A hotel hunt, farting camels and sleeping in the Thar desert. Read about Tikva’s adventures in India in this new episode for Sleep Less, Dream More. 

This post is part of the series called ‘Sleep less, dream more’ in which we share uncommon sleeping places and circumstances travelers encountered during their trip.

Written by Tikva.

My whole body was hurting and I was really tired but the falling stars kept me awake. The perfect night sky was filled with twinkling lights against a pitch black canvas. Everywhere I looked, there was nothing but sky. A perfect Indian experience was suddenly interrupted by some deep groans followed by a high pitched moan. Tomorrow, I would have to get up on that bloody camel again. For now however I was determined to enjoy the night skies for as long as I could keep my eyes open.

Thar Desert. ©Gezin op reis.
Thar Desert. ©Gezin op reis.

We were in month three of our round the world trip. After a short stint in the Middle East and a couple of weeks trekking in Nepal we had arrived in India. A difficult place to travel: we would declare our love to the country one moment and decide to hate it the next.

“We would declare our love to the country one moment and decide to hate it the next”

Jasailmer is a city in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the Thar Desert. It has a huge fortress to explore. The small winding alleys take you to houses, shops and Jain temples. The clothes of the people in this region are especially colorful, no belly-showing saris but beautiful, gracious dresses in vibrant red, yellow or green covered with tons of golden jewels. However, Jasailmer also turned out to be the city with the dirtiest hotel rooms ever.

We arrived after a long, hot and cramped 8 hour bus ride. After yet again checking a hotel room and discover that the toilets still showed the last visitors content, I really couldn’t stand it anymore. Unlike my husband who was more willing to accept that this was just the way India works. We got in a huge fight and I stormed off, only to come back over an hour later. I had to check 17!! hotels but finally managed to found a acceptable place within our backpacker budget.

Jaisalmer. ©Gezin op Reis.
Jaisalmer. ©Gezin op Reis.

We thought some nature and escaping the crowded cities would be a great idea. After all, one of our best Indian experiences where in small places like Puskhar and Khajuraho where there were fewer people and less hassle and we could escape to nearby nature like Panna National Park.

So, we booked a two day camel trip to the desert. The Thar Desert is not like the Sahara. There are some sand dunes but most of it is lots of rocks and small bushes. There are spots with windmills and even places where people try to grow some vegetables. Still it was an interesting experience; we spotted big vultures eating a dead cow, visited an abandoned village and enjoyed the talks with our Indian guides.

“The Thar Desert is not like the Sahara.”

This all ended when my camel decided to make a run for it. Not caring for the tourist on its back, it decided to take a short cut straight through some prickly bushes. When it finally came to a halt my butt was hurting a lot and I had lots of scratches including one pretty deep, one inch from my eye (I still have the scar). The guides decided to give me the most docile animal and tied all the camels together. My old camel was the last of the group. I soon discovered this is not a good spot to be in. Some very nasty smells started drifting my way. Camels do fart, a lot! And those farts smell bad.

Camel resting in the Thar Desert. ©Gezin op Reis.
Camel resting in the Thar Desert. ©Gezin op Reis.

Finally, we stopped at a quiet spot with some big sand dunes. The guides got all the packs from the camels and used these to make a kind of bed in the sand. The camel was still on the pack and  no… it wasn’t clean camel hair. Our blankets were full of sand and it looked like the blankets never got washed. But I didn’t care I could breath freely and stretch my legs. Looking back, sleeping in the open was the best part of the entire trip. The wind in your hair and the bright sparkling stars: a unique experience. I must have finally drifted away because I was woken by the sunrise next morning.

Sleeping in the Thar desert. ©Gezin op Reis.

The camel and I never became friends, but some of my wishes during the falling stars must have been heard, because for the rest of my travels I never had so much trouble finding a decent sleeping spot again.

About the author

Gezin op ReisTikva is the wife of Gezin op Reis (Dutch for travelling family), a family travel blog. She loves exploring new places (60+ countries), history and diving. Taking her baby daughter on her first overseas holiday to Curacao before she was 3 months and following up with trips to NY, Iceland, Cambodia and Vietnam within a year, she shows that kids and travel can go together. You can follow Gezinopreis on Trover for inspirational travel pictures.

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  1. Oh gosh, I don’t think I’d want to be hanging out anywhere near that camel! Though, sleeping under the Indian night sky does sound near to idyllic…

  2. What a great story! And one I can relate to as well: I rode a camel in Morocco and was constantly afraid he would run off to roam the Sahara till the end of time, with me on his back. My boyfriend was convinced the camels would never make a run for it. But this story shows it could have happened. Never again :)!


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