We’d heard very mixed things about camel safaris, and by mixed I mean mostly bad: “there’s loads of tourists”, “there’s litter everywhere”, “you mostly just ride your camel over scrub land next to a road” and “don’t do a long ride, it really hurts your nutsack!” were common things we’d heard. We were then understandably a little dubious when Ali had promised us perfect isolation, rolling, untouched dunes and no other tourists.
As it turns out, Ali may be many things: entrepreneur, hotelier, camel driver and high as a kite (most of the time), however he was not a liar.
We set off by jeep, just Al and I, Ali the driver and the two girls who had rescued us from the scrum the previous day. The atmosphere was so chilled that they even let us drive the jeep through the desert…
When we finally stopped some way later, we were already in the middle of nowhere. Four camels were waiting for us (we’d been told you had to share.. but not on Ali’s safari!). Having mounted Charlik, Al mounted Celia (one of the camels, not the girls) and we set off into the desert and the desert silence was soon broken with Al cheerfully singing away…. “Oh Celia, you’re breaking my balls….” Turns out, that part is true.
A little while later we emerged out of the scrub land onto some absolutely perfect dunes. There really was no one else there… tourists or otherwise for miles! We dismounted out camels (and believe me, they’re really bloody high) and while the camel drivers set about making a fire we set off over the dunes to watch the sunset. It was pretty flippin’ good.
The only thing that could really have made it better might have been a cold beer. We’d intended to stop at a shop, but as it was republic day, no beer was being sold in India. When we got back to the camp a couple of hours later we noticed my camel, Charlik, wasn’t there. Turns out Ali had sent him on a beer run and it wasn’t too long before he arrived with a sack of cold ones.. this was turning out to be perfect!
We gathered around the camp fire with our beers and watched the camel drivers bash out chapatti’s against some rocks. The food was brilliant and we ate Indian style… turns out it’s easier than you think to eat curry with your fingers. After dinner Al got the ukulele out and we had a little sing song around the fire, rounding up a perfect day with a particularly romantic quartet version of Dire Straits’ Romeo & Juliet.
We ended the evening by climbing into our lovely warm down sleeping bags and gazing up at the night sky, watching shooting stars cross the sky and listening to our camels fart gently to each other…