Jaisalmer was one of my favourite places in India. It was definitely a highlight of Rajasthan. Being in Jaisalmer was like living in a sandcastle. We had an absolutely incredible time in both the fort and the desert, made some camel friends, and I ate the BEST THING I’VE EVER TASTED.
I wasn’t expecting much from Jaisalmer, but I really loved this place! It’s called the Golden City and I can see why! The amazing fort in the middle of the city looks like a golden sandcastle and the city is gold- Jaisalmer is so lovely and I think it’s a must-see place! Phil and I spent 3 nights here (1 was spent in the desert), which I think was the perfect amount of time.
Where to Stay
We stayed at Hotel Victoria, which was such a treat. Hotel Victoria is inside the fort, which means that you get to walk through the amazing alleyways as part of your commute into town! It also means that the views are incredible! We stayed in both the deluxe double room and the standard. The rooms were beautiful; in our deluxe double room, we had an amazing terrace to sit out on and enjoy the views of the fort as well as the city below us. The standard double room was just as beautiful; it just didn’t have the terrace.
The hotel has an amazing rooftop to eat on. We’re travelling through Rajasthan during off-season, so they weren’t open for dinner, but I can imagine dinner here would be lovely! We had breakfast up here and it was really nice.
Where to Eat
Again, since we were travelling during off season, we didn’t get the full range of restaurants that you’d get during peak season, but we did find two GREAT restaurants and a lovely little cafe.
1st Gate Home Fusion: This restaurant is located in a really beautiful boutique hotel. There’s an air-conditioned section downstairs and a rooftop upstairs. I absolutely fell in love with ker sangri (a desert bean and berry dish that you can only get in the Rajasthani desert) and we ate this dish as often as we could! I also had their dal soup that was really tasty. We heard great things about their wood-fired pizzas, but we loved the ker sangri so much that couldn’t stray away and try the pizza!
Jaisal Italy: This restaurant has loads of pastas and pizzas, as well as Indian food! The pastas that I had were really tasty and not sweet, which I found some other places’ tomato-based foods to be. It’s a relaxing place with incredibly fast wifi!
The Traveler’s Cup: This café is a little hole in the wall, but it’s a nice place for breakfast and drinks, or a pick me up coffee when exploring the fort. The owner is SO nice. There was a power outage in Jaisalmer when we were at this restaurant and there wasn’t enough power to make the masala chai that I ordered, so he had his mum make some at home and bring it over to me! It’s located inside a bookshop and I could definitely imagine myself curled up in here with lots of tea and a good book.
What to Do
If you’re in Jaisalmer, you MUST do two things. These are 1) exploring the fort, and 2) a camel safari.
Exploring the fort is an absolute must because the Jaisalmer fort is one of the last, if not the last, living forts in India! People still live inside the fort and the alleyways are packed with laundry, little shops, homes, cafes, and incredible architecture. There are so many different alleyways to get lost in and they’re all absolutely lovely!
A camel safari is something I was set on doing, but I was afraid of the heat. Our guide said that it was 60 degrees the week before us! We did a tour with Real Desert Man Camel Safari, and they suggested doing an overnight trip. This was the perfect amount of time and I highly recommend this company. Before going, I was a little concerned about how the camels would be treated, but when I met the guides, it was so clear that the camels were very well loved and taken care of.
At 3pm, a Canadian couple, Phil, and I all set out in a jeep towards the Thar desert. We stopped at an abandoned village and a lake, where we saw lots of local animals getting a drink. After that, we continued on further away from Jaisalmer.
About an hour of driving later, we stopped at a village, where we met Honey, our desert guide, and our camels! My camel for the night was named Rambo and he is 20 years old! Phil’s camel was an eight-year-old named Al Pacino. Camels are cute, clumsy little guys.
We rode the camels for about an hour and a half. This doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is enough. Riding a camel is not very comfortable, but it’s SO fun anyway. You end your ride in the dunes. The Thar Desert only has small patches of dunes, but they are very pretty!
We had some downtime while masala chai was being made for us (so nice!), so we had some time to play on the dunes/take photos/explore.
When the chai was ready, we all sat on a cot, drank chai, and snacked on veg pakora.
Just a little while later, it was dinnertime! The dinner was all made by Honey on the open fire and it was DELICIOUS. We watched him make chapatis and they were the best I’ve had in India! We had a full thali set of rice, dal, chapati, and veg curry.
After dinner, we listened to some traditional songs being sung to us (so lovely!), and then had our beds made. We slept on cots under the stars and it felt so luxurious to have a bed with sheets, a blanket, and a pillow out in the middle of a desert!
It gets quite windy and chilly at night, so expect to wake up with sand everywhere.
In the morning, Honey woke us up for sunrise with chai. I mean seriously- this is luxurious. I wish I could get woken up with tea every morning!
After packing up the camp and finding the camels (who were left to roam during the night), we hopped back up onto them and had another hour ride back to the village, where the jeep was waiting for us. Just 45 minutes later, we were back in Jaisalmer and in need of a shower!
This was seriously one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had! I LOVED sleeping under the stars and getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life. And it was only about 1700 rupees (It will probably cost a little more during peak season)! So worth it!
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Jaisalmer was definitely one of the highlights of our Rajasthan trip! It’s further out into the desert than all of the other cities we visited, and it’s got a completely different vibe to all of them! Definitely check it out- you won’t regret it!
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