Travel · Trekkings

An Aurulent Odyssey : Jaisalmer, YHAI Desert Trekking

After a cold night long journey in the train from Jodhpur visit, we landed in Jaisalmer around 5AM. We caught the auto from the station and immediately hurried towards the BSF (Border Security Force) camp, where our YHAI camp was set up. All along the road one can see the BSF base on either side with here and there hotel buildings. We landed at the camp site in 15 odd minutes, and in that bone chilling cold morning, we were expected to fill up some forms and attest our photos to the admit card.

With all that done, finally we were allocated an empty tent. Apparently we were the first ones to be there from our batch. So an tent number 8 was allocated to us, we rushed off towards it, in desperate seek of shelter and warmness from the bitter cold.

We took some rest for a while till we get acclimatised for the cold weather and then wander around the camp site to see its vastness. This camp site was pretty big to accommodate Family, cycling and trekkers with each batch of 50 odd members.

Next we went on to look for our morning accustoms which needs to be done. The restrooms were organized by the BSF themselves properly and the camp organizers had separated out in 2 sections: one for family and other set for trekkers and cyclist.

Thanks to YHAI and BSF folks in maintaining and providing and constructing the comfortable restroom at this premises. With wind gusting through the tents, nature calls were really relished 😀

By around 8 AM, still the weather outside was chilling and there was no much mood for us to enjoy the outside arena. Yet we marched out of our tent for some snaps. One thing its must to emphasis about YHAI and all of its camp site is (based on my experience as well) is that the cleanliness which is strictly followed and emphasized to all by every one here is just commendable.

While we waiting for our breakfast to be served, we then decided to charge all of our digital equipments here while more and more batch mates enrolling in.

It was evidently noted here is that where the charging point was present there a big circle used to be always present exchanging talks and getting to know each other.

In this new digital age, to group up people, provide a common charging place is the mantra 😉

With spending the whole life in the concrete jungle such as bangalore, this place provide a tranquil setting in which to unwind. Moving on, as the first day was just for acclimatize and sight seeing, and by this time we had made a good friend who was a solo traveller for the first time and a tent mate, himself calling as “vatsal” and was from Mumbai. At first he looked very pale and malnourished to us yet a determined chap with silence much visible. With more getting to know about each other we then decided to unravel the plan for rest of the day. Vatsal as well wished to join us for this plan. We 4 of us got our-self prepared and left the camp around by 9.

Bada Bagh:

This place existed outside of the city and we took a rickshaw to this. Legend says that this place is the only place in and around jaisalmer which has greeneery all over it.

This is due to the fact that a small reservoir was being constructed by the kings who ruled over this place. This reservoir helped the people all across this land for water resources and farming.

The roads in and around the jaisalmer is being well maintained by the army force. Its definitely commendable about their hard work and keep it well clean of the surrounding areas.

Around 10 kms away from the main city, we reached this place wherein a 50 INR entry fees was received. From distance this place looks beautiful, but at a closer look its all ruined and no maintenance done to the least. An entry fees taken is what made useful, i wonder! This place was then turned graveyard for the royal family, ever since.

There were alot of royal graves here belong to the kings and their relatives depicting the number of wives each had.

Along with the king, the age old tradition also mandate the wives to scarifies themselves via sati system, hence one can see the grave of kings and his queens along in the same place.

We roamed around this place and wondering about the number of wives these kings had by looking at the markings on their grave stone.

I kept thinking, what make these kings wanting to marry so many : was it because of the status? or was it because of wish? I never know! 😮

The guide we hired to explain about this grave did gave us quite a good information and knows how to talk. Quite a smart person himself, we chatted away for a while with him though.

Once the show was over, we decided to have some look around a bit with few photo shoots. Doing so, we found the typical mess our people create : Beer bottles, plastics. When do we improvise? 😮

These sculptures draws the inspiration from the mogul age yet some essence of our own. Unlike the moguls, these are built in a interlocking pattern such a way that it can withstand the earthquakes. These interlocking joints are free to move thus providing any one to disassemble them away like lego blocks 😉

Gadsisar Lake:

After finishing the royal grave, we then decided to hit back to the city center by visiting this water reservoir build ages ago by the kings for not only consumption purposes but as well serving as an entertainment theater.

