The bus journey from Jodphur to Jaisalmer (the ‘golden city’) was our first really long distance bus journey and it was actually pretty good! The journey was supposed to last 6.5 hours but the driver got there in 5! It’s pretty lucky we couldn’t see out the front of the bus because the driver must have been picking up some crazy speed to be so early! Because we were early the pick up from the hotel that we’d arranged wasn’t there, but some other bloke convinced us he was from our guest house and drove us there, the whole time telling us how bad our guest house was and that (surprise, surprise) he had a place that was much cheaper and better. Thankfully he did actually take us there, but waited outside to make sure we were happy with the room before he left.
After a quick lunch of pancakes we headed for the fort. The Jaisalmer Fort was built in 1156 and the area surrounding it is still very much lived in by a large number of people. It’s easy to get lost wandering through the tiny meandering lanes surrounding the Maharaja’s Palace within the fort walls. Unfortunately as the city has modernised and running water has come to the old city the foundations are faltering and the fort is slowly sinking into the hillside. Because of this it’s recommended that you stay outside the fort walls and don’t use any restaurants within it. We didn’t find the fort as impressive as Jodphur, but it was spectacular nonetheless, we just wished we’d gone there first! After exploring the old city and the Maharaja’s Palace we headed back into town via a couple of handcraft shops (nope, we didn’t end up buying anything).
We spent the next few hours getting lost in the equally maze-like streets of the new town, exploring some havelis, the most amazing of which was Patwa-ki-Haveli – a towering Jain residence built between 1800-1860. We stopped to swap some books and then headed to a beautiful rooftop restaurant called Saffron for dinner. One of the best meals yet!
The next morning we were up at 6am for pancakes before heading out in the jeep to the start of our camel safari. On the way to the start point we stopped off at some memorials built for the Jaisalmer rulers over the years – it was pretty beautiful early in the morning. We finally got on the camels around 9.30am. We had a very entertaining group of people, 4 young French guys travelling together, one French guy our age and two Japanese girls, also the same age as us. After about 30 mins on the camel I was starting to feel pain, not pleasant when you know you have a day and a half to go! Fortunately we had an early lunch (simple, yet great food… and we made use of the sporks for the first time!) and spent a couple of hours resting under the trees. A few more hours on the camels in the afternoon saw us reach the sand dunes where we jumped around (well, watched the French guys jump around!) and set up camp.
In the evenings it’s traditional for the camel drivers to sing songs and talk a little about their lives. Much to our amusement and I think also to the drivers, our young French companions decided that they would like to sing too, and entertained us with almost the entire Lion King soundtrack in French, but even better were their versions of ‘I Will Survive’ and ‘We Will Rock You’. Anthony and I were in tears rolling around on the ground laughing at the lyrics they managed to come up with. Special thanks must go to Morgan for ‘I Will Survive’.
Sleeping under the stars was spectacular, if a little cold. I’ve never seen a sky so filled with stars – and lucky Anthony managed to spot a shooting star (or as the French guys called it a ‘moving star’). We were up early for sunrise the next morning and a painful, yet uneventful couple of hours ride to the point where we met the jeep to take us back.
We had a fantastic Thali at our guest house for lunch before jumping on the 2pm bus back to Jodphur. We decided to break the journey from Jaisalmer to Udaipur with a night in Jodphur which was a good decision. We had a relaxing evening and were up again at 6 for an early bus ride to Udaipur. Unfortunately our bus had two front tyre punctures along the way so we were slightly delayed. On the positive side, they had enough spare tyres and managed to fix the problem pretty quickly!
Here are a few photos from Jaisalmer and our camel safari.