With a varying topography like no other nation, India has not one, but 3 deserts; the arid high altitude trans-Himalayan cold desert, the glimmering white Rann of Kutch, and the Thar Desert. However, it is the Thar that stands out in its splendor and vitality. The colors of the desert nomads, the thrill of adventure activities and the cultural activities here more than make up for the stark brown sands of the Thar, the world’s 7th largest desert,
Here are some of the exciting adventure activities of Thar, the desert that spans India’s princely state of Rajasthan.
A desert jeep safari begins right after breakfast, and zips through surrounding villages before heading into the sands. The route will show you the simple lives of local villagers. It is not rare for a desert jeep safari to be the introduction to a camel safari after a stopover at a dune retreat for lunch. 45 km outside Jaisalmer, you will be assisted onto camels, in a small cavalcade of people and camels accompanying your group. For those used to city life, the desert landscape, with its new smells, sights and sounds is a once in a lifetime experiences. Camel safaris are also available in Jaipur, and towns that offer it (including Bikaner and Mandawa) have great road connectivity to Jaipur.
Your camel safari might end at a nearby village, which can serve as a rest site and a place to experience the local cuisine, and sleep under the stars! After a night of experiencing rural culture, you’ll be picked up by your jeep the next morning soon after breakfast.
As mentioned above, camping is often integrated into desert safaris. Of note is the Dera Dune Retreat at Jamba, the world’s first sand dune retreat (i.e. it is literally on top of one!). It’s a great location to enjoy traditional Rajasthani music and dance as talent flocks here from nearby villages. Another popular location near Jodhpur is Sar (near Luni), where the backdrop is a scenic mountain range. Food cooked in the desert on a fire, even its wholesome Indian cuisine has a distinct flavour that can’t be replicated anywhere. Dinner, a roaring bonfire, and great conversation are what brings desert camping alive.
Upcoming desert attractions in Rajasthan
The Indian government investment into the Sambhar Lake town will soon translate into a caravan Park, cycle track, dining, and night safari. This is part of the 50 crore mega-desert circuit that spans Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Bikaner-Sambhar-Pali-Mount Abu.
As the name suggests, dune bashing involves tearing through sand dunes, usually on an off-road vehicle for stability. Popular 4X4 choices include the Mahindra Thar, the Scorpio or the more luxurious Toyota Fortuners, which will drive you through small hamlets, dry rivers beds and then onto smaller dunes as the terrain gets more adventurous. It is a more adventurous take on the slightly slower desert safari. Sam Sand Dunes (42 km from Jaisalmer) are one of the most popular dune bashing locations. Driven by an expert driver, your SUV is guided into the Thar’s sand dune ridged land.
These dunes are usually half a kilometre high, and a km wide and tearing through them in a roaring SUV is an experience you might never forget.