The Great Indian Desert of Thar is one of the largest deserts in the world and extends across 200,000 square meters of land. The harsh sub tropical terrain surprisingly is home to several local tribes who thrive in this punishing environment. Reportedly the desert region is home to nearly 40% of Rajasthan’s population and they share this habitat with native wildlife, trees and a multitude of birds of prey.
Visitors can enjoy an authentic desert experience at any of the cities that are located in the Thar. While it is possible to camp out at the desert to literally adopt the lifestyle of the natives for a couple days, tourists may also choose for luxury accommodations at the nearest city and opt for a day tour of the desert. While, choices are aplenty it is important to plan the trip in advance and work with a trustworthy “Rajasthan tour operator” to book a spot at the camping site!
That said let’s take you through the key desert destination in this state, which include Jaisalmer(the Golden City), Jodhpur (the Blue City), Jaipur (the Pink City), Udaipur (City of Lakes), Bikaner, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh and Barmer. Manvar, Khuri, Hacra, Khimsar also prove excellent camp sites.
The city of Jaisalmer and its surroundings offer a great opportunity for visitors to appreciate the endless stretches of sand, occasional sand dunes, quaint villages and the local lifestyle, food and culture. Camping out at Sam Sand Dunes or other desert camps is a pleasant get away from the humdrum of the cityscape. While jeep safaris prove a quick and comfortable way to explore the desert terrain, camel safaris allow tourists to leisurely soak in the desert terrain as they move across the land from one village to another, catching up on much needed rest, and enjoying local food and folk music and dances en-route. Both short and extended Safari trips are organized. Sunrise and sunset on the desert make a perfect picture postcard shot! Plan your trip to coincide with the Annual Desert festival for a memorable desert experience. A visit to the Jaisalmer Fort, Tanot Mata Temple or Desert National Park can also prove a great way to explore this landscape.
Jodhpur is yet another desert destination replete with all facilities for tourists to explore the Thar Desert. One day Jeep tours of the desert offer a glimpse of local villages, lifestyle, food and other places of interest along the route. Desert camps also prove a valuable experience, especially at the camp site in Osian oasis which is also home to an exquisite temple complex. Jeep Safaris, Camel safaris, Dinner and entertainment packages in the desert setting, Camping trips, and Bishnoi village safaris are but a few other choices available to best experience this land and its culture.
Compared to the former destinations, Jaipur may not offer as many options to explore vast sandy expanses of the Desert. However it is possible to catch a glimpse of the spectacular terrain by booking a jeep safari at Dausa, just 55 km from Jaipur. The tour may also include a few other local attractions or a trip through the Sariska reserve before moving off the roads to hit the desert, and a few quaint desert villages.
Desert experience in the City of Lakes may probably sound unreal but Camel Safaris organized by several tour operators can make it quite exciting. Traversing the desert as a team, camel masters, tent pitchers and cooks is probably a great way to experience a nomadic lifestyle out there in vast expanses of sand. One day tours usually include a camel trip to a village set in the interiors of the desert, where tourists can meet the villagers and look around the traditional home, village school etc. Lunch, Dinner and a folk music and dance events are also usually a part of these safaris.
Bikaner also offers an excellent insight into the Desert lifestyle. It is possible for visitors to explore the desert and camp out in the sands for a first-hand experience of this bare, harsh yet mesmerizing terrain. Villages Panpalsar, Bamblu, Raisar are just a few traditional villages where visitors can catch a glimpse of the rustic lifestyle, people clad in colourful clothes, mud houses adorned with typical decorations, children at the local school and several other routine scenes. Overnight desert camping usually include dinner around a bonfire and music and dance performances by folk artists. The Camel breeding farm in the vicinity of Bikaner, which is open to visitors between 3 and 5 pm, and the Namkeen factory at Bikaner, could prove an interesting diversion.
Tour operators in each and every city bordering the desert either have a dedicated Desert Tourism Package or include desert safaris as a part of their regular tour plans. Irrespective of whether you spend a couple of hours, the entire day or an entire week, moving off the well-travelled routes into the seemingly endless Thar and spending time out in the open is a great experience indeed! Desert landscape has a special appeal during dawn and dusk, and so does camping under the skies! Families travelling with children or elderly could stay in the cities and opt for short tours into the desert region.