Key Considerations for Choosing the Perfect Thar Desert Camp

Finding the best Thar desert camp

The Thar Desert, or the Great Indian Desert, is a huge and beautiful landscape that covers over 200,000 sq KM in northwest India and Pakistan. Visiting the Thar Desert is a unique and enriching experience, combining natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and adventure.

The Thar Desert is renowned for its mesmerising landscapes, characterised by vast stretches of golden sand dunes across the Jaisalmer district, its undulating terrain and an ever-changing play of light and shadow, intensified at dawn and dusk by the orange-red tides of sunrise and sunset.

Where once camels carried Maharajas, Rajput warriors, traders and precious cargo, they now offer visitors the chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and ride across the desert, experiencing the same awesome immensity, windswept horizons and ancient Rajasthani hospitality as travellers did so long ago. Camel safaris and desert camps have been a mainstay of life in the Thar Desert for eons, and today remain an essential part of the Jaisalmer desert experience.

One of the best ways to experience the Thar Desert is to stay in one of the desert camps in Jaisalmer. Staying overnight in a Jaisalmer desert camp near the dunes offers a great place to undertake activities in the desert, as well as the opportunity to return to comfortable accommodation in the desert camp, delicious local food, and cultural entertainment with music and dancing in the evening.

There are many desert camps in Jaisalmer, the golden city of Rajasthan, that cater to different tastes, budgets, and expectations. However, choosing the perfect desert camp can be a daunting task, as there are many factors to consider and compare. In this blog, we will guide you through the key considerations for choosing the best desert camp in Jaisalmer for you, and help you make the most of your Jaisalmer desert safari adventure.

The first and foremost consideration for choosing the best desert camp is its location, as it determines the nature and quality of your experience, and the best desert camps are in the Jaisalmer desert. There are two main locations for the best desert camp in the Jaisalmer region: Sam Sand Dunes, Jaisalmer and Khuri Sand Dunes.

The golden Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer are undeniably among the most picturesque in India, stretching in places to the height of 60 meters across the stark and arid landscape, cutting into the vivid blue sky. Sam Sand Dunes are renowned for their spectacular sunsets and starry nights, which create a magical atmosphere across golden wind-swept sands sweeping out to the horizon.

Visitors to the dunes not only have the opportunity to explore the vast desert landscape and witness its breathtaking beauty. Sam Sand Dunes merge with the region’s Desert National Park where, despite its aridness, there is an abundance of birdlife and it is home to the critically endangered great Indian bustard and the beautiful Indian gazelle, a common antelope in the area.

Sam Sand Dunes is also an adventure lover’s paradise, with plenty of fun and entertaining activities, like going on a camel safari, jeep safari, quad biking and culture shows.

For these reasons, Sam Sand Dunes is the most popular location for desert camps in Jaisalmer. Sam Sand Dunes are located relatively near Jaisalmer at around 40 KM from Jaisalmer fort, making them easily accessible from Jaisalmer city.

The other area near Jaisalmer with dunes and desert camps is the Khuri Sand Dunes, located about 50 KM south of Jaisalmer Fort. They are known for their white sand, and low dunes, and are less popular, with a more serene atmosphere. However, due to their remoteness, they may not offer the same level of comfort, convenience, choice and entertainment as Sam Sand Dunes.

Depending on your preferences, you can choose a desert camp that is located at either Sam Sand Dunes or Khuri Sand Dunes. Either way, you should also check the exact location of the camp, as some camps are closer or farther from the dunes, the main road and the sunset point.

The best desert camps in Jaisalmer, like Queen of Thar desert camp, are located right beside the dunes. This means the camels and jeeps take visitors on desert safari into the dunes directly from the camp and return them directly back to camp and their accommodation, which is not possible for some located farther from the dunes. Queen of Thar is located close to Jaisalmer Sam, a town in the heart of the desert that bustles with jeeps and local men and women from the surrounding villages as they stock up on supplies.

The next consideration for choosing the best desert camp for your trip is its accommodation, as it determines the level of comfort and luxury that you can enjoy in the desert. Comfort and hygiene will be top priorities for most travellers when selecting a desert camp – most travellers prefer desert camps offering well-appointed luxury tents, such as a Swiss tent, equipped with modern amenities including Western toilets and showers, meaning a blend of rustic evocative charm and contemporary comfort, and clean facilities throughout.

