Wednesday, 15 July 2015 20:45

Shadows of a Safari

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Additional Info

  • Country: India
  • City: Thar Desert
  • Year: 2015
  • Author: Luca Fecarotta

Jaisalmer is one of the most famous cities of the state of Rajasthan. It’s also known for the many Safari tours to the Thar Desert that leave from here. Once arrived here in the company of my dear French friend, traveler like me, the first thing done was book one of these tours.

I spent 3 nights among the sands of the Thar Desert riding a camel through gipsy villages, dunes and endless expanses of.. nothing. The price that you can find is about 800-1000 rupees if you book from Jaisalmer; moving to a small town near Jaisalmer, you can find cheaper prices.

What can I say about this experience? Definitely interesting but in some ways a bit disappointing. First of all an advice I would give would be to limit its duration to only 2 nights, because, from personal experience, the third day results pretty pointless and boring. Basically we spent more time in the shade of a tree doing nothing but sweating for the heat and fighting against the flies. The guide didn’t show us anything, either because there was not, either because of laziness. The season of tours was actually almost over, and the heat had already dried up the few oases in the area. Maybe in another time of the year also the third day would be enjoyable.

Second point that you have to bear in mind is that the Thar desert is certainly not comparable to the Sahara or the Gobi in terms of spectacularity of landscape and dunes. Rather, the landscape is quite flat, where the dunes are few and not of great visual impact. Furthermore, the scenery is very ruined also from the countless and annoying amount of huge helices for the production of wind energy. Sometimes you wonder if you really are in a desert or in a power station.

Then, If you think that ride a camel is an exciting experience, I can tell you that, unless you consider exciting to be led around by a guide walking, like a dog on a leash, it could quite disappoint you. Considering the fact that due to the excessive heat of the period, the hours of actual "Safari" were limited to less than 4 per day, the disappointment could be even bigger. If you're a guy, an important advice that i give you is to be careful to how you "land" on the camel during the ride: you can be forced to give up your future sexual activities… forever.

Telling of my experience, we were a small group of only three people plus a guide who wasn’t the best in introduction and explanation of the life of the place... never a word. Two French and one Italian, perhaps is not a group very well assorted. Honestly there has been a bit of tension in the first half of the trip. As often happens when the majority of the group comes from the same country, the spoken language becomes that of that place (in this case French)… thing that I can not stand and I find rude. Then we add that one of the two was speaking like a chatter box without ever shut the hell up, and the situation soon became quite unbearable. I admit, however, that the scorching heat has made all the limits of tolerance more fragile. But it's also true that if there is something that you don’t have to do, unless you wanna piss an Italian off, is to compete on the quality of the cuisine and the food... especially if you're French.. LOL. Fortunately, my dear friend Yohann is a guy who always manages to make fun every situation and place. So we spent a lot of the “dead” time playing Domino, giving us many moments of fun.

The best part of the tour are the nights spent sleeping on the sand under the sky of the desert (unfortunately, being the period of full moon, the stars were much less visible). For me, sleep on the dunes after making a small fire for cooking, is what makes this tour worthwhile. It's also the reason why, despite the problems, I was able to appreciate and I can recommend this experience.
Forget visiting the gipsy villages.. after a couple of them you have gotten enough, just for the fact of being systematically and literally assaulted by teams of children very well trained in begging money.

It’s interesting to see how to survive in the desert, trying the flavors of the cuisine and adapting yourself to extreme weather conditions. But be sure that at night you will dream fresh water to drink and you will have nightmares about other chapati to eat. The desert life is tough and you need to be used to it, to appreciate it more; do not expect a relaxing trip.
You’ll sweat all day, you’ll stink, you will always eat the same tasteless thing, your mouth will be permanently dried, you will have the whole body sore and perhaps at night you will be surrounded by huge and disgusting beetles desert (for me a nightmare); but if you don't think about all this, you can enjoy wonderful moments that only these places can give you.

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