When you think of India, many images may come to mind, but few rival the image of setting off into the sunset on camel in the middle of the Great Indian Thar desert. We knew we wanted to spend a few days out in the desert, especially because majority of our travels are set on islands or in the mountains. This would be a first for us in terms of geography, if you’re not counting the couple days in Las Vegas 😉
Now it’s one thing to decide to have this experience, and another thing in choosing between the hundreds of tour companies touting they have the best experience. How can you be sure that you will get an authentic, safe experience that provides value for money? As you may read on many different websites, it can prove to be difficult to make a decision. From what we hear, it really is a 50/50 chance.
That’s why we are so glad we came across Pal Rajah Resort & Desert Camp in the Khuri Dunes. As we were doing research, we went to our go-to resource for India, TripSavvy, and found Pal Rajah Resort on the list of best desert camps in Jaisalmer. We reached out to them right away to see if they had availability and lucky for us, they did.
I’ll write up another blog post on what to look out for when choosing a desert camp in Jaisalmer, so watch out for that! But a big plus for us was that Pal Rajah Resort was located in the Khuri Sand Dunes and not the Sam Sand Dunes. Sam is much closer to Jaisalmer, making it the most popular route for the tour companies from Jaisalmer to take their groups. This means it can often be crowded, and you won’t get that “in the middle of nowhere” feel. Khuri Dunes are located about 1 hour from the city, and are much larger, so as you can imagine, it’s quieter as well.
We got a look into their Mud Cottages during the day, which remained quite cool during the searing heat. The rooms are basic, but very clean, has a strong fan and spacious bathroom.
We slept one night in the Luxury Tents, which was quite the experience. Think more glamping, than pitching up in a small tent. The tent was so big, decorated with beautiful tapestries. The bed was surprisingly comfortable with soft pillows (this is a huge plus for Sam!)
The fan was really strong, but we didn’t even need it at night because it got so cool. This is unheard of for Sam to sleep without AC, let alone turning the fan off completely! The tent was super clean, well put together and most importantly, peaceful & quiet. The private bathroom & shower were spacious and well lit.
The coolest part about Pal Rajah is that they have their own private sand dune right next to the tents. No other desert camp that I saw in the area had this feature. It was awesome to wake up at sunrise and run out to the sand dune to watch the sun rise over camp.
Pal Rajah Resort Activities
Camel Sunset Tour
When we first arrived, we went on a Camel Sunset Tour, riding camels for about an hour before landing at a sand dune to watch the sun set. There were a few other guests there as well to enjoy the sunset together. Our tour guide was really nice, always making sure we were comfortable and happy.
Traditional Rajasthani Kirtan, Dancing & Dinner
One of my favorite parts about the whole experience was the dinner & dancing that welcomed us after we got back from our Came Sunset Tour. We were welcomed by a traditional Rajasthani tribal band and dancers, and we got to listen to their beautiful music all throughout dinner.
The dancers got a few of us up dancing, which was an amusing sight for the band I’m sure! After the dancing finished, we hit up the buffet, which was a delicious range of traditional desert food – mixed veg curry, chickpea dumpling, dessert and more.
Sunrise Jeep Safari
On our first morning, we jumped into the back of a Jeep for a Sand Dune Safari. The legendary Mr. Sodha took us out for an exhilarating ride through the sand dunes, zooming past huge mountains of sand. I definitely thought we were going to roll over at some stage, but it was such a good time.
Highly recommend taking the time to do a Jeep Safari while you’re there. A much more adrenaline-filled adventure than the slow moving camels. It was also really cool to drive through the more rural villages and see all of the kids running out to say hi. And seeing how the women walk to the wells and carry the jerry cans on their heads the whole way back.
Camel Overnight Safari
Finally, what we had come to the desert for – the camel safari! We left around 4 pm from the desert camp to ride the camels out to another large sand dune for sunset. This ride was unreal. We saw no other groups around us, which made us truly feel like the only people in the desert. We saw desert deer, some wild dogs and lots of insects. Once we reached the sunset sand dunes, we walked around the completely empty sand dunes, before settling up on the hill to watch the sun go down.
Our tour guide, Lakha, explained what it’s like to live out in the desert villages and what life is like as a “camel driver.” Once the sun was almost set, we got back on our camels to walk towards where we would camp for the night. Slowly, slowly, the desert got quiet and dark, and about 1 more hour later, we arrived at another set of sand dunes for camp.
We waited there for 30 minutes, before Pal Rajah staff met us by Jeep to drop off the mattresses & our dinner. Now many tours cook your dinner over a fire and hand make all of the food in front of you, which would have been a really cool experience. So you may want to request for this if that’s something you want to experience. Our dinner came freshly cooked from camp, and it was SO delicious, so we weren’t too disappointed.
After dinner, we set up our beds and laid down to watch the stars. The moon was so bright, it lit up the entire sky. Once the moon set later in the evening, the stars came out in full force. This view could rival the stars we’ve seen in New Zealand. We also saw a few shooting stars!
As it was the last night of Navratri, we could hear the tribal music going strong until the early hours of the morning, which was also really cool to experience. In the morning, the sun rose over the desert, as we were perched up on the hill. The cool morning air was soon welcomed after being in the desert heat for a couple days. It was a stillness I will never forget.
Only thing to note about camping, which goes for any camp. There will be a LOT of dung beetles and other insects. Be sure to cover yourself up before you go to bed. Like our friend Brad says, “wrap yourself in the blankets like a burrito.” This is to prevent the beetles to get into your bed or clothes. Also it may be worth to ask the camp for mattresses that are raised up off the ground. This will all be covered in my upcoming Desert Safari travel guide 🙂
Out of everything we experienced with Pal Rajah, this one thing will remain with us forever. The friendliness and kindness of the staff. From the servers to the chef, the manager to the camel drivers, everyone treated us like family. We spent a lot of time talking together and having a laugh, and it truly made our experience that much more special.
If you’re heading to Jaisalmer looking for a Desert experience you will not forget, be sure to check out Pal Rajah Resort! And tell them we say hello 🙂
A huge thank you goes to Pal Rajah Resort for our stay. We were guests for 2 nights in exchange for a review. As always, our reviews are honest and truly representative of our experience.