OutThere Adventurers

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After many years travelling around in high mountains, amidst snow capped peaks, bathing in mountain springs and sleeping under the stars in lush green valleys, OutThere Adventurers is now venturing into the desert sands of the Thar. And we are giving up motorised forms of transports and travelling by ship - the ship of the desert.

The plan is to travel through the folds of the dunes that dot the landscape of the incredible desert of western India. But we are not planning to wander away into the loose, shifting sands and the rolling dunes of the desert, we are leaving that for the next trip. This time around, we have a fairly fixed route in mind, a destination to head towards and a tentative schedule to do it in. A self-sufficient and completely self-contained expedition, we will however, be living almost like the proverbial desert rats.

And this is your opportunity to become the famed rodent, surviving in the harshest conditions. Aptly, this first-of-its-kind adventure from OutThere Adventurers is called The Desert Rats.

You have probably been an adventurer having either rafted down some white waters or ridden your motorcycle or trekked up and down the mountain or maybe even jumped the bungy. But have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit on the back of a camel and consciously head off into the wilderness? If you been to Rajasthan you might have undertaken the customary “camel safari”, but this Expedition being undertaken by The Desert Rats is way beyond anything you might have ever experienced, or imagined.

Do you want to be a desert rat? If you do, this is your lucky day.

The Elements
We are after all headed right into the heart of the desert. And deserts are renowned for their extremes of temperature. The scorching sun through the day will ensure that we flirt on the fringe of heatstroke and dehydration through the day. And as the sun set over the horizon, the chill sets in. It is not surprising to find differences in the day and night temperatures to be twenty or thirty degree Celsius, making the comfort of a sleeping bag a very pleasant prospect. The temperature during the day is likely to be in the thirties while at night it can plunge to two or three degree Celsius. The very thought of the coming day and the return of the scorching sun makes one pray for a long night. While you are in summer clothes in the day, the jackets are out at night.

The ‘survival’ water ration is five liters per person per day. If you want to live a life of luxury in the middle of the unrelenting desert, you should be drinking upwards of 15 liters a day. But then, all drinking water has to be carried for the duration of the trip and all that will be available is a little more than survival quantity. Dehydration is a possibility, so ensure that you drink water but drink it conservatively.

The Support
This is going to be a completely self-contained Expedition. Each member will be on one camel. There will be ‘support’ camels carrying the luggage, food, water, camping gear, etc. And a few extra camels just in case a particular camel decides that enough is enough and s/he does not want to travel anymore. It has been known to happen.

We will be camping along the way, sleeping in tents, three persons to a tent. A toilet tent provides the privacy for morning duties. Water is very scarce in the desert and we will be carrying just about enough for drinking, so there will not be any water to wash away the dirt at the end of a tiring day.

The schedule and the route
The Desert Rats team will comprise 10 individuals. The team will assemble in New Delhi and then take an overnight train to Jaisalmer. The first two days will be spent visiting the sights and sounds of Jaisalmer and getting used to the camels for the adventure ahead. The expedition into the desert will commence from Sam on the morning of the third day. The first couple of days are expected to be the most taxing when the adventurers start getting used to riding a camel for extended durations.

Our steeds, the ships of the deserts, are living beings and they too get tired. On an average a camel is not expected to walk for more than 25 to 30 km a day on deep sand and dunes. More than the distance, they should not be taxed beyond five or six hours a day.

Our daily schedule will begin just before sunrise. After an early breakfast, we break camp and hit the ‘road’ by seven in the morning. By lunch time, we pitch tent and enjoy the many wonders of the desert for the rest of the day. As night falls, and if there are fallen branches and twigs available, we can party around the campfire. If we are lucky, our camel drivers will double up as bards and we can join in as they sing typically Rajasthani folk songs. After an early dinner, we retire to our tents and await the adventures of the next day.

We will also try and camp close to villages to get a first hand feel of what a typical village life is all about in the deep desert.
There are some incredible sights and sounds that we will be witness to during the journey, places steeped in history, abounding in man-made and natural wonders. We will also be riding through the Desert National Park. The total distance we hope to cover is about 300km. Depending on how we are doing for time, how the crew is feeling, the permit situation for visits to the border, etc the route might get modified as we go along.

Incidentally, we expect to be on the dunes for five to six days.

Some attractions on the way
The two big towns on our route are Jaisalmer and Barmer while the sand dunes at Sam are a must-see. The golden hued fort in Jaisalmer is a sentinel to the bleak desertscape from its high perch on the hill, housing an entire township within its ramparts. It has an enchanting cobweb of narrow lanes dotted with some lovely havelis, three beautifully sculptured Jain temples dating between the 12th and 15th century AD and five interconnected palaces. The Patwon-ki-Haweli is the most elaborate and magnificent of all temples in Jaisalmer. It has exquisitely carved pillars and extensive corridors and chambers. One of the apartments of this five storey haveli is painted with beautiful murals.

Bada Bagh is a fertile oasis on the bank of an artificial lake. Dense trees and royal cenotaphs, with beautifully carved ceilings and equestrian statues of the former rulers surround it.

The ripples on the wind-caressed Sam sand dunes, that create an enchanting mirage, are a sure delight for trigger-happy photographers. At a distance of 16km from Jaisalmer, lies the ancient capital of Jaisalmer, Lodurva. An important pilgrim spot of the Jain community with some magnificent Jain temples, the Toran or the ornate arches at the main entrance of the temples and its splendid carvings are noteworthy. A Kalpataru or a divine tree within is the main attraction.

Salim Singh-ki-Haweli is an extraordinary mansion in yellow stone covered with intricate carvings and has an elaborate projecting balcony on the top storey. At a distance of 18km from Jaisalmer, Mool Sagar is a pleasant shady grove and a perfect picnic spot.

At a distance of 17km from Jaisalmer, lying on the Barmer Road, the Wood Fossil Park takes you back to the Jurassic period, when the whole Thar region lay under the sea. It has a 180 million year old fossils, the geological landmarks and relics of the Thar. Barmer, comprising small villages, offers the variety of the desert and is popular because of its handicrafts.
Munaba is 119km away from Barmer and on the Pakistan border. Khuri, 40km southwest of Jaisalmer, again on the border of Pakistan, is famous for its waves of golden  and. The Jodha Rajputs live here and even today you can see the stamp of traditional Rajput culture in them.

The crew
This Expedition is for 10 adventurers. This is a unique Expedition and very different from what has been undertaken in the desert in the past. It is going to be exciting, strenuous, tough and the memories will last a lifetime. So, if you are late in registering for it, you might find yourself left out since all the camels might already have been booked by other more keen adventurers who want to join in this incredible journey. So hurry in your confirmation.

Things to carry
In the city, heat makes us want to wear the least possible clothes. Contrary to life in the city, travelling through the desert can be extremely taxing due to the lack of moisture in the air. One does not visibly sweat and that makes dehydration lurk just around the corner and creep up when you least expect it.

You have to dress in layers so that the air trapped between layers keeps you relatively comfortable. A wide brimmed sun hat is a survival necessity. A thin but big towel is essential to cover your head and face from the winds that bring with it tiny particles of sand that sting when they hit exposed skin. Good boots with ankle support are a very good idea. Lots of sun screen lotion will keep sunburn at bay.

How to book
If this document has interested you in becoming a member of The Desert Rats and you want to join in this incredible, spectacular and awesome OutThere Adventurers Expedition, book yourself now. Once we hear from you, we will let you know all other relevant details like things to carry, how to prepare and the costs.

Remember, the ships of the desert are waiting for The Desert Rats.