Camels, horses and elephants have always been significant in the culture of Rajasthan. The wars and voyages, processions and pilgrimages that make Rajasthan’s history exciting, would not have been possible without these amazing breeds. These days, camel, horse and elephant Safaris are a rage among all sorts of tourists visiting the state.
Camels are the Ships of the Desert, surviving its hardships without food and water for days. Their rolling pace takes some getting used to but camel rides through the vast expanses of sand can be exhilarating. Of course, you can always opt for camel-carts. Camel safaris are usually flexible in terms of route and the number of days. A healthy camel can easily cover 30 to 40 km is covered in one day and the best time to go for the safari is the early morning or evening to avoid the scorching sun. Think about it, travelling on the back of a camel dressed in colourful, traditional costumes through the vast expanse of arid desert where all you can behold are massive stretches of sands for miles. Camel Safaris are most popular in the dunes near Jaisalmer while the Shekhawati belt, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Pushkar and Nagaur are also not far behind.
Elephants have always been the favourite among the imperial rulers and their families who rode the gigantic quadruped with an air of majesty that only comes with the position of power. A nobleman riding on howdah (a large seat on the back of the elephant lined with soft silk cushions for comfort) with a chhatra (the ceremonial umbrella) providing him from shade has grandeur written all over it! Now it’s your turn as an esteemed guest of the land of Rajasthan to feel the same pride and live the same noble life, even if it is for a short time. Ride through the architectural wonders of the beautiful cities or watch the wildlife of Rajasthan while being perched atop the huge but friendly elephants. Attendants are a must when you are going for these lavish elephant safaris along with well-trained mahaouts (elephant trainers).
Drive across the length and breadth of the desert on an open jeep instead of a old boring taxi and your experience will be totally different! Jeep safaris are a hit in the winters when the sun is not as harsh and the winds are cool. Off the sands and sometimes off the roads, it is a captivating experience with a whole new perspective and a surge in adrenaline at the same time. For example, a ride through the romantic city of Udaipur and then exploring the thick forests in the uneven terrain of Mewar where rocks and hills of different types and shapes surprise you in this desert land while the sacred temples, tribal areas, rural life and ruined forts all enchant you with an ethereal beauty of their own. Even the thought of this is super-exciting.
Horses hold a special place in the lives of Rajputs. The Rajput noblemen bred special horses and had the best horsemen to serve their king in the time of need. Native Marwari horses are strong and mighty agile and are considered as one of the best breed of horses in the world even till this day. The other notable breeds of horses that have served here are the Kathiawadi and Sindhi. Horse safaris give you a wonderful insight into the rustic Rajasthan as the routes often pass through villages, ruined historical monuments, forts and temples and heritage hotels where you can camp for relaxation and enjoy some exotic meal and perhaps a snooze for a little while. Itineraries can be customized according to your choice. You may choose to trot or canter through the beautiful trails of the state while you sport the traditional riding gear. Shikarbadi at Udaipur, Anokhi village near Jaipur and Aodhi near Kumbhalgarh and Ghanerao are the best horse safari destinations.