Friday, 18 October 2013

Thar Desert – A Safari To Remember

It was my scariest solo expedition! Yes, I was jittery like a cat on a hot tin roof! My heart and my mind were not in sync. Let me begin from the beginning – I reached Jaisalmer around 12:30 in the noon. I was very warmly received at the bus depot and escorted to the hotel Deep Mahal in the Jaisalmer Fort. I bonded instantly with the hotel staff – they took care of me like family.

Even though I was badly tired, I was keen on the desert safari the very same day. Since my trip was a short one, I didn’t have much time to relax. I had a brief discussion with the hotel manager about the safari packages and agreed on the evening safari option. I could snooze for a little while as I had to leave at 3 in the afternoon for my solitary desert safari. My moment of fear started when one of the staff at the hotel told me that the desert was 50 km away from Jaisalmer.


On my way to the desert

It was the month of March - almost the end of tourist season, last few days for travel agents to make money, which left me with no bargaining option! I had to agree to the package price and I had to travel alone. 
     
Both my chauffeur and the hotel manager tried their level best to make me feel comfortable about the fact that I was going to the desert alone. The chauffeur was quite chatty. He didn’t keep quiet, even for a minute. He told me how a girl fell from a camel and got hospitalized. Obviously, that piece of anecdote added to my misery!

I had mixed feelings about the lonesome desert safari that I was going to take. I had my fears, but at the same time, I was eager to see the desert. It was my first ever desert safari. I had never ever sat on a camel before.


My camel waiting for me

I reached the desert quite sooner than I expected. When my cabby stopped the car and asked me to get down, I was a little taken aback.  There were two camel owners with their respective camels. One of them gave me a weird look. But I got down anyway, because I had to. What else had I come for? I nervously went to my camel and sat on it with the owner’s help. I was scared, but I followed their instructions.

I was stiff for a while. I thought to myself that what am I doing here? I couldn’t see a soul around and I am riding on a camel in the heat of the day with two strangers! It doesn’t sound very sane. But, it was rewarding!


Two strangers and me

The two owners were riding on one camel and they made me ride on the other one on my own. They were riding ahead of me. They understood my nervousness, and thus, ensured that I was at ease. One of them said, “Look around and enjoy. Keep fear at bay!”

Gradually, I was okay with the camel and the desert. They thought that I was nervous about the camel ride, but my anxiety was more to do with the feeling of desertion. There were barely any tourists around.    


A conversation with my camel owner

There was a drift in my emotions when we halted for a recess. I got down from the camel and sat in the sand to take rest. My camel owner offered me water and settled down to recline under a bush. That was ‘the moment’ of my excursion. My anxiety had turned into joy.

I asked him about their way of life, where they lived and other usual things. While I chatted with him, I realized how fortunate I was and what a tough life they led. For me, it was such an exciting deal to experience a camel safari in a desert, but for them, it was a daily routine. I wondered at how hard they worked to earn a meal on their platters.

The camel guy kept asking me if I was enjoying. He cared for my fun. It is something to reckon with. I mean, they do the same toilsome job every day with the same undeterred spirit.


A different world

I was at ease! Yes, after moments of a little jerky camel ride, somewhat scorching sun, feeling of vagueness and recklessness I had slipped into an unspoiled world of purity, respect and beauty. What I experienced was not something ordinary. I was bestowed upon so much of care and warmth by illiterate strangers in a deserted land.  


Two little boys

The camel safari ended around dusk. I was left at a point where I could sit and gaze at the sunset. Now I was happier because I got to see other tourists also. It was a picturesque atmosphere – camels sprawling after a hard day, tourists all set to be numbed by the twilight hues and I was ready to pounce on the orange sun with both my cameras.

Balancing childhood mischief with the need to earn 

While I was taking pictures, a couple of little boys came up to me with a hope of getting a chocolate. Unfortunately, I did not have any. I told them so, but they were determined to get a chocolate from me. They told me quite boldly that I should check my bag and I should find one for sure. As I really wanted to give them something, I gave a 10 rupee note to both of them respectively and told them to buy a chocolate for themselves.


Later, I discovered that the little boys were actually camel riders. I saw them taking their tourists on their camels. I was amazed at such innocence and mischief, yet a sense of responsibility to earn.


As the sun set, camel owners left their respective tourists at the desert resort and went on their ways. They lived in the nearby villages. All of it seemed so surreal – the way things melted.

Leaving behind the lasting impressions in my heart

It was more than an expedition for me – I learned so much. From braving my way alone to a desert for the first time in my life to glimpsing at ‘life’ in the desert, which is an adventure for us, but a mundane reality for the inhabitants there.

Have you ever traveled alone to a desert and come back with heart-touching memories?

52 comments:

  1. Must have been an amazing experience.
    Your clicks says it all & so does your well written description.:D
    Nice post Renuka!:)

    http://aficionadolog.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks a lot, Nikhil :) Yup, it was an amazing safari and being solo added to its adventure.

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  2. You took me to a desert safari through this post. You must have had a wonderful experience :)

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    1. Thanks Uma :) I am glad to know that! Yes, it was my greatest solo trip!

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  3. perfectly documented and written.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Paresh :)

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  4. A place worth revisiting!
    Great pics. Reminds me of my visit there.

