In the medieval era of wars and clashes for power, it was not a mere whim of the royalty to move to a new place with all they can lay their hands on, the arms and weapons, the women and children, the families and the soldiers. It was not so easy with the raising desert storms and vast arid lands where even water and food are luxuries not easy to find. Living in camps was a necessity, which the imagination and never-ending optimism of human minds turned into a more enjoyable experience with time. There were state processions, inter-kingdom journeys and royal pilgrimages that called for the origin of trips in the desert, more popularly known as safaris. Now, a major tourist attraction of the state, today the safari organizers not only make the basic comforts available to us but also ensure that one gets all the luxuries one craves for and that it should not be trying in the least but have all the rustic pleasures that are the central theme of these safaris. The common type of safaris have been discussed below:
Camel safaris: Camel, the much-famed ship of the desert has a rolling gait that may be a little uncomfortable in the beginning but you soon get adapted to it, as you understand its rhythm. You may chose from the option of camelback or camel-carts and it can be customized according to your choice. You may choose the number of days of the safari and also the routes on which you want to travel. You have to sit astride on a saddle mounted across the camel's hump, which makes a comfortable seat for you and the professional Raikas (the camel keepers) are there for your help. It is fun to travel through the vast arid desert land with these camel keepers dressed in as colorful and traditional costumes as the women whom you pass by on your way. It is amazing how these people know their way well instinctively where almost everything just seem to merge into one and can travel for days with the help of the position of the stars in the sky, which is like a compass for them.
Generally, 30 to 40 km is covered in a day in a camel safari and it is advisable to travel in the mornings and evenings and during the winter season and the scorching sun and hot desert winds can give you sunburns and heat strokes. It is advisable to wear clothes covering your body fully and wear a headgear, preferably, a local turban or sola-topee and drink lots of water to save from the ill-effects of the heat and dehydration and attract more smiles from the warm rural people that may wave at you as you pass by them. Camel Safari is most popular in the Sam sand sunes near Jaisalmer while the Shekhawati belt, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Pushkar and Nagaur are not far behind.
Elephant safaris: The camel may be the most common transport of the desert people and horses may be swift and agile but elephants have always gained favor with the imperial rulers of Rajasthan who rode the massive bulk with an air of majesty that only comes with the position of power. A howdah (a large seat on the back of the elephant lined with soft silk cushions for comfort) and a chhatra (a ceremonial umbrella) added to the grandeur of the rulers. Feel the same pride as the you ride through the architectural wonders of the beautiful cities or watch the wildlife of Rajasthan perched atop the huge but friendly elephants. Elephant safaris often require many attendants for the regal beast along with the mahouts (the elephant-trainers) and are, thus, the most lavish of all the above-mentioned safaris.
Jeep safaris: Riding in the open jeeps as a part of a jeep safari is much different experience from hiring an open taxi to commute between two places. More popular in winters, when sun is pleasanter and winds are cool and sometimes chilly, jeep safari takes you on an exploration of destinations that are not so well known but not any less majestic. Off the sands and sometimes off the roads, it is an enchanting experience to travel Rajasthan with a whole new perspective through the most romantic city of Udaipur and the thick forests of uneven terrain of Mewar. Rocks and hills surprise you in this desert land while the tribal areas, rural life and ruined forts and sacred temples all captivate you with an ethereal beauty of their own. You may travel through the Shekhawati belt and wonder at the painted towns huddled together in the arid scraggy desert surrounded by nothing but sand for miles and miles. The pace can be chosen according to your tastes and health and you may also chose to have brief periods of rest in some of the most exotic heritage hotels that have become an integral part of the tourism industry because of their old-worldly charm blended together with the high-tech conveniences and amenities to suit the needs of the tourists.>
Horse safaris: Horses have always been the favorite among the warrior-class of Rajputs. Though, the camels are most suitable of all the species for roaming in a desert land but cavalry of Rajasthan was certainly not neglected or trivialized in the least. Thakurs bred special horses at their thikanas (refined homes) and kept ready the best horsemen to serve their kings in the time of need. The native Marwari horses are hardy and agile and are still considered one of the world's best breeds of horses. The other notable breeds of horses that have served here are the Kathiawadi and Sindhi. The routes covered in these Horse safaris pass through villages, ruined historical monuments, forts and temples and are much fun along with the heritage hotels on the way where you camp for relaxation and to have some exotic meal and perhaps a little snooze. Depending on your affinity to the horses, you may chose to trot or canter through the beautiful trails of the state and add a little more fun to it by wearing the traditional riding gear that consists of much-famed Jodhpuri breeches, hat and boots. The best options for Horse safaris can be found in Shikarbadi at Udaipur, Anokhi village near Jaipur and Aodhi near Kumbhalgarh and Ghanerao.
Rajasthan is well known for camel, elephant and horse safari. Know more about desert safari in Rajasthan, India.