Luxury Desert Camping in Jaisalmer: Everything to Know [2023]

· Our family's experience with one of the most highly rated desert camps in Jaislamer ·

Date
Feb, 27, 2023

When we planned our two-week trip to India, there was one experience we knew we needed to have: camping in the Thar Desert outside of Jaisalmer. The Thar Desert is located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, and it absolutely sprawls. Jaisalmer is commonly referred to as the gateway to the Great Indian Desert, and we decided to devote a few days of our trip to this small northwestern city.

While we are not big traditional campers, the opportunity to camp out in a luxury tent with modern amenities in the middle of the Thar Desert was just too good to pass up.

After doing a heavy load of research, we decided to reach out to The Kafila Desert Camp, which agreed to host us and give us an inside look at their camp and its cultural programs.

This post will provide a clear view of what it’s like staying at a luxury camp in the Thar Desert.

Full disclosure, we were compensated for our work with The Kafila Desert Camp, but this post is in no way sponsored by them and contains nothing but unbiased factual information.

This post contains affiliate links through which we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own.

Is it Worth Visiting a Luxury Desert Camp in Jaisalmer?

During our time in India, there were many places we hoped to visit. However, after all of our research, we decided to devote some of our precious time to a two-night stay in the heart of the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. Would we recommend that you do the same?

Yes, depending.

The experience itself was magnificent. If it weren’t for the over-the-top Indian wedding we had just attended in New Delhi, I would probably say that staying in a Jaisalmer Desert Camp was the best experience of our trip. With the slew of activities that many of them offer, staying in a luxury desert camp can truly be an unforgettable experience.

From going on a camel safari or a jeep safari in the Sam dunes to stargazing under the desert sky, a visit to the desert outside of Jaisalmer can be a huge breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of major Indian cities. The rich culture of Rajasthan is also on full display, from folk music to the traditional welcome that many camps offer.

One Main Drawback to Visiting a Jaisalmer Desert Camp

The only problem with visiting the desert outside Jaisalmer is that you must pass through Jaisalmer City to get there. Jaisalmer is a pretty small city, and we found it to be very underwhelming, other than the Jaisalmer Fort. To make things worse, we had both our outbound and inbound flights postponed or delayed by 6 and 36 hours.

While this will not always be the case, it did point to one major concern: there aren’t that many flights to and from Jaisalmer. For this reason, we actually lost a day of our trip as we were stranded in New Delhi. While staying at the luxurious camps is truly an amazing experience, getting to them can be a real hassle.


How to Get to Jaisalmer Desert Camps

Fly to Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer is pretty remote, located in the northwestern corner of India near the border with Pakistan. The best way to get there is to fly directly to Jaisalmer Airport (JSA), which is located about 40-60 minutes from most of the best desert camp sites. This airport is tiny, but the next-nearest major airport is all the way in Jodhpur, about 5 hours away.

From the airport, I recommend pre-arranging transportation to take you to your camp. Jaisalmer is a bit dodgy, and we were happy not to have to worry about hailing a random cab to drive us an hour into the desert. The airport is tiny (like, only one gate and baggage claim tiny) and you can expect to have your bags and be on the road within 20 minutes of landing.

Take a Train to Jaisalmer

While you could take a train, Jaisalmer railway station isn’t very well-connected at all. Your train route would likely take as long as the drive would, and you’d then have to worry about arranging transportation from the city into the desert. The train station is not located in a great area, either.

Drive to Jaisalmer

If you don’t mind long car rides, this may actually be the best option. Jaisalmer is a long drive away from both Jaipur and Delhi, but hiring a driver guarantees that you will arrive at your desert camp on time.

Jaisalmer airport is notorious for flight delays and cancellations due to its other role as a military airport. Our flight to Jaisalmer was delayed 36 hours, and our flight back to Delhi was delayed 6 hours, for example.

While the 10+ hour drives to Delhi and Jaipur are daunting, the roads are generally decent and safe. Drivers are also very affordable in India, as we hired a van to take us 10 hours from Jaisalmer to Udaipur for just $200.


Best Activities to Do at a Jaisalmer Desert Camp

1. Camel Safari

I don’t know about you, but where I come from, there aren’t many camels! While I had ridden camels before in Marrakech, the experience of riding a camel through the Sam Dunes was still very enjoyable. From what we could tell, the animals were treated respectfully, which is not always the case in commercialized tourist areas.

Camel rides are certainly novel, but they’re an experience that not many people get to have. Riding a camel is very different from riding a horse, and you really appreciate these massive creatures a lot more from on top of the hump!

three camels with riders in the desert

2. Jeep Safari (Dune Bashing)

I had never been dune-bashing before this trip. After just a couple of minutes in the jeep, I instantly loved it! The resort where we stayed had a large jeep that they used to transport guests around the area, and they also used it for dune bashing in their private dunes.

Dune-bashing involves quickly whipping a jeep around the sand dunes, causing the vehicle to drift and slide all over the sand. The sand in Jaisalmer is very dense, too, which makes for a great drifting environment!

Jeep Safari in Desert at Sunrise
mother cradling her baby on a Jeep Safari in Desert at Sunrise

3. Live Folk Music

One of the most beautiful aspects of Rajasthani heritage is its rich traditional dance and music customs. Rajasthani folk dance is easy to join in on, and the locals are very eager to teach you the key moves. There are many unique instruments that are used to play Rajasthani classical music, and we really enjoyed learning about many of them.