This lake is surrounded by temple and mini fort. Boating is as well available in this lake.

Our camera wandered across this place for few snaps which depicted the local culture. 386223904882614pizapw1422811122

Fort:

After finishing this place, we then decided to visit the living fort in Rajasthan. This fort looks beautiful from outside and almost golden due to its special stone color from which its built from ground up.

Standing on the roof top of this fort, one can easily draw an virtual circumference of this city which is very small.

This fort is overly crowded with dwellers just as it used to be in the olden days but with less population, i believe. It also has few temples with in its boundaries.

Camel skin based or so claimed as items are sold outside of this fort, although one has to be cautious when buying such items at not so cheap price.

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By around 6 PM, we decided to hit back to the base camp as the evening shall gets more colder here and prepare for the next day trek.

Day 1: 28th Dec

The first day of the trek, the camp leader and the program director with few others assembled all of us for some briefing.

After an hour program, we had our breakfast at the base camp which was always finger licking good and memorable. We were then commanded to form a line and get ready with our minimal baggage for the next 5 days of no bath or proper cleanup and deposit back the remaining luggage so as to make room for the incoming batch people.

By this time we had found 2 another good people who were part of our tent from the previous night. They each named themselves as Rafiq and Aditya from Kerala and TN respectively. Our group from 3 (Myself, Harish and Mallikarjuna) had now become 6 (3 + Vatsal, Rafiq and Adithya) and we all seemed to do well together so far regardless of our language, culture, etc.

Once the depositing was done, we then proceeded towards the bus which would drop us off to the next camp which was around 30 kms away from the base camp. hmm..Not so walkable, to hell with trekking : i felt 😦

Our first camp was Khabha, the bus dropped us off around 3 kms away from this camp.The ride in this bus was as usual, but the view we got around along the road side was beautiful though deserted over the horizon.

After grabbing our gear, took few snaps at this deserted place next to the highway.
All around us, the place was just barren with no single soul lurking to the miles apart.

By this time, our camp leader : an retired teacher arrived. Greeting all of us, he took us to the camp site. Meanwhile we spotted few deers in this landscape as per his words.

As we started walking silently, at the distance of around a km away all of us started to spot herds of deer.
No matter how quite we marched ahead and tried to spot those deers with a better camera shots, they were always 1 step ahead of us in spotting us and running away. Yet with the small digital equipment we had, we managed to get few snaps of it though at a distance. This was one of those moments, we wished to have a bigger lenses 😦

After around 20-30 mins of walk in that dusk time, we reached the khabha camp.

Once reaching this camp, few of us rested and few of us went ahead to occupy our tents and cleaning it.

 

 

 

 

 

As usual, once we reach any camp site, after settling down with the tents and taking up the sleeping bags by each, we are given instruction about the camp site, open air toilet locations for males and females, washable vs drinking water locations, food and tea timings, etc. by the camp leader.

By around 5 PM, we were served with tea and biscuits and then we went for a near by farm land over the small hill for the sun set as informed by our camp leader. There we spend few hours taking snaps and playing around.

A few masti at this place wouldn’t do any harm 😉

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That evening, we just spent more time in the tent discussing and joking around. At around 8 the dinner was served. Later we went for a walk around the tent area. The day did ended with not so well trekking yet with justifiable getting to know people and making new friends.

Day 2: 29th Dec

Next morning, we all woke up early finished off all our open air nature calls in the very early hours then decided to hit the near by area for a better sun rise view and few snaps.

Unleashing our creativity with the cameras 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 7 AM or so the tea was ready with biscuits. After that we had breakfast around 8 and then departed to the next camp. This upcoming journey was the real one which lasted for more than 5 hours of walk in the middle of nowhere. Walking under the hot sun yet breezy wind in midst of desert land is really awesome feeling one must get.