There are a range of different types of desert camp accommodation.

On one end are camps with the cheapest and simplest tents that provide the bare minimum facilities and amenities. Tents are mounted on the sandy ground, usually having a simple single or double bed, a common bathroom, and a basic meal plan with disposable cups, crockery and cutlery. They are suitable for budget travellers who want to spend the minimum, do not mind roughing it in the desert and do not expect much comfort or service.

There are mid-range desert camps that provide a decent level of modern facilities and amenities. Mid-range desert camps will generally offer accommodation in a stylish luxury Swiss tent, with a double bed or twin beds (a few even have king sized beds), a private, attached bathroom with running water and power, and a buffet meal in a dining area. A mid-range desert camp is eminently suitable for most travellers who want a comfortable and enjoyable stay in the desert. With a careful choice, travellers can get very good luxury desert camp accommodation for a very reasonable price, suitable for singles, couples and families.

Then for luxury travellers who want a lot of pampering and indulgence and do not mind splurging on their desert safari, at the other end of the spectrum are the most expensive and lavish desert camps. The high end luxury desert camps are like resort camps and provide a high level of facilities and amenities with king or queen bed, an attached bathroom with hot water and toiletries, modern facilities for business people, gourmet dining and additional features such as a swimming pool or, in some best luxury desert camps, a spa.

A few camps even have a playground for children that can keep them entertained for hours while parents are relaxing after the long drive to the desert.

Another important consideration when choosing the best desert camp for you and your companion(s) is the activities the desert camp offers, as they will significantly influence the level of fun and adventure that you and your companions have on your visit. A good camel safari camp can ease the trouble of searching for providers amongst the array of options and the need to find trustworthy drivers. Not only do visitors to Jaisalmer desert camps have the opportunity to see the vast Thar Desert landscape and witness its breathtaking beauty and wildlife. Sam Sand Dunes is also an adventure lover’s paradise. 

There are many activities that you can do, such as camel safaris, dune bashing and desert tours. However, not all Jaisalmer desert camps offer the same range and quality of activities, so it is important to check the availability, quality and cost of any activities that you might be interested in before you book.

The best Jaisalmer desert camps will offer a good selection of these activities for a reasonable price, and ideally will also have good, reliable and courteous drivers who can be trusted to provide an excellent experience.

At a minimum, choose a desert camp that offers camel safaris, jeep safaris and cultural evening programs featuring folk dancing and music by local artists. But there are plenty of entertaining activities which will be offered by a good camp to make your Sam Sand Dunes experience really special. They can be done separately or as part of a package.

Don’t we all know that the words desert and camel are synonymous? A camel ride or walk with a camel provides the ultimate Thar Desert experience. Going on a camel safari is one of the most popular activities that you can do in the desert, as a camel safari allows you to intimately explore the sand dunes at a quiet, gentle pace and experience the traditional mode of transportation in the desert.

The best desert camps in Jaisalmer will give you the option of what sort of camel safari suits you. A short camel ride lasting just an hour or two, perhaps taking advantage of your overnight stay in the desert safari camp to take a trip from your camp up to the top of the dunes to watch the sunrise or sunset.

Some camps offer longer camel safaris too, plodding gently with your camel further into the dunes until it is time to make camp, settling down for chai as the sun descends behind the horizon, then watching your camel driver cook Rajasthani dinner over a campfire, and after eating, resting under your thick quilted blanket or in a small tent, desert camping under the stars in the midst of the Jaisalmer desert. See for example Jaisalmer Camel Safari

Fun is not a one-size-fits-all of course and Jeep safaris are also a fun way to explore and range from a relatively gentle exploration through the tracts of the vast desert to wild action packed adventures. So the best Jaisalmer desert camps will offer different kinds of jeep safari so you can choose one or use a variety of excursions according to what best suits your tastes.

Dune bashing is one of the more thrilling and exciting activities that you can do in the desert and is on the to-do list of most people who visit a Jaisalmer desert camp, as it offers an exhilarating and memorable experience. Sam Sand Dunes are the most popular spot for desert safaris and dune bashing in India.

