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Our Night with Bob Marley

A Search for Sand-Dunes on Camels

sunny 25 °C

To escape the hustle and bustle of Jaisalmer life, we hired a jeep and driver to take us almost 50 kilometres southwest of the town into Desert National Park. Covering an area of more than 3000 square kilometres (more than 1200 square miles), this desert wasn't the endless sand-dunes of my imagination. Rather, the scene can be more green than sand-coloured, with plenty of bushes and scrub punctuating the landscape.

As always, the drive to our desination was as much an adventure as arriving, and we witnessed young ladies walking miles with water canisters precariously balancing on their heads. Of course, it's a normal part of life here, but it's always good to be reminded how precious water is, and how fortunate we are to have to do little more than turn on a tap or open a bottle...

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It was soon time to meet our onward transportation: two camels named Disco and Bob Marley. With dusk fast approaching, we alternate walking and trotting out to our sand-dune camp for the night. It's wonderfully quiet, with the silence broken only by passing herders and farmers heading home for the night, or by our teenage camel drivers chatting in Hindu, or making clicking sounds to encourage the camels to keep moving. Both camels seem quite happy with the situation, despite their heavy loads or the dozens of bugs buzzing incessantly around twitching ears and noses. A few, tiny chinkara antelope and a desert fox carefully survey our position before disappearing over the nearest horizon.

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Bob Marley and Disco.
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The magic truly begins when the sun goes down, and the night sky begins to reveal itself to us. We've been promised a camp fire, but our young guides are woefully ill-prepared for our request. They respond enthusiastically, however, and set about collecting sticks and then building the most pathetic attempt at a camp-fire you can imagine. Despite his protests and offers of assistance, Lloyd is required to sit on a blanket with me, and we almost dread the embarassing revelation that lies ahead for the boys when the fire is lit. As we expect, the fire lasts a staggering three minutes. It's a good thing we don't need it for heat tonight!

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I guess we should be thankful the fire lasted long enough for the photograph...

When the embers are burned out, we are left in near-blackness. To our right, we can see a halo of light on the horizon that marks Jaisalmer, almost thirty miles away. Closer, there are a few, dim lights from a nearby village. Even the moon is absent, and in fact it won't rise for several more hours. With so little light pollution, I can see more stars than I've ever been able to see before, and the experience is magical, humbling, and beautiful. We lie on a blanket, flat on our backs, and watch satellites and shooting stars fly by.

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No piccies after dark, I'm afraid, although we have loved to have shared the star-filled night sky! Here's a picture of Lloyd and I at dusk instead, in our charming matching his-n-hers safari shirts....

We expected to spend the night on the blanket on the sand - which was, in fact, almost as hard as Chinese beds! But, although we could only hear his neck bell approaching, Bob Marley later materialized with two 'beds' which were quickly made up for us. We were to be comfortable on this camel safari!

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A surprisingly comfortable night in the desert!

In the morning, we trek back on the camels. While trotting is actually more comfortable in the moment, it proved painful the morning after. Lloyd's back and my chest were therefore relieved that it's a nice gentle sail back to the village (note for the ladies: wear a sports bra for camel treks!).

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Finally, we're back in our jeep for the two hour drive to Jaisalmer, via the Royal Cenotaphs.

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The Royal Cenotaphs commemorate the spots where Jaisalmer's former rulers were cremated. We liked the contrast between the old cenotaphs and the new windmills.

Posted by jacquiedro 17:45 Archived in India Tagged round_the_world

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