(This is a sponsored post, but everything we’ve written is from our own opinions and experiences. The Kafila Desert Camp did not participate in the writing of this post, and we will not earn any affiliate revenue if you decide to stay with them)
While planning our big trip to India, we had heard that desert camping outside of Jaisalmer was a can’t-miss kind of experience. When we decided to book our tickets to Rajasthan’s golden city, there was only one problem: we could not find a single trustworthy review online about a Jaisalmer desert camp. Scrolling through the reviews on tripadvisor.com, bookings.com, and hotels.com, we quickly noticed that nearly every 5-star review was written by an Indian person and that they were almost all identical.
Basically, many of these reviews seemed to be fake. “Very nice place. I recommend,” showed up time and time again with users who self-identified as Indian. As we were planning a trip an hour drive into the desert outside of a very remote city with a toddler, you can imagine we were a bit apprehensive of these reviews, and subsequently of the camps.
Why We Chose to Stay at The Kafila Desert Camp
If you know me, you know that I am careful.
Especially after becoming a father, traveling to destinations like Jaisalmer takes a lot of planning and coordination. I was not about to stay in a questionable resort in the middle of the desert, and I assure you I did my homework before picking a camp.
When I make hotel bookings, I tend to go through Hotels.com. I like their rewards program and have had nothing but positive experiences with them since I started using them over five years ago. When looking for a quality desert camp outside of Jaisalmer, however, the reviews were sketchy to say the least.
The Reviews Were Suspicious
Almost every camp we found had a similar mix of reviews: a large handful of nearly identical 5-star reviews written by Indian users, followed by one or two 1-star reviews from foreigners. While I try not to dwell on 1-star reviews, they certainly caught my attention in this case, as I was being extra cautious. After all, when the only foreigners to stay at the camp and leave a review say that it is a scam, I have a hard time doubting them.
This is all to provide context. I thoroughly vetted these camps before narrowing down my list, and I ultimately selected a handful of camps that I would consider staying at. I reached out to each of them, as well as several previous guests who had tagged them on Instagram, to see what they had to say.
The Kafila Desert Camp Responded to My Messages
While I didn’t hear back from the other camps I contacted on Instagram, I heard back very quickly from The Kafila Desert Camp. They were excited to answer my questions and tell me about the experiences they offer their guests. Several previous guests also responded to my messages and assured me that The Kafila Desert Camp is a great place to stay, and I trusted them. At this point, we decided to just wait and see what was in store when we arrived a month later.
Our First Impression of The Kafila Desert Camp
We had a rough trip to Jaisalmer because of a flight delay of over 36 hours, and we were very weary by the time we got in our taxi from Jaisalmer Airport into the desert. While I normally would have been skeptical of driving through the desert with a random taxi driver at night, I had strong cell phone signal most of the way and was able to confirm that we were headed in the right direction the entire time.
When we pulled up to the front gate of the camp around 8pm, we figured most of the evening’s festivities would have already ended. Boy, were we wrong! As we got out of our taxi, a team of the camp’s staff dashed over to help us with our luggage, and they safely took all of our things to our tents while we sat down to enjoy the evening’s entertainment.
One of the camp’s hosts brought over traditional flower necklaces and welcome drinks and led us to a comfortable couch to watch the evening’s live entertainment. Between the traditional folk dance, the full bar, and the delicious Rajasthani food, we knew instantly that we were in for a great stay.
Amenities at The Kafila Desert Camp
When looking at accommodation options when traveling, it is pretty common for pictures to over-exaggerate reality. In the case of The Kafila Desert Camp, we found the pictures on popular booking sites to be spot on. Their accommodations are much more than just basic tents, from hot showers to great climate control!
Amenities Within the Tents
The Swiss tents were exactly what we expected them to be, and the modern amenities inside of them actually exceeded our expectations.
The bathrooms were especially nice, with instant hot water, large showers, and perfectly-functioning toilets. Our bed was very comfortable, and while the desert definitely was freezing at night (we visited in January, after all), the space heater in the tent was more than enough to keep us warm. The tents are equipped with heaters, air conditioning, a desk, a dresser, nightstands, a porch, plenty of outlets, and toiletries. For our stay, we had everything we needed, and more.
Other Amenities at the Resort
The tents themselves have just about all you need during your stay, with the exception of food. There is a restaurant area near the entrance of the resort that provides complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner during your stay. The restaurant is especially good at whipping up authentic cuisine of the surrounding area, which includes chicken and mutton as popular meats along with countless vegetarian food offerings.
While all of the food served at the resort was delicious, the broad breakfast offerings were especially impressive. Instead of a buffet, you can order individual breakfast items and have them brought to your table. The resort offers a nice blend of Indian and Western breakfast foods, as well as bottled mineral water, juices, coffee, and tea.
During our stay, we always trusted that we would be taken care of. Our host, Param, was incredibly gracious, and he made sure that if we ever needed anything, it was taken care of immediately.
Experiences and Cultural Programs at The Kafila Desert Camp
While the campground itself was great, the desert experiences and cultural activities are what really made the biggest lasting impression. The camp really didn’t hold back when it came to offering us one unforgettable experience after another, and they assured us that they truly do roll out the red carpet for all of their guests.
