Sam Sand Dunes

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Time Required: 3-4 hrs

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Sam Sand Dunes, Jaisalmer Overview

Sam Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer is an offbeat natural tourist destination in Rajasthan right in the middle of the Thar Desert. Right in the middle of the historical forts and colourful markets, Sam Sand Dunes are among the best and most authentic in the country, some rising as tall as 30-60 metres tall. Lying around 40-42 kilometres from the golden city of Jaisalmer, the dunes are located over calm and undulating stretches of golden yellow sand stretching for around 2 kilometres along the borders of the Jaisalmer Desert National Park. Travellers often come here to witness the dramatic and sunrise and sunsets. You can also gain a close insight into the culture and tradition of Rajasthan with dances and musicals that are staged around the campfires at night.

If you have some time, do camp in the desert with the locals! There is a tradition of crackling up a bonfire with your fellow tourists and enjoying the festivities the evening brings in the campsites. In short, a visit to the Sam Sand Dunes is a once in a lifetime experience, with its uncovered and unadorned natural beauty and the true culture of the state in its unabridged authenticity.

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1. Camel Safari - Camels are the lifeline in the barren deserts of Rajasthan, and they are not only tamed and used for commuting or goods carrying purposes, but also as a source of income for the local people. The villagers residing at the edge of the Sam Sand Dunes area are engaged in running a camel safari business for the tourists who visit and offer you camelback rides around the heaps and trenches of the vast stretches of sand deep inside the heart of the desert. These trips let you experience the true wilderness of the open desert and take in the actual beauty of it.

For one-hour sunset ride into the desert, the usual charge is INR 300 per head approximately, but it varies according to the camel owners. However, you need to be aware of dishonesty and stay away from extravagant rates for a camel ride.

2. Camping in the Dunes - The local people also offer you accommodations for an overnight trip in comfortable mud cottages and Swiss tents whichever you choose along with meal service because there is no other place in the middle of the desert for obvious reasons. They serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian authentic Rajasthani cuisine, true to its rich and spicy taste matching the overall ambience of the place. The lodging costs around INR 800-1000 per person, but it can vary depending on the services you choose or standard of quality.

3. Evening Festivities - After sunset, there is nothing much to do in a desert region. So to brighten up the days, the local artists perform the very famous, traditional Rajasthani folk music and dances in the camping sites to entertain the villagers and tourists. The entrancing music performances are often accompanied by different rustic instruments vogue in folk music. The dance performances include the renowned folk forms like Kalbelia dance, Fire dance and Bhawai dance where the dancers perform with a tower of pitchers of their head.

4. Bonfire and Stargazing - The campsites and its ethereal ambience call for the most exquisite experiences like bonfire and stargazing. Lighting up dry wood to make a big fire and sitting around the bonfire with strangers and getting to hear their stories along with enjoying the dance and music have a very mystic appeal to itself. In the night when all the lights and frolic die out, there is ample opportunity to enjoy the starlit night sky in the open air of the desert a refreshing change from our claustrophobic cityscapes.

5. Photography - For those interested in subtle and nuanced photography of nature, the desert at the Sam Sand Dunes offers an unobstructed and clear view of the desert which makes for picture-perfect frames. You can capture the sunrise and sunset in all its beauty. There is not much to see and click around, but the beauty of the place itself is quite enough to intrigue the photographer in you. Other than that, the night time festivals are there to capture the tradition of the state.

The Rajasthan Tourism Department organises the Desert Festival in the dunes region in February for 3 days every year. The festivities include camel race, puppet shows, quirky competitions like the best moustache, turban tying and Mr Desert and the quintessential performance of folk dance and song. Other than the fun and cultural events, there are kiosks for souvenirs and snacks to spend your time in between games or performances. In this festival, you get to completely embrace the true essence of Rajasthan and the most colourful culture which has maintained its undying spirit even amidst all the struggle and scarcity.

The best time of the day to visit is either during the sunrise, from 4:00 AM - 6:00 AM, or during the sunset, from 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM, depending on the time of the year. During the dawn and dusk, the heat of the direct sun rays is not there, and the rising or setting sun also sets up the perfect backdrop for a memorable trip.

There are various locals and operators offering activity and stay packages at Sam Sand Dunes. While here, you can stay at any one of the desert tents and experience the music and dance of the city of Rajasthan. The locals and the operators together stage performances around the campfires. You can also enjoy traditional cuisine of Rajasthan as you partake in the lunch and dinner options that are a part of Sam Sand Dunes Packages.

Sam Sand Dunes are around 40-45 kilometres from the city of Jaisalmer; so you can hire a car from the city to the campsite. The road is safe and very well maintained, under the supervision of Indian Army. The sunset point can be reached taking a camel ride or jeep - located 20-25 minutes from the main campsite.

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