My son and I arrived at the Roop Mahal Hotel in mid-December. We had come to Jaisalmer to take a camel safari into the Thar Desert. We didn't want to go to the Sam sand dunes or areas that had already been despoiled by tourists. Rather, we wanted to go off the beaten track, to a place where we would see no signs of civilization. We were not sanguine about the possibilities until we met Chandra, the owner of Roop Mahal. He told us that his safaris did exactly that: avoided the over-touristed areas in favor of a pristine stretch of sand dunes that would require us to take at least a three-day, two night safari. He said his camp there had cots to enable us to sleep more comfortably than on the ground, and assured us that three days would not be too long for camel newbies such as ourselves.
The safari was absolutely wonderful! It took us the whole of the first day to get used to riding the camels, and we didn't get as far out into the desert as we would have liked, since we had opted to use the cots that night. So the next day, Sonny, our camel-man, took us a lot farther into the dunes, far enough to have a complete 360 degree view of the desert without any signs of human habitation. Chandra had warned us not to expect sand dunes like those in "Lawrence of Arabia", but they were big enough for us. We saw a number of deer and even several foxes. But mostly we just enjoyed the solitude of those quiet, wide-open spaces and the slow, rolling gait of the camels.
That second night the wind started to blow fairly hard, and Sonny dug a large hole in the sand about 15 inches deep and wide enough for two sleeping bags. He lined these with camel blankets so the wind wouldn't blow sand on us, and that's where my son and I slept that night. We were much warmer that night, either because the wind was bringing in warmer air from the south, or because we didn't have cold air blowing under us as we had when we slept on the cots.
I highly recommend the Roop Mahal camel safaris. Our safari was something that neither my son nor I will ever forget. Sonny, the camel-man, spoke perfect English, knew the desert like the back of his hand, and came up with delicious (vegetarian) meals three times every day. We packed in everything that we needed in the way of food, water, cooking utensils, sleeping bags, etc., and took every single thing out again, leaving no trace in the desert. If that is the type of experience you are after, you absolutely can do no better than arranging a safari with Chandra. I've read on this site that his safaris may be a bit more expensive than others. All I can say is, you get what you pay for. To go into the desert and not see another tourist for three days is priceless, in my book.
A word about Roop Mahal: I can also unequivocably endorse the hotel. The rooms are large and there is 24 hour hot water. I found the staff to be courteous, helpful and professional. I especially enjoyed the roof-top restaurant. I never got the name of the cook, but he turned out some of the best meals I have ever had in India. Try his Malai Kufta. Out of this world!
A word of advice: in December the Thar Desert is hot in the daytime and cold at night. I had brought only black Levis which were fine at night but far too hot during the day. Bring layers so you can adjust your clothing to the changing temperatures.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Roop Mahal has 11 rooms with attached bathroom, high pressure hot and cold shower, satellite TV in every room & 6 air conditioned rooms have balconies with magnificent fort and sunset views .The hotel has a rooftop restaurant with sweeping views of the fort especially at night with the illuminated bastions bringing to mind the Arabian Nights. the hotel has Internet, Skype free Wi Fi and free pickup and drop of service. ... more less
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