We headed back to Hotel Mirage to tell our host Ba that we had booked a safari elsewhere, but he helped us book our A/C bus to Udaipur which was great. After a nice dinner at a local rooftop restaurant, where we spotted a Spanish group who we had seen on our train and around town that day, we decided to head up to Sunset Rooftop Café which boasted the best views of the sunset and fort from its terrace. We ordered a beer between us and sat and watched yet another typically colourful Indian sunset, blow our minds, while spotting some tourists complete with cameras and tripods capturing the scenery from other surrounding rooftops. I love Indian sunsets! After the magic, we headed back to have an good night’s sleep (which ended up being an unbearably hot night’s sleep) and pack for our early camel safari start the next day!
We had booked our one and a half day tour to fit into our schedule which was easily done with Ganesh Travels- recommended by the Lonely Planet, for 1250 Rupees or almost €20 which included the jeep safari to the desert, meals and unlimited water. We opted to join a group which we felt would be a great way to meet people and make new friends. We left our bags in Ganesh Travels, where we were promised use of their showers etc when we returned free of charge, and headed upstairs to have breakfast and meet our group. In our group we met a couple from Belgium, 3 guys and a girl from Spain, a guy from Mumbai but living in Canada and two South Korean guys, all of whom were so friendly when we met. It was funny because we kept bumping into the Spanish group and we came to realise they had also been on our train to Jaiselmar. We took two jeeps to the desert which took about an hour, and once we arrived we were assigned our camels and met our guides and cooks. We set off on our camels which are always quite daunting even if you have been on a camel before. It took a while to trust our camels and feel comfortable, but It was particularly scary when the Belgian ladies camel, recognised its sitting area and suddenly went off track and lay down, throwing her off abrubtly. Fair play to the lady, who got straight back up and carried on. I know I would have been terrified, and believe me I was hoping neither my camel ‘Ben’ nor Eliza’s camel ‘Humphrey’ (both named by us) would follow in Its footsteps, which luckily didn’t happen. We trotted along for an hour or so melting in the hot desert sun, before laying the camels down, hopping off and taking a breather in a local desert village shop. There we were, more than 9 of us crowded into the local lady’s’ shop purely for the fan she had producing sweet cool air to our clammy selves, and leaning into her ice cold fridge throwing drink orders at her like we never seen soda before. We called it heaven in the desert, and that was the moment we all bonded!
We got back on our camels after fully refuelling on ice cold drinks, and carried on through the Thar Desert of India where our next stop would be under a large shady tree, perfect for lunch. After a few more hours of trekking, and with numb bums, we were all relieved to get to the large tree. Shade- another thing you seriously appreciate when in the steaming hot desert! Here, our guides and cooks lay down some blankets for us and they began cooking our authentic Indian meals from scratch, while we all mingled over travel stories and such. It was the first time we had a chance to sit down and have a proper chat with each other and we learned a lot about each other here. It was interesting to talk about previous travels, future plans and what brought us to India! After lunch/siesta, we boarded our camels once again and set off into the sunset towards the sand dunes, where we would camp for the night. It was on this stretch of safari that my crazy camel Ben, kept trotting out of line, and instead preferred to be alongside Eliza’s camel Humphrey. This then meant that my leg was getting trapped in between the two camels and was constantly being whacked off the hard tools that the camel was also carrying. It was at one point that my shoeless, free hanging foot, swung right into Humphreys ass thanks to the efforts of Ben, which left me dumbfounded and desperately wanting a shower. It also had me calling our guide for help who in turn just called back instructions to us, which didn’t help me tame Ben, because number one, I couldn’t reach the reigns and number two I was certainly not going to ride solo with him. After a bit of help from Eliza who could reach Bens reign, he got back in line and all was right with the world. We stopped off one last time to take our camels for some water before we would camp for the night. It was here that, in mid walk to the large well, I felt dizzy, lightheaded and the strong feeling I was going to faint. I had been drinking water all day but the heat got to me and made me feel as though something was going to happen. It’s a scary feeling just before you faint, when the once near sounds now appear distant, your sight starts to decline and you suddenly feel weakness coming on. Lucky enough, as I sat down by the well (probably not a good spot for a near fainter)and drank some of Eliza’s water and had a bourbon biscuit for some sugar, I felt slightly better. I moved over to the shade where tonnes of village kids gathered around to stare at the situation. I was kind of glad I didn’t faint at this stage, and was glad to have had some sugar in my blood to keep me going. God bless Bourbons!
