Destinations, India, Travel, United States
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Slipping Through Sand and Stars: A Night in the Great Indian Desert

Wind whips my hair into a crazy tentacle frenzy as we ride into the desert. The windows are all down in the Bolero that zips past dry clouds of golden dust and Indian music filled with sitar and drums crackles out of the speakers. Cows create traffic jams on the otherwise empty road that leads us to our campsite. Suddenly we arrive to our oasis where we will join in a camel safari and all worries as to whether it would be the right decision dissolve. Beautiful grounds spread before us where peacocks strut in the brush and pink desert flowers bloom outside of our tent.

Our tent is more than a tent, it’s a mini palace surrounded by nature. A huge ceiling rises up over our king-size bed. I sink into it and realize it’s even more comfortable than my bed at home. Tiny lamps made of mosaic glass shine colored light onto each night stand. We are like children, checking out all the features of our home for the night. It’s the day before Christmas eve, but it feels like Christmas day and this our gift to ourselves.

  

After a masala tea and a short ride in the parched landscape, we find ourselves walking up to our camels resting between some desert brush. They chomp in a huge sideways motion and look at us with little interest. Brightly colored cushioned saddles don their humps as they blink their long eyelashes together. I’m the first to saddle up and as I lean back my camel rises to its 7 foot height with a deep guttural groan. “I’m on a camel!” I declare. Soon others take their places and we form a small band of riders on our humped friends.

Our camels, Pickle and Johnnie Walker, move over packed sand that gradually changes into loose. The camels plod on, moving with ease on the slowly rising dunes. I marvel over their gigantic feet pushing effortlessly through something that would leave me far behind. We eventually stop on top of a dune and dismount to the feel of golden powder between our toes. We pass the time until sunset sand boarding, dune climbing and watching beetles make patterns with their tracks. The sun hangs low and I watch it sink beyond the horizon line. It transforms into a puddle of light and then disappears.

Camel

We make our way back to camp and are greeted with marigold necklaces and live music. Guests sit on low beds with pillows and blankets as the band spills forth Indian music. Men play a harmonium and castanets while song fills the air around a fire. They don’t sing lightly, but with a rising tone that comes from the heart. A woman stands to dance holding her veil out as she circles the flames. Her feet stomp to the beat and the bracelets around her ankles ring with each step. The crowd is transfixed as she spins faster and faster. When she finishes we are all smiling and clapping, having been swept away by her rhythmic beauty.

As we wander back to our tent, we look up to see the sky shining bright with stars. Trying to spot familiar constellations in an unfamiliar land, our faces tilt towards Orion’s Belt. Thousands of miles from home, some things still remain. You and I, and the stars. This memory to be brought home across the world and shared down the road of this life.

Below is a small video clip from the live music played that evening:


Helpful Information:

Which tour company we chose – There are many companies that will take you out into the desert for a camel safari and more near Jaisalmer, we chose Damodra because of its high ratings on Trip Advisor. It was approximately $170 total. This included our luxurious tent, camel ride, tea, dinner, entertainment and breakfast for two. You can visit their site here.

Location: The desert camp is located in Rajasthan in the Thar Desert. We first stayed in the golden city of Jaisalmer for two nights before our desert camp excursion. It’s a great base and beautiful town to explore. We were able to store our bags at the Damodra office here while waiting for our trip to begin.

6 Comments

  1. Bruce & Pat Hawkins says

    Sheri; As always an amazing post! Your photography is brilliant and your story telling is amazing! Luv it! You keep me motivated to keep improving my own work! Hugs and much luv from Koh Phangan! Bruce & Pat

  2. JUNE HUCHINGSON PhD says

    SHERI … I THINK THIS INDIAN DESERT IS MY FAVORITE POST. IT IS SO EXOTIC AND BEAUTIFUL.
    WHAT AN ADVENTURE.
    YOU DESCRIBED EVERYTHING SO WELL, I FELT LIKE I WAS THERE.

    I’M GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE SOME OF THOSE PHOTOS TOO.
    ESPECIALLY THE ONE WITH THE SUN AND THE CAMEL
    WAY IN THE BACKGROUND OF THE DESERT.

    THANK YOU FOR SHARING THE INDIAN MUSIC BY VIDEO …
    WISH YOU COULD HAVE TAKEN A VIDEO OF THE WOMAN DANCING TOO.
    LOVE TO YOU,
    JUNE

  3. Hello Sheri,

    This is Kristin from Damodra Desert Camp. We are all so happy you had an enjoyable stay with us. Your blog and photos are just wonderful. Reading it was such a pleasure.

    Thank you so much. I have shared this with our staff, musicians and camel guides, all are very impressed with your photos and very happy you enjoyed.

    All the best to you in your travels.
    Come back and visit us again.

    Best regards,
    Everyone from Damodra Desert Camp

  4. Sue wood says

    Wow! I want to go! George and I spent some nights in the Moroccan Sahara Desert and often I think about the beauty of the constantly changing desert, and you capture it so well. And your camp looks luxurious… imagine that will be a memory you will often go back to. So inviting!

  5. Momsie says

    Wow! What a great adventure.. That looks like something I would do.
    You’ ll never forget it and this article belongs in a travel magazine.

  6. Celeste M Roe says

    Oh y gosh, Sheri, what an amazing adventure! Thank you for sharing it, and of , outstanding photos!
    Celeste

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