Dune bashing basically involves riding a 4×4 vehicle across the sand dunes of Thar Desert, experiencing the thrill of speed, driver dexterity and gravity. The experienced driver will take the off-road vehicle down through the desert gullies and up over sand dunes at high speed, making sharp turns, jumps and slides. You will feel the thrill of going up and down the dunes, sometimes at an angle of 45 degrees or more. You can read more about it in The Ultimate Guide to Dune Bashing in Jaisalmer

Dune bashing will usually last for about 30 minutes or up to an hour. However, the best Jaisalmer desert camps offer longer or shorter jeep safaris and the ability to combine dune bashing and jeep safaris with other activities like camel rides, camping in the desert or other types of desert safari.

It is important, as with a camel safari, that jeep safaris are run by good, experienced, reliable drivers who can be trusted to provide a safe and fun experience, and a good camp will have made sure of the quality of the drivers who serve their guests.

While Sam Sand Dunes and Jaisalmer fort and city are a must see on any visit, there are many more places to visit around the Jaisalmer district than just Jaisalmer fort and the dunes. The best Jaisalmer desert camps offer tours that visit the other ancient and interesting places to see in the desert.

The Jaisalmer heritage sites include Lodrawa, the ancient capital of the Bhatti dynasty till 1156 AD, and Bada Bagh, the historical garden complex built by the Maharajas of Jaisalmer in the 16th century. Also, Amar Sagar Jain Temple, the ruins of haunted Kuldhara village, the Desert National Park, desert life and may include camping in Jaisalmer’s desert. Many people also like to go to the border to visit Tanot Temple, a day-long tour that warrants a two-night stay in your desert camp as you return to base after a long day for freshening up, comfort and relaxation.

You can read more about all the things you can do on a desert tour in Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Jaisalmer’s Desert 

There are plenty of other activities to do in Jaisalmer desert that may be offered by a good desert safari camp; activities like quad bike riding, sand baking and body surfing to name a few. These are usually offered in association with a jeep safari or dune bashing, but there are also providers along Jaisalmer – Sam – Dhanana Rd, the highway that takes you to Sam Sand Dunes.

Thar Desert near Jaisalmer is known to be one of the best places for stargazing in India. The clean dry air makes Sam Sand Dunes an excellent location for gorgeous night views, with moonlit dunes of sand below and a sparkling canopy of stars above.

Away from city lights, the night sky comes alive with stars, providing a serene and peaceful experience to enjoy the tranquillity of the desert night and to view the Milky Way and the many other beautiful constellations visible in the Indian night skies, such as Cygnus, Orion, and Ursa Major. All before going back to your luxury tent at the desert camp for a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed. Stargazing is a really lovely experience after a hectic day of sightseeing.

The other offering to look for in a desert camp is its cultural activities, which give guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of Jaisalmer Rajasthan.

At Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer, all good desert camps provide cultural performances, usually as part of their package, these typically take place in the evening or at night after the day’s activities are over. These commonly include traditional Jaisalmer and Rajasthani folk music performed with traditional instruments and tribal dance including Kalbeliya and Bhavai Chakri (balancing clay pots). Rajasthani folk songs often tell the mythical stories of local glorious, legendary kings and their queens and mortal fallibilities, and their unique cultural performances bring Rajasthan desert culture to life.

These evenings are amongst the most highly rated and enjoyable activities that you can do in the desert, giving visitors an opportunity to watch and participate in the local culture and traditions of the Jaisalmer desert. Then finish the evening with a delicious authentic Rajasthani meal, before going back to a luxury tent at the desert camp for a good night’s sleep in a safe and comfortable bed.

Another consideration when choosing the best desert safari camp in Jaisalmer is its food. Most mid-range and luxury desert camps offer a buffet dinner, but not all desert camps offer the same range and quality of food, and some may charge extra for it.

Consider this if you wish to enjoy the local cuisine. Jaisalmer cuisine is a delightful reflection of the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan. It is a unique blend of traditional Rajasthani and Mughlai flavors., and reflects the desert lifestyle, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and incorporating a variety of spices and pulses.

