Our India Adventure travel blog

Breakfast

Getting ready to go

All kitted out!

Resting behind our windbreak

The four of us with a new friend

Awaiting the sunset

Keeping the sand off our faces


We were up early and walked down to Trotter's for our 6:30 a.m. departure. A Jeep was to take us to the camels. Along with our driver we ended up with me in the front seat of an open (i.e. no doors) Jeep and Marlys, Eleri and Theo piled in the back. No one else is apparently stupid enough to book a camel safari for a trek in the desert of death in 45 degree heat! (small disclaimer here: when we booked the trip back in Toronto we had NO idea that the monsoon was going to be a month late and that the heat in the Thar Desert would be in the mid 40's!).

As we were on our way to meet our camels and guides I get a tap on my shoulder. Marlys is trying to get my attention. With the wind whipping past I have trouble hearing but it seems to be something about Eleri throwing up. Oh oh!!! That doesn't sound good. As Eleri was in the back of the Jeep she just leaned out and let the laws of physics take care of the contents of her stomach from the previous nights dinner. Very tidy! Once we had arrived at our destination Eleri advised that she thought that it was just the motion of the Jeep and the fumes from the exhaust that had made her a little car sick, and besides she now felt fine. Receiving reassurances from our guides that if something happened we could get assistance quickly we decided to carry on. (You would not believe how good the cell reception is in the Thar Desert...I am NOT kidding you).

Breakfast of bananas and cookies was offered, along with a cup of chai which was made over a small fire. We were introduced to our first dung beetle as it scuttled towards us. Scary to look at if you don't know what it is! We then had our guides tie up our scarves to protect our necks and head from the sun. Marlys advised me that I was completely rocking the Yassar Arafat look! While we had planned to wear hats I now understand why they wear headscarves for travel in the desert.

Our safari caravan consisted of five camels and two guides, along with the four of us. The first part was flat, rocky with scrubby brush (not what you typically think of as desert). We could see wind turbines in the distance. After an hour's ride we stopped at an oasis (no greenery, just water) to water our camels. We then rode another hour and a half and stopped for lunch. During the trek the guides were constantly stopping to make sure that we had plenty of water to drink. When we stopped for lunch the guides removed our camel's saddles and gear to build a windbreak for us to rest behind (under the shade of a large tree). The wind had picked up and I was reminded of the word "sirocco" as the hot wind blasted fine particles of sand into our faces if we stood up. Laying on thick blankets behind our windbreak it was relatively cool and wind free. While we lay in the shade our guides, along with some other help made our lunch for us. It was a delicious lunch of fresh chapatis, vegetable curry and yellow rice. As an appetiser we also was provided with freshly fried Indian crisps (not sure exactly what they are but they are tasty). After lunch we dozed and relaxed until 4:00 p.m., hoping that the temperature and wind would reduce. No such luck. In addition, Marlys and Eleri were both feeling the effects of the heat and were getting cold water poured on their heads by the guides. In addition, my legs were really sore, so that when they offered a Jeep ride to our camp we took them up on it.

Our camp was right beside a typical sand dune part of the desert. At camp we watched the sunset while we waited for our dinner to be made. Pracash, our cook and one of the guides, made us a marvelous pot of chai while we waited. We also had three wild dogs waiting for dinner with us, as they had followed us across the desert in anticipation of eating leftovers. Apparently this was a pretty regular gig for these dogs.

Once the sun had set we packed it in and slept under the stars on camp cots with only a sheet to cover us (which was one sheet more than I needed on top of me!). It will go down in the annuls of Ted Schieck history as one of the more miserable nights ever. Marlys, of course, ever contrary, had a great nights sleep...telling me that as I had no control over the room temperature she was finally warm! In my view it was simply too hot to sleep and it took me until about about 3:00 a.m. before I finally dozed off and slept through to about 6:30 a.m.



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