I made sure to thank god for making me feel better before I had to ride on my camel to the dunes, as I don’t know what would have come of me If we hadn’t made that stop, and I fainted off the camel’s back. The sun started to go down as we made our way through the desert, passed the numerous wind turbines, ending with a view of the dunes just before sunset. When we arrived, some of the group sat down and some of the group went and took pictures. The sunset appeared colourful under the clouds that night which was beautiful, but once the sun slept for the night, darkness was our new best friend. It was only for one of the Korean boys flashlight that we could even converse with each other face to face. The guides took drink orders from us, and in true English Irish style, we were the only ones ordering beer instead of water/soda. It wasn’t until later on that the others would feel slightly envious of this. One of the guides was planning to ride off to the next town on his camel and purchase the huge list of beverages for us which arrived an hour or two later when we were all huddled in a sheltered dune having dinner. We had to be sheltered as a sand storm had come our way and sitting in the open air was not an option. There we were huddled by the stove, dressed in scarves and sunglasses to save the sand from taking over our eyes and mouths. It was hilarious! We chatted about two of the Spaniards about how they had lived in Ireland among other topics such as deadly scorpions, snakes and wild dogs which lurked in our new home for the night. We tried not to think about it for the night and the beer certainly helped with that. Later we moved back to the camping area where some of the others went to sleep in the camp beds provided for us, while the rest of us gathered around for more chats about everything. That night we made new friends and new memories, and learned a lot about each other and our countries, which Is always a travellers muse. Eventually we all went off to our beds, where we tried to sleep and not think about the prospective danger around us.
The next morning woken by the sunrise, we got up and sat around in a circle for our freshly prepared breakfast of boiled eggs and toast. I love eggs so I had 3! We set off on our camels again, this time me with Humphrey and Eliza went solo with Ben. It was a very relaxing trot through the desert until the familiar pain came back from sitting on the camel all day yesterday. I couldn’t help but think how my first week of yoga would go. Ouch! The safari came to an end at a good time and I thanked my lucky stars I hadn’t booked the 3 day tour as I don’t think I would have walked again, had I done that! Nevertheless, the experience overall was so great and we were lucky with the group we met over the day and a half. We took the jeep safari back to Jaiselmar where we then all headed to Ganesh to get our bags and take a shower. It took quite a while for 9 people to use one shower though, as you can imagine, and once we were all done, It was definitely time to eat! We all went to The Sunset Café for lunch and some chill time in the air conditioned, cushioned restaurant, before we each left for our next port of call. Some to Delhi, some to Jodhpur and in our case, Udaipur.
We had a few hours before our bus to Udaipur so we relaxed for a while and then went and ordered take away pizza from 8July Restaurant for our 12 hour journey. The journey to the bus station and on to the bus was pretty smooth, which isn’t always the case in India, but this seemed to be fine. We looked forward to a nice relaxing bus journey and always liked the long journeys as you could get a good night’s sleep on them. Well from now on I won’t be taking buses after our experience to Udaipur. Our last bus ride had been dreadful and we should have known, but we had no choice but to take it this time. We hopped on our A/C luxury bus and settled into our double sleeper comfy bed. Little did we know, It would be the journey from hell. I think the only way to describe this horrendous bus journey would be to imagine 12 hours of speed bumps , the whole way to Udaipur. Speed bumps in India are small but deadly and when you go over them weather in a sleeper bus, a rickshaw or whatever, you are lifted right off your seat and thrown back down again. This happened literally the whole entire way to Udaipur and my head was so bashed in the next morning that I didn’t know If I was coming or going. Needless to say that our bodies were in total states of shock from the trauma. I think I may have caught some sleep on the short stopovers we had encountered along the way though, thinking ‘Get some sleep quickly, quickly before it starts moving again’. It was a horror story! Luckily we are booking sleeper trains to Mumbai and Goa following our experience which always prove to be somewhat relaxing. Its hard to believe that arriving in Udaipur would be our last stop in Rajasthan, and our third last stop together as a travelling duo.
Let’s make the most of it!