For example, among the most popular Rajasthani dishes is Gatte Ki Sabzi, and you’ll find an amazing version of it in Jaisalmer. This exquisite curry features gram flour (besan) gatta (soft, juicy gram flour balls) served in a spicy yogurt-based curry. Ker Sangri is a Rajasthani delicacy made using dried Ker berries and Sangri beans, a particular berry available only in the desert region.

Some desert camps in Jaisalmer offer traditional authentic local food and popular dishes, like Gatte, Ker Sangri and Dal Bati Churma, and some do not.Vegetarians may wish to select a desert camp that features an extensive exclusive vegetarian menu. Jain individuals will wish to select a desert camp where no meat is prepared in their kitchens.

In considering any desert camp, it is important to peruse reviews from previous visitors. These will give you insight into the actual experiences offered by the camp, with feedback about their hospitality, amenities, activities and overall ambience. This will help you make an informed decision about the quality of the camp, which can sometimes be hidden behind a layer of spin.

Firstly, make sure you are reading reviews on a reputable website. Online booking companies will only publish reviews written by guests who have stayed at the desert camp, have clear guidelines for quality communication, and usually monitor guest reviews and responses from hosts. Google is also a popular tool for writing and reading reviews and is easy to access for a quick scan of opinions.

Look at the total number of reviews recorded, the more the better, and the overall rating, keeping in mind that no hotel is going to have 10/10 ratings all of the time. A suggestion is to look for a desert camp that has an overall score of 7/10 and above.

Expect variations in comments from previous guests. But look for comments on the considerations mentioned in this article, particularly on the service provided by the camp, how the camp managed their desert safari, the respectful behaviour, helpfulness and friendliness of staff, cleanliness and hygiene of the bathroom, tent and entire campsite, and family friendly features such as safety and a playground, all of which will have such a big impact on the quality of your trip.

Safety is always a consideration when choosing a holiday. Fortunately, Thar Desert in Jaisalmer is generally a safe and peaceful place, and desert camps pose few safety concerns.

Like any desert, the heat of Thar Desert can pose some health challenges in the summer, such as dehydration, sunburn and dust allergies. You should drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen and a hat, and if you suffer from allergies cover your nose and mouth with a scarf.

If you are travelling internationally you should also consult your doctor before your trip, and get any necessary vaccinations or prescriptions and travel insurance.

If you are not staying in a reputable desert camp in Jaisalmer avoid travelling alone at night in underpopulated areas, keep an eye on your belongings when out and about, and avoid carrying too much cash or valuables. You should also be respectful of the local culture, customs and laws. These precautions apply to most holidays.

In any reputable desert camp, you can be comfortable knowing that you have a high level of safety and security in the desert. In selecting one though, check out the number, availability and quality of the staff, and cleanliness. In addition, look for signs of a family-friendly environment, such as statements in reviews by other guests, and activities suitable for kids.

Staying at a Jaisalmer desert camp can be a wonderful family holiday provided you go through a reputable camp with good activities and good, responsible drivers. It can be a memorable and fun way to bond with your loved ones. 

You should make sure that your family is ready and willing to participate in activities such as dune bashing. Some people prefer to sit next to the jeep driver within the protection of the jeep cabin as it drives across the dunes, which means that a family with people of all ages can enjoy the jeep safari. Children can learn about desert and camels too on their desert safari in Jaisalmer.

A few desert camps, like Queen of Thar at Jaisalmer, also have a children’s play area within the desert camp and parents can relax in knowing that their kids are well entertained whilst they settle in.

Yes, provided you go through a reputable Jaisalmer desert camp like Queen of Thar Desert Camp with good, responsible staff and drivers, it is both safe and can be very pleasurable to stay in a desert camp and enjoy all its activities as a solo traveller – Jaisalmer is a very peaceful place in India.

You have the option of joining others or enjoying the freedom and flexibility to explore the desert at your own pace and style. Some travellers enjoy the solitude and tranquillity of the sand dunes, exploring the desert without the distraction of other people. Others enjoy sitting amongst and socialising with other camp guests in the activities arranged by the camp.

Yes, a desert camp stay is both safe and can be very pleasurable for female travellers, including solo female travellers, provided they go to a reputable Jaisalmer desert camp with good, responsible staff and drivers, who look after the guests and arrange the tours and activities.