While there are countless cultural activities offered by the luxury desert camps, the most beautiful part of Rajasthan is its people, and music is at the heart of their culture.


4. Stargazing

Generally speaking, Indian skies are not great for stargazing. India is one of the most heavily polluted countries in the world, and this pollution often obscures the otherwise starry sky. However, when you get far enough out into the desert, a lot of this pollution dissipates.

Our camp set up a camp fire in their private dunes for us and let us lay back and admire the clear night sky as long as we wanted. This setup really helped us to appreciate the fairly peaceful life of the desert.


5. Private Dinner

While dining in a group setting in the camps is a fun experience, nothing beats an intimate private dinner under the stars. Our camp had a private dining area set up for us and our friends with a private butler, a full spread of foods, private live music, and delicious drinks. While every camp’s amenities are different, I highly recommend trying to book a private candlelit dinner at some point during your stay.


6. Sunrise in the Sand Dunes

The Thar Desert is pretty flat other than the rolling dunes, and its horizon was the furthest we saw anywhere in India. While the dunes are very fun to explore during the day, nothing beats catching the sunrise over the desert horizon while sipping on a cup of coffee or tea in the early morning! Our camp escorted us to a private area in the dunes where we were able to relax as the sun made its way up over the Rajasthani horizon.

If you plan to catch a sunrise or a sunset, be sure to bring a jacket. The desert gets very cold when the sun isn’t out, and we were much colder than we expected until the sun peaked in the sky!


7. Visit a Local Village

Again, the most beautiful part of Rajasthan is its people. The people of this area live a very modest and traditional lifestyle, and we had the opportunity to visit one of their villages and even enter a home. This was not a fake, staged experience. We were welcomed into a real family’s real home, and while it was certainly a humble place, visiting it was a very enlightening experience. If you have the chance, absolutely head out into one of the nearby villages.

woman in white robe sitting on brown rock near black cooking pot during daytime

Do Jaisalmer Desert Camps Have Modern Amenities?

Jaisalmer is pretty remote, and the desert camps are another hour further out from civilization. Setting your expectations properly before visiting one of the luxury camps is definitely a good idea! Nobody can blame you for wondering what the toilet facilities would be like out in the desert! With that being said, many of the camps truly do have very modern facilities.

I will speak on my personal experience. We stayed at The Kafila Desert Camp, which is located in the village of Kanoi. This is about one hour from downtown Jaisalmer.

Without going into too much detail, The Kafila Desert Camp blew us away with its tents and amenities, and we thing it is one of the best places to stay in the area. Each tent had its own bathroom with a walk-in shower with hot water. The beds were comfortable. The tents had both heaters and air conditioning. While there was no paid or free wifi, we were able to access cell phone signal the whole time.

The food was fresh and very well-prepared, and the desert safari activities were all very nicely organized. Our camp even had its own luxury jeep that it used for dune bashing as well as transiting private groups of campers around the nearby area to do other excursions, like stargazing and visiting villages. We were completely unsure of what to expect, and our expectations were very far exceeded.


Is Desert Camping in Jaisalmer Safe?

Generally speaking, Jaisalmer is not the safest city in India. While Rajasthan has a pretty good reputation for safety, Jaisalmer tends to be a bit of an outlier due to its close proximity to the border with Pakistan. Military tensions in the area occasionally flare up from what I have heard, and this can lead to some heightened security protocols and military presence.

With that being said, we didn’t feel any security issues at all in the desert. The desert camps are 40-60 minutes outside of the city, and they are remote enough to mitigate most of the risk. The city of Jaisalmer is pretty seedy, but the desert camps outside of the city are much safer, cleaner, and more pleasant.

We visited with our toddler and didn’t once feel at risk.

Our host at the camp was extremely hospitable, and we felt perfectly safe the entire time. As long as you avoid any wildlife that may wander around the desert and book reliable transportation methods, you’re likely going to be just fine.

father holding son who is bundled in winter clothing in the great indian desert
Did you even go on a family trip if there aren’t any crocodile tears?

What Is the Best Time to Go Desert Camping in Jaisalmer?

Jaisalmer absolutely has a defined tourist season. Our host told us that 6 months of the year are extremely popular with tourists, and the other six months are practically silent. The summer months are the worst time to go desert camping in Jaisalmer, as the weather is way too hot to really enjoy the activities during the daytime.

We visited in late January and the weather was great. It was comfortably warm during the day, but got quite cold at night and in the early mornings.

The optimal time to visit would probably be in mid-February, when the weather is ever-so-slightly warmer and the camps are still in full operation.

man serving tea in the great thar desert during sunrise

That’s all we have for you about Luxury Desert Camping outside of Jaisalmer, India!

What do you think?? Would you glam in The Great Indian Desert? All of our adventure addicts comment below!

Greg

Greg is a seasoned traveler who has lived in Mexico, Italy, China, and the United States. From New Year’s in Dubai to epic sunset hikes in Panama, his journeys have taken him to almost 50 countries all around the world.

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    graliontorile

    March 19, 2023

    It is actually a great and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

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Greg | The Author

Greg is a seasoned traveler who has lived in Mexico, Italy, China and the U.S. From New Year’s in Dubai to epic sunset hikes in Panama, his journeys have taken him to almost 50 countries.

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