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My first camel riding adventure did not take place in Morocco, Egypt or Mongolia… it took place last year in India! But in the Rajasthan region of northern India, where the environment is arid and hot, you see Quasimodo animals as native to the region as cows pulling wagons.
Taking a camel safari in Jaisalmer
In the far outskirts of the forted city of Jaisalmer, I took a sunset camel safari into the Thar Desert with the acclaimed “Camel Man”. A group of us drove out by jeep; whereupon our arrival to the camp, we mounted our camels and rode out to the Thar Desert. (see video below)
Once in the sand dunes, we docked to watch the sunset, and imbibed upon some refreshing chai and desert snacks as we watched the sun disappear into the dunes. Desert life holds many mysteries- the survival of desert insects, the formation of dunes, the meditative desolation which offers solace, its people… and the cleaning of dishes with sand. As always, my time was too short- next time, I’d love to do an overnight desert camping tour!
How to Ride a Camel
It’s not as easy as it appears in movies. Riding a camel is slightly different from an elephant. Instead of mounting the camel from a ladder or a high platform as you would an elephant, you mount a camel in the fashion you would a resting horse. Straddling a saddle (padded with a bundle of wool blankets) strapped to the camel’s hump, you will hold on for dear life, as the camel stands up with its hind legs first.
A sharp vertical slide forward on your seat is usually accompanied by your scream of surprise, as you will feel as if you’re going to slide right off- Whoa!
While an elephant sways left to right, a camel’s movement is mostly forward vertical lurches. Neither are particularly comfortable as you almost always feel like your butt cheeks are occasionally exercising a tight grip with its seat, to balance and leverage the animal’s shifting of weight.
While I wouldn’t say riding any animal is 100% (with these tours, sometimes added precautions such as seat belts can be merely a makeshift rope belt to hold you in or down), just look at all the tourists lined up before you and access your odds there!
Information on taking a camel safari in Jaisalmer
My half day Sunset tour cost about $14-15 with a full day averaging around $25. Not a bad spend, right? My tour was booked through my hotel Shahi Palace. Alternate recommendations for camel tours can also be found in Lonely Planet Guides and Rough Guides.