Camel Safari

Trip Start Jun 09, 2003
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Trip End Jun 02, 2007


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Flag of India  ,
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Well what a fun three days we had in the desert. We were picked up from our hotel at about 9am on Monday morning. We went to see some historical buildings which were pretty impressive before we were dropped off in the desert. We were introduced to our guides - Rahman and Bilal and our camels - 4 young men called Papu, Papu (yes there were 2 Papus), Kalu and Sonia (yes Sonia was a boy too!). We donned our turbans and mounted our camels. After half an hour I was in agony. Your legs are pulled down by gravity on either side of the camel with no stirrups for support and the camel actually prevents gravity from pulling you down - as a result you feel like you're about to be split in 2. Thankfully we stopped for lunch after an hour. It was fun just relaxing in the desert for a couple of hours under the shade of a tree - the Thar desert seemed to have a lot of trees for a desert. We got back on our camels for another 2 hour ride, I ended up riding side saddle as I was in so much pain. We stopped at some sand dunes and watched a magnificient sunset. Rahman decided that he would rename us all, Jolene became Julie/Julia, Steve became known as Tommy/Donny/Tony and I became Bubbly. We renamed Rahman and Bilal Mr Happy and Mr Jiggly. So to aid confusion I will use these names for the remainder of this entry! We had dinner of veg and rice before crawling under a tarp and some blankets and falling asleep under the stars.

Tuesday morning dawned bright and early, I hadn't slept all that well, it was warm but the sand was surprisingly uncomfortable. As we were enjoying a breakfast of toast and boiled eggs cooked for us by Mr Jiggly a snake charmer, minus the snake, came walking across the dunes, sat down and started making the most awful noise on his snake charmer thingy. It totally ruined the quietness of the desert. We were back on the camels for a couple of hours before stopping for lunch, once again under a big tree, next to a well. We were surrounded by about 100 sheep and goats also using the well. As Mr Jiggly was cooking lunch we noticed 2 little girls coming to the well for some water. They were dressed in bright neon orange saris which contrasted beautifully against the desert. They came across to talk to us. We went over to the well and tried to put their water pots on our heads. They were incredibly heavy and we couldn't balance them at all. The girls, who were 10 and 15, had no problems at all carrying the water! The girls headed back to their village about a mile away across the desert. About an hour later once we had finished our lunch they came back with a baby and a bottle of nail varnish. They proceeded to paint our toenails, fingernails, our feet and the backs of our hands - Tommy was spared this ordeal! The two girls then did some traditional dancing for us before we once again boarded our camel friends.

I ended up riding side saddle again as I was in so much pain, I swung back round to the front as we came to a hilly area - riding side saddle is quite scary when you're not on the flat. Anyway we're plodding across the desert and we notice a lone camel in the distance, having a munch on a tree. As we get closer I noticed an almost imperceptible increase of speed from Papu as I turned to Julia and asked if she thought it was a girlie camel. Just as she was saying perhaps it was, Mr Happy shouted out, "It's a girl!". Not too worried at this turn of events we kept plodding towards the tree. As we neared the tree both Papu and Sonia both started to trot. Oh-oh! Mr Happy shouted at us to pull in the reins. Julie managed to get Sonia to stop, but Papu was off. As he trotted round the tree, the girlie camel obviously decided she didn't like the look of Papu, 'cos she took off at top speed across the desert! Papu decided to give chase and started galloping after her! This was the point where I started to panic. Clinging on for dear life to the tiny handle at the front of the saddle while trying to pull in the reins was not fun or easy! We came out from behind the tree and we were off! Mr Happy and Mr Jiggly were screaming at me to pull in the reins. I eventually managed to pull the reins all the way in, while still clinging on and still Papu gave chase. Mr Happy came racing across the desert and leapt in front of Papu, yelling something in Hindi. Papu skidded across the desert to a halt - all my belongings went flying over his head - I've no idea how I didn't fly over his head - but I managed to hold on. Tony said it was quite possibly the funniest thing he had ever seen.

After our little adventure I was grateful we only had another 10 minutes 'til we reached our overnight stop - once again in the sand dunes. A guy came wandering up to our camp, and I said to Julia wouldn't it be wonderful if he had some Pepsi. Would you believe it, in the middle of the desert, this guy had a bag full of bottles of pepsi! We had a campfire tonight and sat around singing all the songs we could remember before once again crawling under our blankets. I lay for hours just watching the stars - saw a huge shooting star that shot right from one side of the sky to the other leaving a huge big green sparkly trail in its wake - awesome.

I was glad that we'd decided only to do a 3 day safari as by day 3 I was shattered. We woke up before the sun rose, it was amazing watching the desert get light before the sun came up. It was another few hours on the camels, I walked for a little bit 'cos my legs were so sore. We reached our pick up point and Donny and I decided to take a walk to a nearby ruined village. It was an old Brahmin Village which had been abandoned 80 years previously, it was quite eerie wandering around.

We then got picked up and we headed back to Jaisalmer where we enjoyed cakes at the German bakery - heaven after 3 days of vegetable curry and chapatis.
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