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    1. Thanks Indrani :) I'm glad you could reminisce your visit.

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  5. Nice Pics and looks like You had enjoyed it a lot. . . A G+ for ur Post and Have a Nice Day. . . :)

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    1. Yeah I enjoyed a lot! Thanks so much :)

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  6. Stunning photos and what a memorable experience! Adding it to my Bucket List.

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    1. Oh that's great! I am sure you are going to have a wonderful time in Jaisalmer and the desert. Thanks Annette:)

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  7. so nicely described .......it felt like you are orally describing the experience :) loveed it ...and pictures are awesome !!!! left me spellbound :)

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    1. Thanks Reenu :) I'm glad you enjoyed it! Hope you experience the same in future!

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  8. One of the best post of yours!! simply superb :) loved the boys pic and the last one :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Anjum :) Yeah the experience was close to my heart and I guess, that reflected in the write-up.

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  9. A very good post..thanks for sharing your experience, you really are a storyteller.. I m waiting to experience this on my own :-)

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    1. Solo safari in the desert was really special :) Hope you experience the same or even better soon!

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  10. Awesome post Renuka. Traveling alone is sure a different kind of experience and a lovely one indeed. It is great to read that how everyone helped and made you feel comfortable. I have never been to Jaislamer, but I will go there soon.

    Cheers! Once again, a lovely post.

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    1. Thanks so much, Himanshu :) Please do visit Jaisalmer and the desert...it's a great experience!

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  11. Wow...that was daring enough to travel alone.... Sometime you miss out to have fun when you r alone... When all these incidents which takes place with women...you get more scared

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    1. Yeah, it's daring to travel alone, but one has to be cautious. Thanks for visiting my blog :)

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  12. It sounds like quite a unique experience. I certainly think going in the late afternoon / evening is a good idea due to desert heat. Riding on a camel is quite an experience although I initially found it weird to get used to the sitting position. For how many hours were you on the camel?

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    1. Yeah, desert safari was a very unique experience. :) I think it was for an hour.

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  13. Oh my! this is amazing. I will definitely try Safari in the desert

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    1. Thanks Jef :) Yeah please do try....It is an amazing experience!

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  14. yes! desert safari is an amazing experience..the photos looking fantastic. such remarkable tour..
    Thanks for sharing..

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    1. Thanks MastHoliday :) Especially a solo desert safari is uniquely amazing!

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  15. Great tour!! desert safari in Rajasthan has one of the most place in the India tours.
    Thanks for sharing, Ranuka!
    Interesting post..

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    1. Welcome Ajay Kumar :) Thanks for visiting my blog :) My name is Renuka and not Ranuka :)

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    2. Sorry!! but yours most welcome..

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  16. Awesome pics and a great post! loved it.. Now I want to go to Rajasthan too :)

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    1. Thanks Arpan :) Rajasthan is an awesome destination.

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  17. I love the pictures of the camels resting! I would definitely have been nervous, but it seems like the trip was worth it.

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    1. Thanks Jess :) Yup, the trip was worth it indeed!

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  18. I loved your pictures Renuka. I had spent a night in Thar desert when the RTDC still had a camp near Jaisalmer (I heard they closed it, not sure though). Walking through the dunes under a full moon is my single-most magical desert memory.

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    1. Thanks Anwesha :) Your experience sounds magical! I'll definitely go there again and experience 24 hrs in the desert - sunrise, heat of the day, sunset and then moonlight. :)

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  19. Replies
    1. Thanks Muza-chan :) It was easy clicking nice pictures - the place was so good!

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  20. Definitely an amazing experience. Nice clicks too.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/

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    1. Thanks Niranjan :) Yes, desert safari was exceptionally good!

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  21. Nice photos, looks like a fun adventure!

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    1. Thanks Michael :) That's true! It was a fun safari adventure. :)

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  22. Luxury vehicles, such as a sedan or limousine, need a person to drive it. A Sri Lanka Chauffeur is a person who is hired to drive these luxury cars.

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  23. Hi Renuka,

    Thanks for sharing your amazing experience! Beautiful pictures :) Traveling through Southeast Asia, one thing I really admire about these young souls they have so much potential! Really enjoyed reading your post

    Thanks
    Annie ox

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    1. Thanks so much, Annie! :-) The desert safari was truly special!

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  24. I have to admit I don't always agree with you, but in this case you really hit the nail on the head.
    desert safari

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  25. Hello Renuka.
    I'm dying to do the exact same trip. I live in Mexico City and I've been to India before, but I've never been to the dessert. Would you mind sharing the details of your trip (hotel, tour, etc)? I'm planning to travel solo as well, so any help would be highly appreciated. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Veronica,

      Great to know that you want to travel solo. Rajasthan is a great solo destination. I stayed at one of the hotels in the Golden Fort premises. You can pick any one of the many guest houses and hotels there. Make sure to compare rates before you check in.

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  26. I am going to Rajasthan with Ajinkya tours rajasthan tour packages and this is very useful information for me!

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  27. Best Desert Safari Deals available at: https://www.dreamnighttours.ae/ and Summer Desert Safari packages at: http://www.godesertsafari.com/

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  28. Nice travel blog Renuka. This is very useful. Contact me for if you are planing to visit Sri Lanka. I am an expert :)

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