While we were trekking, out of no where a dog runs by us, it played with us for few minutes and then we wanted to feed it with the biscuits in our bag.

Unfortunately the dogs in this area never have tasted biscuits, i believe. The food we offered was straight away rejected with out even tasting it by this cute dog. It then left us waving goodbye by its wiggling tail and disappeared in few minutes over the landscape.

Further on, we found a large patch of bright yellow sand and the vast land surrounding it gave a good location for some photo shoot 😉

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Walking in the bright hot sun in the desert sand, we not only felt a bit strained in the legs but we also were visited by the junglee camels grazing all over the places. One such gave a good pose for us over looking the horizon 😉

Our convoy looked best, trekking over the desert land.

Around noon, we stopped for a resting point till the rest of the convey catches up to proceed.

Before our next pit stop, we decided for a few landscape photoshoot.

Further into our path, we encountered few local village folks, dressed in the cultural heritage who looked like folk dancer group.

 

After enjoying folk dance for a while and paying them up, we then continued our journey in the hot sun. In the cold December month, the desert was quite a bit hot, while i kept wondering in summer weather if it would be a hot oven.

At around 4 PM, we reached the Sam sand dunes camp site. To our dismay, unlike other camp site, this one was in the middle of over crowded area and next to highway. Sam sand dunes is pretty famous place and people all over the country visit this sand dunes and the resorts available here.

This camp site was a bit led down to me personally though since i always love the deserted place to conceal myself away. As usual, the camp leader welcomed us and we were distributed our sleeping bags and we assigned ourselves comfortably to the respective tents available for men and women.

While we rested for a while, hot beverages with biscuits were made ready to us. As the instructions were laid out to us about the camp site, nature call sites, dangers of outsiders might lurk around, etc. we then decided to hit the sand dunes in the later part of the evening around 6 for the sunset.

Then before the sun starts to set down completely over the horizon, we decided to play along in the sand for a while. So time to unleash our childishness 😀

The hope of friendship bonding 😉

After dusk, we returned back to our camp site as we were requested to not lurk outside the compound as it could not be much safer around. When we were back, we were served with dinner around 730. Then a small folk concert was arranged by the YHAI with half paid expenses by us.

The performance was really good and it went on for an hour. In the cold night, we all sat down and watched the performance by them. It was truly commendable art.

Day 3: 30 Dec

The next morning, we all prepared for the surprising ride of this trek: The camel ride. This was fully sponsored by the YHAI themselves.

Required number of camel were already assembled in front of our camp site to pick us up. We were informed to leave early as possible due to the longer distance. Around 8 AM, we all boarded the desert ship and began to march ahead.

To me personally, the whole camel ride seemed pointless as the terrain in which we traveled for like 2 hours was not that difficult nor bad than a plain land, with no sand, yet it was longer one in a colder morning.

We made a pitstop for feeding the camels and take a big of rest in the bright hot son. We were not that tired as the weather was really cold even at the peak hours of the day.

After along walk in the deserted cold landscape, passing along few villages, we were finally dropped along a road side from where we are supposed to walk for the rest of the day to reach our Sudasari camp site.

In the middle of nowhere, there was a road with zebra crossing. Hmm.. we wondered 😉

Traveling further on the road was more fun and all along the stroll, no where we could find a soul till our eye sight could meet the horizon 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onward, we traveled on this road, the landscape was getting more beautiful all along. The yellow-golden sand, cold breezing wind, desert barren texture with hardly can be noticed canopy made the journey more pleasant yet different.

Next comes our pit-stop for lunch around 1PM.

The cold chilling breeze was still something to irritated about and i preferred for some sun. After the lunch, what else one prefers under the warm sun from the irritating cold wind with nothing to ponder upon the world pleasures 😉
The best sleep one can have without any man-made comfort. The mother earth is just beautiful and comfortable.

