Crossing the Thar Desert Rajasthan, India IndiaAn Authentic Camel Caravan Exploring the Great Indian Desert… A tour of India’s Golden Triangle November 27- December 26, 2011
The Expedition Goals & ChallengeThe AdventureHere is an adventure with the ‘bare basics” and an experience as original and authentic as it gets. Led by Canadianadventurer, Priyantha Amarasinghe and renowned Indian explorer, Karan Singh Rathore, a camel caravan willspend 21 days trekking an average of 30km a day covering more than 600 km of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan India(also known as the Great Indian Desert), the 7th largest in the world. The expedition route take you from thenorthern town of Bikaner to Barmer in the south and we will be using the only traditional method of deserttransportation known to the local Rajasthanis: the Indian Bikaneri Camel (a breed of choice in the Thar Desert) and2-wheel carts mounted on camels with built-in tents designed on the concept of legendary Conestoga wagons ofthe American West. Carts will be used to carry expedition logistics, food and water during the day and convertedas sleeping quarters in the night.The ChallengeThere will be no backup vehicles, no mobile phones, no computers, and no modern technology to give us anycomfort or safety net. It would be just us and the camels riding into the desert, ready to face whatever challengesnature throws at us. And, we will be totally self-dependent.Sand storms, merciless desert heat, blizzards, changing extreme temperatures, long hours of walking and ridingcamels, surviving with the local food and nomadic style living, an opportunity to interact with indigenous people ofRajasthan – All guaranteed!Safety is certain and the satisfaction of achieving a personal milestone, a chance to test your own physicalboundaries and take home a lifetime of memories - priceless!Why Rajasthan & the Thar?The state of Rajasthan is famous all over the world for its beautiful Forts & Palaces, and it is the most populartourist destination in India. It attracts millions of visitors many of whom visit year after year drawn to thiswonderful land of romance and valor, and its hospitable people. Dominating Rajasthan is the ‘Thar Desert’, whichencompasses the entire Western half of the state, and stretches from the Punjab in the North to Gujarat in theSouth.Most visitors to the Thar avoid entering into the heart of this amazing landscape. The Thar is indeed a geo-physicalexpanse. This is an ancient land of the hardy people. Unlike its counterparts in Arabia and the Sahara, the Thar ispopulated, with numerous villages dotting its sands. The villagers try to cultivate this land, which has very littleirrigation facilities, and crops are almost wholly dependent on the sparse rains. Others graze their herds of sheep,goats and camels moving from place to place depending on the grazing available. Despite the hardships the peopleare friendly and hospitable and guests are revered. The trip is all about the experience of connecting with therugged nature “as is” and interacting with the indigenous people, who have proudly continued their traditionalway of life notwithstanding the global changes and the rapid modernization.The InspirationOur aim is to inspire adventure-loving individuals to taste and succeed in adventure. We would also like toencourage our youth to take on the challenges of exploring the world outside their backyard and learn about thecommunities that face a continuous struggle for survival under the extremely harsh and hostile environments. Wewill produce a documentary film depicting the entire experience with a focus on the lives of indigenous people.The Team Leaders
The Team, Charity & Community Support Team Leaders Priyantha Amarasinghe (Canada) Expedition Leader & Photographer Priyantha Amarasinghe, 49, is an avid overlander, an explorer who from very early in his life started pursuing mountaineering and overland adventures as his passion. He has spent a considerable amount of time exploring over 100 countries as a traveler and tour leader, some places as remote as the Russian Siberia, the Gobi in Mongolia, the rain forests of Central Africa and the sands of the unforgiving Arabian Desert. Priyantha is a regular visitor to India and Rajasthan leading a number of reconnaissance trips to Thar among other Indian adventures. For 18 years of his life, he experienced life in the desert in depth when he lived in the Arabian Gulfsheikhdoms of UAE and Oman. Since then he has developed an interest in travelling with the Bedouins andnomadic people, and to learn about their ever fading culture and traditions. Karan Singh Rathore(India) Lead Guide & Logistics Manager For Karan Singh Rathore, 45, its the Thar Desert that poses the ultimate challenge in discovery and exploration. He has led a privileged life, living on a farm in Bikaner, the desert-city of Rajasthan where his love for the outdoors became a life-long passion. Karan often ventures out into the Thar Desert on foot, pushing the boundaries of his endurance. Karan is an expert organizer of desert expeditions for those who love the silent spectacle unfolding in the sea of sands. "I have always been drawn to the desert and the village communities that dot the vast expanse of Thar. During our treks we traverse desert-areas that are not frequented by visitors "he says. He haslong been witness to the lives of desert communities and familiar with their customs and traditions. "We comeacross such warm and hospitable people who live by the oasis and are innately aware on how to utilize naturesresources. There is so much we can learn from them," he says. Its this challenge of the unknown and theuncharted territory that drives him today to share the experiences with fellow adventurers.Join our teamThe expedition is open to anyone with an interest in exploring the unknown; This is an exploratory expedition, weseek physically fit and open-minded individuals, who can tolerate the cultural barrier among other surprises. And,you must be willing to leave the comforts at home, roll up your sleeves, get hands dirty day in and day out for 21days. Do you have what it takes to survive the unforgiving environments, respect the nature’s gifts and leave notraces behind? If the answer is yes, then you fit the bill and you must join us on this challenging and life changingadventure. The participation limited to maximum of 10 adventurers.Charity & Community SupportFor many years, our team leaders Priyantha and Karan have been supporting the numerous NGO’s and grassrootslevel charities that help the children in rural Rajasthan. They remain passionate about their contributions towardsthe children’s health and nutrition, improving basic facilities at schools, and programs for the protection ofchildren from exploitation. It is their belief that every Rajasthani child, no matter how remote they live, should begiven access to education. The adventure itineraries they design in Rajasthan always include this unique element,where they plan to spend a few days in a desert hamlet, meet the village elders and get to work in a local welfarecenter or a school by way of lending a hand in renovation, adding a new facility or supply furniture. We will onceagain continue our tradition through this expedition. We hope that we can motivate our team members to supportthis outstanding work and help improve the lives of young Rajasthani’s fighting for a descent education and a fairchance at life. (All expenses related to this charitable part of the expedition are included in your price.)