Queen of Thar Desert Camp is always delighted to host women travelling solo and arrange desert safaris or other activities to suit their preferences and will make sure they depart and return to the camp safely. Rani, the co-owner of Queen of Thar, often travels solo and enjoys meeting and accompanying other solo female travellers and ensuring that they have a stress-free, unforgettable experience.

India has a long way to go in terms of establishing its environmental and sustainability credentials. Whilst air pollution is one of India’s greatest challenges, in the middle of the desert, the air is fresh and clean. However, India has yet to establish modern facilities for waste collection and recycling across the country. Of the waste that is collected in India, only around 5% is recycled and 18% is composted according to The production and use of plastics in India is one of the worst in the world. Severe heat waves affect crops and are contributing to food instability. With this in mind, what can you do when camping in Jaisalmer?

First and foremost, look for a luxury desert camp in Jaisalmer that shows it is well equipped for managing its use of single-use plastic. The best camps will offer free filtered water, avoid the use of plastic and disposable cups, crockery and cutlery and spout their efforts to reduce waste.

Secondly, many camps will not let leftover food go to waste. Composting in the heat of the desert is nearly impossible. But food fed to cows is much better than food discarded and left to rot. And, even though the air in the desert is clean compared to the cities, a desert safari camp that has planted trees offers not only shelter from the hot sun and a pleasing surround but also a small but important consolation to the country’s deforestation helping to offset carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere.

You can also reduce your impact on the environment by turning off the lights when you leave your luxury tents and keeping the desert sands clean by taking any waste such as chip wrappers back to camp to discard in waste bins after your safari desert adventure.

Consider the time of year you plan to visit the desert camp, as temperatures in the Thar Desert can vary significantly. Choose a desert camp that provides appropriate shelter and comfort based on the season.

The best time to visit the Jaisalmer desert is during winter, from October to February. This is when the Jaisalmer weather is pleasant and the sand in the desert around Jaisalmer is not too hot.

During summer, from April to September, it is very hot and dry and the temperature can soar up to 50°C. Very few people visit Jaisalmer at this time as it can be exhausting for tourists and sunburn and sunstroke can be a real hazard. So the middle months of the year are not a good time to visit, particularly if you wish to go on a desert safari.

The weather in Thar Desert is fairly stable from day to day, cool in the evenings during the winter months and 20-30°C during the day. But it is always wise to check the weather forecast before you travel and pack appropriate clothing and gear for the expected conditions. Make sure you bring a warm jacket, beanie and socks for the cool evenings. And when you are on your desert safari, wear sunglasses and make sure you stay hydrated and avoid sunburn.

Jaisalmer is well connected by road, rail and air from major cities of India. During the October to February season, you can fly directly to Jaisalmer. At other times, you can take a flight to Jodhpur in Rajasthan and then hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Jaisalmer. Alternatively, you can take a train to Jaisalmer railway station.

Sam Sand Dunes are 43 KM away from Jaisalmer city and can only be reached by car. You can hire a car in Jaisalmer, or a good desert camp can arrange a safe and reliable driver to pick you up from Jaisalmer city or the airport, and transfer you to the desert camp.  This is particularly attractive if the desert camp is located at the edge of Sam Sand Dunes and desert safaris set out from there.

Determine your budget and your preferred accommodation level, and compare it with the offerings of different desert camps in Jaisalmer. To have a great experience, it is important to consider value for money, factoring in amenities, service, activities like camel safaris, food and the overall experience – remembering that the cheapest price may well not deliver all that it promises or what you consider value for the money spent.

Check the desert camp’s cancellation policies, refund options and any additional fees to avoid surprises later. Remember that many desert camps and online travel agencies add taxes to advertised prices that only appear at the end of your booking journey, and cheaper prices may not be so cheap after all.

Choosing the perfect Thar Desert camp involves considering various factors to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Travelling across the sands of the desert on a camel safari and staying in a luxury Jaisalmer desert camp can be amongst the most beautiful and memorable experiences a traveller can have.  

Maharajas, Maharanis, traders and travellers alike have been visiting the sands of Thar Desert in Rajasthan since time immemorial. We hope we have helped you follow in their footsteps making the most of your never to be forgotten Jaisalmer desert safari adventure.

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