One of the must do experiences of the desert region is to hop a board a camel and go for a trek out in to the scrubby desert on your trusty steed to the great unknown. Whilst Jaisalmer, our next destination, is most famous for these treks Bikaner has a growing reputation for more responsible and less touristy camel safaris. We went with our guesthouses camel trek and wildlife spotting tour, kind of rolling 2 different experiences in to one and it was brilliant! We started in the jeep, heading out to the scrubby desert beyond Bikaner. Our guide Jitu, a professional zoologist was clearly enthusiastic and keen to show us and teach us about the different flora and fauna of the Thar! He spotted some beautiful tawny owls hiding in the tree trunk as if he'd put them there!
We also came across a huge herd of Camels out for grazing, and stopped for a tasty camel milk chai with the farmers.
We then headed to the area famous for its massive birds of prey and we were not left disappointed. Jitu calls the area the boneyard as the Bishnoi 'tree-hugging' villagers who live in the area bring all the deceased cows from the area here to become food for the huge population of massive vultures, eagles and other big carnivore birds.
Whilst the magnificent birds were a sight to behold it was also incredibly sad to see what was left behind once the cows bones had been picked dry. The area was dotted with little perfectly formed mounds of litter, each and every cows stomach. Those people reading this who have been to India will understand the sight of cows with their heads lost in bins and piles of plastic is a common sight. Even locals unaware of the inability of cows to digest plastic give the animals food waste tied in plastic bags. Sadly this graveyard of in digested plastic and bones is all that's left.
The safari itself whilst not Lawrence of Arabia through rolling dunes, we were were well aware this wasn't the Sahara, was still really fun. Trundling through the desert scrub land on top of an uncomfortable and horny camel was unforgettable. The mating season was upon us and the male camels calls to the females are casually regurgitating their fat pink gullet and making an awful Chewbacca esque wail. The ladies weren't impressed.
We camped up in a suitably remote feeling spot next to some dunes thankfully out of sight of any electricity pylons and civilization, a genuine feat this being India. It was only us and a friendly Scottish brother and sister along with our guide and the camel man, we all sat around the camp fire and ate our tasty curry. The Indians sang some Rajasthani folk songs, pots and pans for drums, then we sang Bohemian Rhapsody, classic. We slept in this tiny tent wrapped up super warm in the chilly desert night. It was a great action packed day and we were ready and eager for the final day of the camel festival that lay ahead come morning.
We took the camel cart back to the jeep in the morning in order to head back to Bikaner in time for our lift to the camel festival.