Let me start out by saying that the three of us who went on this overnight camel safari have many years of experience camping in the deserts of the American Southwest (on our own), The Sinai in Egypt and many other exotic and interesting places around the world. Having said that this was one of the worst run operations I have ever experienced. It was so bad that the operator refunded our money. If you don't believe me about how bad this was, check out the photos. And if you would like a good laugh, read on.
To be clear, since I have seen a couple of different companies reviewed here, we went with Royal Safari Camp Pushkar on their overnight trip and their website is at http://www.pushkarcamelsafari.com/overnightcamelsafari.htm
We began our little adventure near the Brahma Temple, in Puskar, and spent the first half-hour winding our way through markets and street stalls doing a little window shopping from the upper deck of our trusty camels. After this little excursion we headed out of town...along trash and garbage strewn dirt roads lined with small houses and little plots of cultivated land. It was like riding through a desert of plastic bags and junk lined with overhead power lines as we headed west towards the dunes (or so we thought). Eventually we passed out of the suburbs and into the countryside, still covered in the ever present plastic bags and other throw-aways.
We finally arrived at our camping area, which one person in our party referred to as, "the parking lot for the luxury (in appearance) hotel that was next door". It was conveniently surrounded by a barbed wire fence (presumably to keep out the marauding desert bandits lurking nearby) and perhaps to keep our frisky camels in.
A brisk wind made setting up the tents a bit of a challenge for the staff and they failed to use pegs or rocks to secure them. They soon flew into the barbed wire fence. Oh, well; that's probably what the fence was really for - to keep the tents in. To their credit, the crew did yoman's work in preparing our dinner over the open fire. It was delicious and we enjoyed their company.
In the meantime there was another group camped out a little below us (beyond the barbed wire) and they had a big campfire going and were being entertained by gypsy dancers and musicians. We asked our staff why we didn't have any entertainment as advertised on the website and were told that there had been a problem with the local police. The problem we surmised, was that the other group's tour operator had paid off the police and ours had not.
When we asked about the toilet tent for the ladies (which had also been advertised) we were told that there was no toilet tent and not to worry, that ... "the desert is a big toilet".
Finally we crawled into our lovely and cozy tents. It quickly became apparent though that our tents had seen better days and were in need of a little repair. The zippers were all broken and the flaps were held together with safety pins (which you can see in our attached photos). By this time the wind was picking up speed and the flaps and rain flies were flapping wildly in the breeze. Since we were familiar with these types of tents we went outside in the dark and did the best we could to hook them to the frames, with only limited success. Then within minutes our friend in the other tent began yelling at a dog that had come through the open/broken rain fly and had found a resting place for the night. Eventually the staff came and hauled the dog away to who-knows where.
By morning, we were covered in grit from a nights worth of blowing desert sand. Early on, we were greeted by the company manager (or owner, I'm not sure which he actually was) who had ridden his motorbike out through the litter covered wilderness to greet us. It didn't take him long to get an earful about his operation. He calmly sipped his morning tea as he listened politely, then flipped the paper cup into the air and sheepishly drove off.
If you're looking for a real desert/camel experience, save your money. This one is a (BAD) joke and should be avoided at all costs.
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