Have you ever slept open air on sand dunesafter cuddling baby goats all day?
Me niether until our trip to Thar Desert.
With nothing but a toothbrush, a clean pair of pants and the camera we were bundled in to the back of a Jeep at 8am and driven a long way to the middle of sandy nowhere. Rajasthani music blaring and not a soul in sight other than the occasional camel or troop of children on their long walk to school.
We made a quick stop to explore the ruins of an abandoned village. Deserted years ago by its residents who came under constant attack from the army after two of the village girls turned down a marriage request from the then Maharaja.
When they would return, again they were bombarded so eventually they gave up and moved on for good. Now after many years the village is being restored, purely for tourists. And the bats who cover every remaining ceiling.
The trip that we had booked included a visit to one of the small desert communities, lunch, camel riding to the dunes and then a night of dinner and camping. The cost was 4,400 rupees (£48) for both of us.
I didn’t love travelling on camels if I’m totally honest. They seem loved and are treated perfectly nicely and left to roam while we rested but I found it quite sad every time we passed a wild camel and wondered whether the ones we were riding knew that they had pulled the short straw.
We definitely got over excited when choosing the two day option. Totally disregarded the fact that it is currently 40 degrees in the shade in Jaisalmer. So as the only two people daft enough to ride two hours on camels in the sweltering desert heat, off we went.
The cute kids in the village were all very curious and walked around with us wanting to have their photo taken.
They absolutely loved seeing themselves on screen.
As did this little guy who was lazing with a huge herd of goats when we arrived to eat lunch under the same tree.
Most of them wandered off when we got there but the kids seemed quite excited to have us around and stayed all afternoon for cuddles.
Every now and then we’d hear a faint call from their elders in the distance and the little ones would call back and then nod off again.
Best part of the trip so far.
Anil was our lovely guide, he lived in the village that we passed through and has been taking tourists on desert safari’s for the last ten years, since he was 12.
He unpacked the camels, lay some blankets down, collected wood for the fire and made lunch for the three of us in the shade of the ancient tree. We tried and failed desperately to keep hydrated but the bottled water had almost boiled by the time we sat down and tasted a lot like the container it was packaged in, so it was a very thirsty affair.
By 4pm it had cooled down just enough for us to head to camp. We had been dozing and dreaming about cold drinks under the tree for four hours, parched. We had to head back to the village to collect some ice cold water which was stored in a compartment under the ground to keep it cool.
I can’t really explain how much relief came from that bottle of water.
I wasn’t built for Bear Grylls, that’s for certain.
Our spot for the rest of the night was hidden amongst a thousand golden sand dunes.
Seemingly uninhabited until the fire was started, then huge black beetles came from every direction and seemed to queue up around the camp, waiting for dinner. Creepy. But clever.
We managed to just about catch the sunset.
Then with the camels heading off in to the night and the dogs who’d followed us all day off catching beetles, we made our beds…
And settled around the campfire tucking into our plates of Thali.
It cooled down a lot after dark so we snuggled in with a cup of chai and nodded off almost right away.
Until 3am when G woke me up to see the Milky Way!
One hundred billion years of stars and light, all there glittering right above us.
The moon had completely disappeared and the universe was almost blinding.
It was the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen.
Then we woke up here.
We were given packet noodles and satsumas for Breakfast which the nomad dogs were thrilled about and after an hour of searching for the camels, we rode off into the sunrise.
It was a pretty amazing experience and something you should absolutely do if you get the chance to visit Jaisalmer.
My one piece of advice would be to wait until it’s not so hot and if it is Summer, the evening is the best bit so spare yourself the dehydration.