After an hour, we decided to start off, with tough breaking my sleep, i continued towards the camp with the rest of the troop.

We were suppose to reach the Sudasari National Reserve forest area where our camps were laid down with special permission from the Rajasthan national forest conservation authorities.

 

 

 

 

We could not find this black buck bird at all, though we camped in the same area for a day long. Only the memory of this sign board with the bird is available with us today, sad! 😦

Finally, we entered the Sudasari Forest Reserve, wherein we were greeted by our camp leader who all the way from Camp had come to the forest entrance area to receive us.

From the entrance of the forest reserve, we had to further walk down for another 3 kms or so to reach our camp area. The whole area just looked so deserted and wild. This serene vast wilderness just gives you more adrenaline to explore much more ;). Truly the mother earth is just beautiful beyond imagination.

At last, we entered the camp site in between of no where 😉

The first cute fella to greet was this naughty puppy who was really cute, cuddly and playful. I just dropped off my rucksack and started to play with him 😀

 

 

 

Like rest of the camp sites, the protocol is to rest for a while in the camp area with sipping hot coffee with biscuits and chit-chat with the fellow convoy about the days experience and joke around for a while. This followed by cleaning up our tent area and assembling at a common point for the rules to be laid down by the camp leader.

At distance we could eye upon a deserted sand dunes which was just what we wishes all along to experience as the Sam sand dunes were just too commercialized and crowded with garbage every where. This sand dunes of Sudasari seemed to be just tailored to our wishes. Thanks to YHAI for providing us this experience of sand dunes.

As planned, we hit it out to this sand dunes in the evening. All around us, no garbage, no soul was found lurking around this area. Perhaps the pleasant feel was nurtured by this dunes.

While we were at this sand dunes, we were able to spot the desert fox doing its business, though we tried to slow down and get close to it for a better photo, the wild fox was much smarter than us to run away.

Nevertheless, we chased it down and tried to capture the photo of it with our limited capacity camera equipment.

The best shot we could got. (Left side of pic, zoom in,)

After chasing the fox, we were back to have some fun on the dunes in the dusk.

Meanwhile, the 2 tweety birds started dancing to the tune of the dunes dusk 😛

After the sun went down, we returned back for the camps.

Day 4: 31 Dec

The next day morning was much more brutally cold. We were wake up early in the morning to a bone chilling cold weather.

It was almost impossible to touch the freezing cold water. Few minutes out of the gloves, our fingers would go numb. With much difficulty, we prepared ourselves and washed our utensils.

For the days journey through the dry land and desert to the next camp :Barna, we were accompanied by a camel wagon which carried the water needed and luggage if any body cant carry it.

We again traveled through barren lands with a patch of cultivation done here and there with lonely huts up the hill. These lonely houses looked beautiful and pleasant to live in. With deep thinking in the back of my mind of wishing to have such houses in the middle of now where, i continued the journey.

After a while of plain desert land, we were again welcomed by the path of sand dunes. The convoy again rested here for the rest of the troops to join up. Though the sun was bright and hot, the cold wind continued to keep us cold and normal.

Time again for us to play in this sand for a while 😉 These sand dunes just made us go back in time from our younger days 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The canon ball throw of Mr. Rafiq was really a surprise move to him by us and it was way fun throwing him off 😈

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a few more stunt photos of our-self, the fun ended as the rest of the troops joined us.

 

 


 

At last we got the group photo taken with almost all folks present at the same location.

With the barna camp visible at a far distant, we continued our journey towards the camp in the bright hot sun.

This camp lies within the PAK border range of 60 Kms. We rested in the camp for a while and then hit out the near by sand dunes next to the highway for the year end sun set enjoyment in the nice company.

As the sun went down, the weather started to hit much harder and cold. The night was much colder than ever. While i decided to rest inside the warm tent, few folks tried to enjoy the new years night in the harsh cold wind with a camp fire.

Day 5: 1 Jan

The next morning was even worse than ever. It was colder, windy with dense fog.

