We chose to book our camel trek with our hotel, as the reviews matched those of Trotters and various other companies, the staff were amazingly helpful, and it was obviously convenient. we booked for 2 days and one night, and we seriously got our money’s worth!
At 8am, a guy from the hotel took us by jeep to the starting point of the trek, which took about 40 minutes. When we arrived, our camels and camel guide were sitting waiting for us. There was only the two of us on the trek so it was really nice that we could do whatever we wanted at our own pace. The camel guy was just LOVELY! I have honestly never met a nicer man. (well, maybe I have, but seriously, what an awesome guy!!) he introduced us to our camels. Mine, the younger one, was called Carlu, Brendan’s was Carlia, and the guide’s was Mehindra.
Before mounting the camels, he wrapped turbans around our heads and loaded up the saddles. Then we had to hop on, and it was a pretty scary experience when the camel first rose to its calloused knees, and then used it back legs to push up further. (I remember very vaguely when I was about 6 years old, riding a camel with my mum in Tunisia, and remember screaming at the top of my lungs when the camel stood up).
The camels were tied together one behind the other by either their noses or with a loose rope around Carlu’s neck. I was at the back. At first I was a bit scared that Carlu was a little distressed, but I later saw just how well these camels were cared for and treated and was completely reassured. I also definitely believe that Carlu and I had a special bond. A belief stemmed from the fact that I was eventually allowed to stroke him any time I wanted, but Mehindra and Carlia would turn their massive heads suddenly towards me or Brendan when we tried to stroke them.
In the morning we trekked for 4 hours, in which time we visited our camel guide’s house for chai, and we visited a large pool of water that all the nearby animals use to drink. Our camel guide was adamant that our camels drink something before we trek again, and despite their initial resistance, they eventually obeyed. We then walked around the nearby village before trekking again until we came to a large, shady tree, where we dismounted, and had awesome food cooked for us by the camel guide, who taught us how to make chapatti. We also had a little nap while the camels grazed on nearby trees, and we set off again at 3.30. This rest was mainly due to the fact that this was the hottest part of the day.
Rested up, and with the sun a little lower, we trekked for another 2 and a half hours, until we came upon a large stetch of sand dunes, where we dismounted, watched the sun set, played in the sand, and met some Canadian people who were eating dinner with us. We saw our camp beds set up on the sand dunes, thankfully away from the MILLIONS of HUGE, black, armoured beetles (which thankfully didn’t fly, but did accompany us for dinner!!!). The Canadians left after dinner by jeep and Brendan and I camped under the stars. I was a little terrified after seeing all the beetles, but they didn’t come as high up the sand dunes as our beds were. I also have to say, that this was the absolute best night’s sleep I had had in such a long time. The night was nice and cool and the camp beds were pretty bouncy and comfortable. We were also given nice thick blankets.
Because we had gone to bed so early (probably about 10pm – latest!), it was the most amazing feeling to wake up, completely rested, to see the sun rise straight in front of us! While watching this in awe, our guide brought us chai before bringing us breakfast in bed! Sleeping in the desert has to be one of my favourite experiences in India… Possibly in my life.
We spent the rest of the morning, until 12pm trekking on our camels again, feeling a little sore. During this time, we visited another village which we began to walk around until, suddenly, we were spotted. We walked past a small school where there were so many people buzzing around and someone grabbed my hand pulling me into the crowd. Everyone was touching my arm, and trying to ask my name and country. Though feeling a little ridiculous in my huge red turban, everyone wanted photos taking with me, which Brendan had the pleasure of doing. The next thing, I was being dragged into a tiny room where there were men and women sitting on the floor. A lady holding a bowl of yellow powder, dipped her hands in and smeared my face in it, before saying “marriage” which pointing at a young guy. I was a little confused wondering whether I had just married him, so I vacated the room. Outside in the playground area, Brendan was being harassed for his camera, and it was only a matter of time before we were asked for money!! When we didn’t cough up due to lack of change, they got money off us by bringing us chai and charging for it. We made a quick exit out of the village and back to our camels and guide.
At 12pm, we reached another large shady tree under which we helped to cook lunch, and then headed over to where the jeep was waiting to pick us up and take us back to the hotel.
I felt really sad saying goodbye to Carlu and the camel guide. He wished us good luck in our lives and went merrily on his way. I have to say that I am so glad we went with our hotel’s camel trekking company. Most reviews we’d read of other camel treks say they only trekked for about 3 to 4 hours each day, but we must have trekked over 6 hours on our first day, and 4 hours the next day. It has to be said that the ‘desert’ isn’t actually in the middle of nowhere, and is actually not too far from the road, but it’s still completely worth it, and such an amazing experience.
We also learnt some camel language, including:
Brrrrrr YOP (Stop being silly, or It’s OK, I’m here)
Tsktsktsk (Sit down, or other commands)
A funny noise made from the back of the throat that I can’t actually do (Walk on)