in Jaisalmer
There are only limited roads in the desert, so you will have to deal with your limitations. A jeep safari will also cost a lot more as it’s well….. in a jeep.
Also, taking a jeep safari is not ideal for wildlife enthusiasts as the engine sounds will send the animals into hiding.
Booking your online safari
Many tourists will be booking their camel safari online. After all, we live in a digital age with all of the wonders of the internet.
Advantages of booking your safari online
You will be met from wherever you arrive and taken straight into Jaisalmer city. You will avoid the painful hassle of Jaisalmer and go straight onto the sand dunes. Doing this is ideal for those with limited time and a little cash to burn.
Disadvantages of booking your online safari
You will have a fixed itinerary and no room to change your plan. It is also costly to book your trip to the Jaisalmer desert online as you will invariably pay a middleman.
Booking your safari in Jaisalmer
There are many places to book your desert safari in Jaisalmer and the rates are very competitive. Camel safaris also vary significantly in quality, so find out what is included.
Remember, some safari tours include a luxury tent and are very comfortable. Some safaris end with you sleeping in a hole in the dunes. So do some research.
Advantages of booking your safari in Jaisalmer
There is plenty of competition for you to get on a desert safari tour from Jaisalmer city. You can shop around and take your time for the best deals.
It will also be way cheaper than booking online. Booking your tour in Jaisalmer will save you lots of INR. This method is excellent for those on a budget.
Disadvantages of booing your safari in Jaisalmer
Having nothing booked will mean you have to deal with the hassle of finding somewhere. That means dealing with lots of smooth-talking con men. What’s more, you will have to do it in the baking desert sunshine.
Booking your camel safari in Khuri
Khuri is a tiny village outside Jaisalmer and is an alternative base to the city. You will already be in the heart of the desert and its proximity to the Sam sand dunes makes it popular with both domestic and international tourists.
Advantages of booking your safari in Khuri
No one who visits Khuri will not be planning a camel safari on the dunes. You can find everything from luxury tents to quaint homestays. That means competitive prices and since you are already in the action, you will not have to travel so far into the desert.
The disadvantages of booking your safari in Khuri
There are only a limited number of companies operating from this tiny village and that will take away your bargaining power. It can also feel very pushy here, leading to a poor experience.
What is the cost of a camel safari in Jaisalmer?
Honestly speaking, it depends mainly on what level of comfort you expect from your desert adventure. Luxury outfits will set you back a pretty penny but if it is what you want then go nuts.
Personally, I like a more local experience, although it is obviously tougher on your body. Not only will there be no washing at the end of the day, but you will also have to poo in the sand!
However, sleeping out on the dunes and looking up at the stars as your camel driver cooks your dinner over a campfire has to be one of the most memorable events of my whole life.
Check what’s included on your safari!
Many people on the road complained Jaisalmer camel or jeep safaris were ripping them off. You must have everything you need for your camel safari.
That is why they tend to be an all-inclusive affair since there is no option to take your business elsewhere. You should therefore ask lots of questions in advance of booking.
A word of warning when booking a camel safari
When booking a camel safari in Jaisalmer or anywhere else, you must know there will be plenty of food and water. Having sufficient bedding in the winter is also vital as it can freeze at night.
My personal recommendation for booking a camel safari in Jaisalmer
I love to take camel safaris and I always use the same company. I book all packages through Hotel Desert in Jaisalmer as they have never let me down.
There has never been a time when I did not enjoy my experience, so I recommend them to you. I only have one recommendation for your camel safari, but it’s one you can trust.
The price per person is very reasonable and the local guides always take good care of the clients. Check out my blog on Jaisalmer for details.
How can I reach Jaisalmer?
Jaisalmer is in the far reaches of western Rajasthan and your camel safari will take you even further off the map. All roads end here. So how do you get to this remote corner of the universe?
Arriving at Jaisalmer desert by air
Jaisalmer is now connected by plane; if you are in a hurry, this can make a world of difference.
The costs are not overly high and you can easily book from any of India’s budget airlines. However, I recommend shopping around for the best price.
This option will undoubtedly leave you more time for your Jaisalmer tour and save you from making your way across the Thar desert on public transport.
Arriving at Jaisalmer desert by train
Jaisalmer is well connected to New Delhi by direct train. These trains all stop at Jaipur and Jodhpur.
Getting the train is both fast and convenient as you can come from the big city to the dunes of the Thar desert overnight.
However, Jaisalmer is at the end of the line and getting away by train leaves you with just a few options. Getting to Jaisalmer by train is still the most comfortable way.
Arriving in Jaisalmer by bus
There are many buses both government and private that operate out of Jaisalmer. Private buses will be more comfortable as getting stuck in traffic in the desert sunshine can be absolute torture.
However, the public bus stand is close to the fort’s entrance so you will not have to haggle for a taxi if you arrive there. It is ideal for those of us on a budget.
Busses are both frequent and reliable, making getting the bus to and from Jaisalmer a solid option.