Mandawa – The beautiful haveli’s, desert mud huts, and the ride that broke the camels back.

After a 7 hour bumpy road trip out of Delhi, we arrive at a rural town called Shekhavati in Mandawa, where there are many extraordinary and beautiful heritage haveli’s, which were the traditional courthouse manors of the merchants to the now retired silk route.

Mandawa is usually a desert town but with the unprecedented heavy rains the months before, it is now an arid hard land littered with patches of healthy green grass and trees.

We stay at the desert mud hut resort which has a pool overlooking the rolling sand dunes of Mandawa.

T – ‘We’ve got a couple of hours before the camel safari, I’m thinking beer and pool.’

Sam, a graphic designer from London who had become my partner in crime‘Sounds good’.

2 hours of beer, pool, and the hot desert sun later, we were camel safari ready.

Apji – ‘Scott and Jason, you take the big one, Miriam and Dave the one on the left (indicating to the second largest camel) and Tiara and Sam, you’re on that one’, points to the slim pretty camel standing tall in-between to 2 other relaxed camels who were casually lying down.

Through the slight haze of dutch courage, and near sun stroke, I confidently walked up to our camel and giddily climbed on with the help and instruction of the camels keeper. I was comfortably seated when I felt my first twinge of fear as the animal made a premature attempt to rise before Sam had even finished jumping on behind me.

T and Sam – ‘Whoa!’ Desperately trying to work out what to hold on to.

Sam figured the safest bet was to hang onto the back-pack that I was wearing, and all I could see were the ropes that tied the seat to the camel. The impatient camel hurriedly jerks up onto its front legs and, being the total camel riding amateur that I was, I grab onto the ropes, shut my eyes tightly, and lean forward to curl myself as close to the camel as possible – if I could have wrapped my arms around the beast I would have.

Tip to any inexperienced camel rider – LEANING FORWARD IS NOT THE WAY TO DO IT!! The camel still has to raise its hind legs, and as it does, your propelled onto the camels neck. Secondly, the camel does not like that kind of pressure on the base of its neck!

Apji, shouting – ‘HOLD ON HOLD ON HOLD ON!!’


T, screaming –‘Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!’

Camel, crying – ‘Meuoarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!’ Struggling to stand on all fours

As I fearfully stare down the camels neck to the hard ground, envisioning my broken fall (first onto the camels neck, pissing it off, then hitting the ground, then being trampled on and dragged for half a mile), one word flashes before me – Insurance.

Apji – ‘Don’t worry, (how long has our camel been trained to carry people on her back?) She’s only new, but don’t worry’

Insurance Insurance Insurance

We manage to get into a casual, pleasant pace, Sam clinging onto me, me clinging onto the camel seat, and the camel taking spontaneous and erratic leg kicks and sudden head turns to chomp on tree leaves.

An hour into the ride, Apji asks – ‘Does everyone want to have chai at a villagers house?’

Everyone – ‘Sure!’

T, not wanting the trauma of getting off and on the camel again – ‘I’ll take my chai on the camel thanks’

Sam – ‘Do they have drive-through?’