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Camel Safari in India

INDIA | Saturday, 1 March 2014 | Views [1468]

“Ha!!!!!!!!! T he is checking you out. Look at him – Oh T… he is giving you the stare down.”

James was beyond excited about my hot desert date with Papu.

Meet Kalu, Lalu and Papu: 



Kalu is 10-years-old, reserved, content, patient, happy, polite, calm and wise.

The camel driver’s camel.




Lalu is 7-years-old, well-groomed, tolerable, boisterous and level-headed.

James’ camel.




Papu is 8-years-old, ADHD, restless, frisky, distractible, taller than the other two camels by about a solid foot, flatulent and bisexual.

This guy, this is my camel.


Meet Nongarem: 


Our guide, Nongarem, was India’s biggest sweetheart. He is a husband, father of two boys, and has been a camel driver for 15 years. He lives in a village about 30 km away from our starting point, with no electricity and water comes only from a deep well. He has a brilliant sense of humor, and is by far my favorite person in India.


I’m not sure we knew this, but riding a camel isn’t quite as comfortable as we had imagined. Especially when Papu was getting all hot and bothered as he thought he would lift Lalu’s floral skirt and stick his nose in places he shouldn’t the entire time.

I just sat on Papu watching him violate poor Lalu and couldn’t help but completely lose it. Nongarem wanted to know what was so funny, and the next three days went something like that.

We rode camels for several hours before setting up camp underneath a tree offering generous amounts of shade.


Nongarem was an absolute doll and was happy to see that I was more than interested in peeling garlic and potatoes, so happily offloaded some of his tasks. In exchange I got to investigate his cooking techniques and record recipes, which can be found here!!!!


First Nongarem gathered three rocks and placed them in a triangle, with dehydrated bushes laid underneath. He quickly started a fire with a single match and within seconds had a saucepan sizzling with chai.


He managed to whip up teas, curries and chapatis in under an hour.

It was incredible. Camping will never be the same and I can’t tell you just how excited I am to return to the beautiful Northwest and cook up some serious Indian cuisine while camping!

For lunch we had a potato dal curry, the recipe can be found here!


We lounged around underneath the trees getting pooped on by birds and guessing who would be hit next.

It was quiet. It was perfect.

We had packed absolutely nothing in our backpacks except TP for three days and we loved the feeling of being completely unplugged. We played dozens of games of cards before Nongarem told us to start packing up camp.


Papu and I had several serious hours of bonding. I fell off Papu once- I think because he is the tallest camel with the most aggressive hump and I was the smallest of us three. Papu and James got a good laugh out of it, and I suppose so did I.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 10.14.21 AM

Our three camels arrived at some lonely looking dunes at around 5 p.m. and Nongarem announced we would be spending the night there.

James and I loved it. I feel like a freak hippie announcing that I am all excited about sleeping in the sand, but I swear it was incredible. Nongarem suggested that James and I go explore the dunes with the help of the sun and he would start dinner.

James and I ran around the tops of the dunes, not able to see a soul except the sunshine and Papu escaping in the distance.


Time passed too quickly. Dark clouds rolled in and we found ourselves sitting atop the dunes getting drenched by temporary rain. The rain passed and we watched a breathtaking sunset.

We returned excited to help Nongarem with dinner, but to our amazement he had already finished cooking, cleaning, AND setting up our dining room and bedroom. He was adorable and I was so happy I think I cried.



Cabbage curry was incredible and overall the night was one of my favorites on this entire trip.

Monday, March 10, 2014

We woke up to the sun rising behind us on the dunes. A few leisurely hours were spent enjoying the peaceful dunes before we had tea and breakfast and packed up the camels.



It was an incredibly windy but beautiful day in the desert. During our lunch stop we had to dig a hole to create a fire and our card game was pretty entertaining.


IMG_0498The five guys and I then enjoyed a few more hours of camel riding in the afternoon. Note in the photo below how much taller my Papu is than the other two camels.


The camels hadn’t drank anything for the past 24 hours so we stopped at the local well and helped get water for our boys.


After more riding we arrived at some popular dunes that evening where many other groups also would make their home for the evening.



It was another perfect night spent in the desert and more and more I think travel has kicked the city girl right out of me.

Sunday, March 11, 2014

You’d think not having showered the past three days would have had us excited about getting back into a city.


We were quite resistant to the whole idea of concluding our peaceful desert stint.

We said goodbye to the boys in the late morning and headed back to the city where we would get on an overnight train to the capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur.


Thank you Sahara Travels and Nongarem for such an incredible experience we will treasure forever!

Tags: budget travel, camel, camping, desert, safari, thar dessert, travel, travel

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