The fog was really thick with only few feet distance of visiblity. Meanwhile, when we were getting ready, our transport had arrived back to drop us to base camp.

As our ride continued along the highway, the fog got more dense with more chilling weather. After 40 mins of ride, we reached the base camp.

The base camp was almost deserted with most of the batches have left for their voyage, we were given a tent and our rucksacks back from deposit counter.

While few of us took bath, i continued to shiver with all the woolen cloths on my body, yet it turned futile against this cold weather.
There was plenty of time for us to spend time here as our train was in the evening towards jaipur.

Few of the team from our batch waved good bye to each other and us for their onwards journey, we stick back to the base camp wasting time with the hope of some sunlight to warm up.

For the last 5 days, our device batteries were dried out, as one would find the oasis in the desert much importance: most of us rushed towards the charging point at the base camp with the same importance 🙄 . Again this became a social point for alarge number of people to exchange words. Fate of new age, i say 😯

We spent a while talking and wasting time at the base camp while we finished our breakfast and lunch there.

There after around 2PM we left the base camp with adeui to rest of remaining convoy, we departed towards the train station. On the way, our autowala took us to a handloom shop based on our request about buying things back for our home.

We spend next ~2 hours or so looking things to buy at this shop. The rates were not reasonable though but looked genuine products being sold here. They as well showed us alot of order receipts from different parts of the country.

We ordered few bed sets, sarees and stone made utensils and gave our addresses to be shipped back and departed to train station around 5 PM as our train to Jaipur was at 530.
I am yet to get the product from that shop due to the mishaps and idiotic mistakes done by the initial dispatch via stupid bastards Professional couriers 😡 , now my package is again dispatched second time via India post. Praying this time i get my package in a reasonable time.

Myself, Harish, malli and Rafiq departed towards jaipur, while adithya continued his journey towards Delhi.

With 6 long days of memories, sand in our shoes and dresses, we finally said adieu to the golden city : Jaisalmer, and welcoming for the pink city : Jaipur.

After 15 days of delay, i finally received the package which i had bought for mom.

The pottery work is made from Stone available only in jaisalmer area. The darker one is a rare rock available from deep underground and has medicinal values and other one is available all over the area and doesn’t possess any medicinal features but better than plastic storage.

The saree material is also hand made art work wherein the artisans use mud and other natural coloring agents to imprint various designs over the cloth material.

Thanks for reading,
Zen 🙂

P.S: Await for the next travelogue on Jaipur :mrgreen:

A kannada version on the same topic can be found here:
https://kcharish.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/inthelandofmarwarsdesert-jaisalmer/

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12 thoughts on “An Aurulent Odyssey : Jaisalmer, YHAI Desert Trekking

  1. Hi Zen,
    Thanks for describing the trek in detail, you motivated me to chose this trek 🙂
    I booked the same trek for this year end, had few questions :
    1. Do i need to buy some special shoe for desert trek ( I have Forclaz 500 from last year’s snow trek ) ?
    2. How cold it is ? I will do my packing accordingly 😉
    3. Does yhai connect people before the trek via fb group etc , they didn’t send any mail introducing the trek or the list of must haves for the trek

    This is my first time with yhai and to Rajasthan, your reply will be really very helpful 🙂

    1. Thanks and glad i could help.
      Great that you opted for this trek.
      My replies as follows:
      1. Nope. I just did or do all my treks in Forclaz 500. Its the best.
      2. It was really cold when i did it. The strong winds blowing does make it more worse especially in Jaisalmer. The rest of the places viz jaipur, jodhpur; werent that cold. So pack with better thermals yet make sure its not very heavy.
      3. Nope. YHAI doesnt do such. You can get what to get and more details about the trek at their website.

      Btw, i am really sorry for the late replies. Some how i got caught up with other words and treks and didnt look here. Hope my replies helps u.
      Have fun 🙂

    1. Hi,
      YHAI base camp has the charging points, though insufficient as alot of people would be plugged in. For me, i usually switch it off during the trek. So it saves alot of battery.

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