Private Dinner in the Bush
By far one of the most magical experiences during our stay was the private candlelit dinner that we ate the night that we arrived. The camp has a special secluded area that they use for private dinners, and a team of butlers catered to our every wish throughout the evening. They served course after course of delicious local food along with our choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
The camp sent over its team of private musicians to play traditional music for us while we ate under the stars, and our host stood by to explain each dish to us as it was brought out. While most experiences on this list are included in the price of your stay, the private dinner does come at an additional cost and should be arranged ahead of time. Personally, I highly recommend it.
Once we were done with our delicious private dinner, our host offered to take us into the sand dunes to go stargazing. We happily agreed and met him at the front gate a few minutes later after freshening up.
To our surprise, he pulled up in a luxurious buggy that was spacious enough to fit at least twelve people. It turns out this is the main way that the camp shuttles its guests around to the different desert experiences, and we were happy to go for a ride in it!
When we arrived at the dunes about 10 minutes later, a team from the camp pulled up next to us to set up a blanket, pillows, and a campfire. The desert definitely gets cold at night in January, and the fire was a nice touch. The sky was very clear, especially compared to everywhere else we visited within India, and we had a great time reminiscing under the stars before requesting to be driven back around midnight.
Sunrise Tea and Coffee in the Sand Dunes
The next morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn for a really memorable experience. If you’re willing to get up early, the camp offers a wonderful tea and coffee service in the desert. Our host told us that this is usually done in the afternoon or late evening, but they were able to do it in the early morning for us.
We had a private setup in the dunes with a musician, a breakfast table, and a butler. They served us fresh coffee, biscuits, and tea, and we got to watch the sunrise over the rolling desert horizon of the Sam Dunes.
Where we come from, there definitely aren’t many camels. That makes camel riding a very unique experience that we just had to have while visiting a luxury desert camp! Our host took us into the desert where there were gentlemen with camels waiting to get us set up with a ride.
When doing experiences with animals, it is important to us that the animals are treated properly and respectfully. From what we could see, the tour operators of this camel safari experience truly respected the camels, and they seemed very healthy and well-mannered!
While the camel riding took place in the sand dunes, The Kafila Desert Camp offers horseback riding right on the luxury camp’s own facilities. In the middle of all of the luxury tents, there was a pagoda where Angel was able to meet up with a guide and a horse, and she had a wonderful time riding all around the camp’s facilities. Again, the horses seemed very well taken care of, and we think this is a proper and ethical excursion.
Proof of the horses being well cared for is the fact that the camp recommended we skip this experience because the horses were feeling “off” during our stay. We really appreciated that they listened to the horses rather than forcing them through a ride for the sake of the guests.
Local Village Tour and House Visit
It isn’t every day that you find yourself in the heart of the Thar Desert, and it would be a disservice to not truly learn about the culture of the desert. A great way that the camp helps you to learn about the local culture is by a visit to one of the local villages! Sam Village is not very far away, and we visited a real house and family in Kanoi village. The home was certainly humbling, but it was great to learn about the way of life of the local tribes.
Daily Live Folk Music and Dancing
One of the most important elements of Rajasthani culture, especially in the area around Desert National Park, is music. The best time to see this in action is during the evening entertainment when there are live dancers and musicians right in the center of the camp. This is the experience we had right upon our arrival.
The music consists of a lot of drums, and the dancing is very active. Angel and Nicola even got to dance on stage with the performers, and this was one of their favorite parts of our entire trip to Jaisalmer.
Desert Safari Through Private Dunes
The sand dunes sprawl for miles in every direction, and going on a Jeep safari tour through some of the nearby areas is easily one of the best experiences offered by The Kafila Desert Camp. Seeing the dramatic landscapes, local villages, and rolling sand dunes is a really special experience, and the camp is happy to load its guests up onto its large buggy to tour the surrounding area.
Our Final Thoughts on The Kafila Desert Camp
All in all, we had a fantastic stay, and we wouldn’t think twice about where to stay on our next trip to the desert outside of Jaisalmer. Honestly, we enjoyed our time in the desert much more than our time in Jaisalmer City, too.While the Jaisalmer Fort is cool and unique, the experiences offered in the desert by The Kafila Desert Camp far supersede the experiences available in the city.
We weren’t sure what to expect on our way to the camp, as you never know how accurate pictures online will be. However, we knew we were in good hands the second we arrived, and we felt the same the next day once we got all settled in, too.
The Golden City of Rajasthan gets its name from the color of the Jaisalmer Fort, but I’d argue that the rolling sands of the Great Thar Desert are the real gold that should be explored. If you decide to make the trip, I honestly say look no further than The Kafila Desert Camp. They say their mission is to create a tranquil environment that is safe and enjoyable for all travelers – families, couples, solo travelers, and beyond – and I think they do a great job.
That’s all we have for you about our stay at The Kafila Desert Camp in the desert near Jaisalmer! Hopefully, this post is helpful as you search for a trustworthy desert camp near Jaisalmer to stay at. Again, we received compensation for our photography and promotion services while staying at The Kafila Desert Camp, but this post only contains my honest thoughts about the camp. I will not earn any form of compensation if you decide to stay at the camp – but I still highly encourage you to do so!
What do you think?? Would you want to stay here? All of our adventure addicts comment below!