If you’re going to journey all the way out to the town of Jaisalmer in the far reaches of the Thar Desert in Western India, then you should also make time for a night at a desert camp in the Sam Dunes. A easy 45-minute drive from Jaisalmer, the Prince Desert Camp offers an excellent and complete experience, including a comfortable luxury tents, a sunset camel ride and an evening of local cuisine and entertainment, all of which will leave you dreaming about the desert for nights, if not weeks, afterwards.
A Tranquil Location Away from the Masses
You’ll know when you’re nearing the Sam Dune when you start noticing camels on the horizon. Some tourists come out for day-time camel or jeep safaris, that said, it’s much more magical to stay overnight. The Thar Desert isn’t quite like the Sahara. Much of it is flat and dotted with desert vegetation, save for certain places, like the Sam Dune which is a gently rolling section of fine golden sand. One element that I particularly liked about the Prince Desert Camp is that it is a little removed from the other camps, many of which are located in a cluster closer to the road. From Prince’s you can’t see any others so you feel more like you’re “alone” in the desert.
Luxury Desert Camp Experience
Enclosed by a discreet fence that is bordered by flowering plants, the camp consists of a covered entrance are, where you’ll be served with a welcome drink, a open lounge/dining area and forty “Swiss” tents. These are on the deluxe end of desert tents (much nicer than the basic ones I once stayed in in Morocco!) and include a small sitting area overlooking the camp, a bedroom with a double bed with nice bedding and traditional Rajasthani rugs and chairs. There’s also an air-conditioning unit (wow!) and attached bathroom with 24-hour running water.
A Two-Humped Ride into the Sunset
After we’d settled in, we took our desert experience one step further with a camel ride into the sand dunes. Guests can also choose to take a jeep safari instead of by camel, but the former is much more romantic! The twenty minute-ride took us to a high crest in the dune where we had a sweeping view of the surroundings. This was also the perfect spot to watch the sunset, which shone its golden rays over the undulating dunes, creating a serenely majestic ambiance.
Refreshments were available here at an additional fee, there may also be some children trying to earn a few rupees so you may want to bring some bills in your pocket for either. We could then return by camel or walk back to the camp. Our time wasn’t rushed and it was just long enough to make the most of the special moment – longer camel rides can sometimes leave your body in less than tip-top shape the next day! (and here you’ll need you legs if you want to walk up to see the sunrise in the morning).
Rajasthani Traditions through Food, Music & Dance
We were warmly welcomed back to the camp by a beautiful, traditionally dressed local woman, a musician and a candlelit path, setting the tone for our desert cultural evening under the twinkling night sky. The camp’s common area is smartly designed with curved sitting nooks around a round section with a fire pit. This offered privacy for guests, while maintaining a friendly group spirit. This was enhanced with the start of the traditional entertainment of local Langas musicians and the attractive woman who’d greeted us, who was in fact a very talented Kalbeliyas dancer.
Over the course of the next few hours, they performed a variety of folkloric music, dance and daring acts. This was well-accompanied by a truly delicious multi-course dinner of local specialities like desert beans, dal baati churma and spicy chicken curry. With our minds and bellies well sated, the dancer encouraged female guests to learn a few of her dance moves… I wasn’t nearly as good as the Indian guests who caught on much quickier! Nevertheless, it was a fun and lively close to a great evening.
While most guests turn in by 10 pm, that doesn’t mean you can’t linger with your sweetheart, gazing up at the expansive and extremely clear starry night sky…
Watching the Serene Sunrise
While I’m usually not much of a morning person, I thought it was well-worth prodding myself out of bed to catch the desert sunrise – and I wasn’t disappointed with my decision. The positioning of the camp favors the casting of gorgeous morning light over the camp, however, if you can muster the energy to walk up to the dune (around 15 min), you’ll be treated to the sublime start to the day over the cascading sand. In this peaceful moment you can observe the desert (and maybe some birds or small animals) waking to the new day. Back at the camp, a good breakfast of Indian and Western items awaits.
People generally only do one night at a desert camp. I’d suggest getting there early/mid afternoon on the day you check in the max your time, especially if you would like to do any additional activities on the dunes. This makes for a great experience for both couples and families who will love their comfortable and enriching time at the Prince Desert Camp.
The rate for a double occupancy tent is INR 7200 (including breakfast) and the multi-course dinner is INR 1650 per person (excluding beverages). For further details and booking see their website or call or email (+91 – 9828339177 / +91 – 9571964471 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
Looking for more inspiration on what to include in your India holiday? See my other articles on unique hotels and cool things to do at this link!
I was a guest of the Prince Desert Camp, however all of the opinions expressed above are entirely my own.