The Trip Overview & ItineraryOverviewThe aim of this expedition is to traverse the North South axis of the Thar desert emulating the caravans of thebygone days without the aid of modern technology as much as possible. This journey will take us through villages,fields and stretches of desert never normally visited by foreigners. The distance will be covered in two stretchesdaily. A morning stretch, followed by a break for lunch, and an afternoon stretch to our camp for the night. Camp ispitched before sunset every evening. We intend to replicate as far as possible the old days of caravan camps withlight at night provided by hurricane lamps.Most of the lands we traverse through belong to a village in the vicinity. As a result our caravan is bound to attracta lot of attention especially when passing through habitation. Our lunch stops, which are usually close to a villagebecause of the need for shade, generally attract inquisitive people, especially children. The desert also abounds inwildlife including Antelope, reptiles and insects, many of which are poisonous but in hibernation during winter.The day temperatures are hot in the mid thirties, while night temperatures can be cold, down to single digits.Provisions – We will carry all dry rations from the very first day. This includes wheat flour, rice, spices, dehydratedvegetables, powdered milk, tea, coffee, etc. Fresh vegetables, meat, bread and perishable food will be procured ifand when available en route. Depending on what is available, some meals may be elaborate while at times verybasic. A separate cart will carry grain and food for the camels.Accommodation – Two members will share a covered camel cart and they will be responsible for the upkeep ofthe cart, which will serve as their sleeping quarters at night as well as carry their beddings and baggage during theday. The approximate size of the cart is 6 feet by 8 feet. Members will be well advised not to carry too muchpersonal baggage. For sleeping a cotton mattress, pillow, and a woolen blanket is provided.Water – The Thar is densely populated, and we will be passing at least one village every day and water will bepicked up along the way. A cart will carry a 500-litre water tank, which will be filled at every opportunity. Camelswill drink at the village troughs. All members will be provided with a canvas water bag that will serve as theirpersonal water bottle. This can be hung from their cart while on the move. Every evening once at camp, eachmember will be allotted a bucket of water for bathing as well as washing any clothes. A bath tent will be set up atcamp. As the people here are very conservative, the women must bathe indoors. The water in the villages is fromdeep bore wells and is good to drink, though brackish in some areas. Members are advised to carry waterpurification pills.Camels & the Crew – A support crew of about 6 local men will accompany us. Their job is to give us a hand incooking as well as setting up camp every night, fill water and other chores. Each expedition member will havehis/her dedicated camel for riding with a camel handler, who is usually its owner, and looks after its welfare.Itinerary Nov 27: Arrive New Delhi. Transfer to hotel Nov 28: Morning New & Old Delhi tour. By road to Agra.Nov 29: Visit Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Agra- Jaipur by road via Fatehpur Sikri. Nov 30: Jaipur Full day touring incl.Amber Fort Dec 1: Jaipur – Bikaner Dec 2 - 22: Thar Desert Expedition from Bikaner to Barmer Dec 23: Expeditionends in Barmer and transfer to your hotel in Jodhpur Dec 24: Sightseeing in Jodhpur and proceed to Udaipur.Celebrate your achievement & Christmas Eve dinner Dec 25: Sightseeing in Udaipur Dec 26: Udaipur-Delhi –home.
The Trip Costs, Inclusions & EssentialsExpedition Price – 30 DaysGroup size 6-9 persons: CA$5895 per personGroup size 10-12 persons: CA$5350 per personInclusions• Domestic flight from Udaipur to Delhi • All landtransportation by air-conditioned vehicle •Accommodation at heritage hotels (Haveli’s andmaharaja homes) with daily breakfast and dinner •Guided sightseeing in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpurand Udaipur including admissions • Thar DesertExpedition including all meals, your personalcamel, cameleers, local logistic crew, sleepingaccommodation in 2-person tented camel carts •Emergency first aid for group use • Services of anexperienced lead guide and Expedition leader •Your personal charitable donation/volunteeractivity in the desert villageIndia’s iconic landmarks includedOn the pre and post expedition itinerary, see the world wonders incl. the Taj Mahal in Agra, the mogul treasures inDelhi and Fatehpur Sikri, the “Pink city” of Jaipur and the grandeur of the lavish maharajah palaces in Jodhpur andUdaipur and much much more. We include comprehensive guided touring in India’s famous Golden Triangle.Exclusions• International flights from Canada to New Delhi (Our own Airline division, Airliners offer attractive airfares toIndia) • Meals not specified under inclusions • India visa fees • Airport taxes/fees • Mandatory trip cancellation,medical & emergency evacuation insurance (Ask for the details of our special insurance package exclusive for thistrip with TIC insurance, Canada), tips and gratuities for local crew, personal first-aid kit and any personal items.Health Conditions, Indemnity & Emergency InsuranceAll accepted participants will be required to sign an indemnity bond prior to the departure. A detailed medicalquestionnaire will be provided at the time of registration and this must be completed and signed by your personalphysician, prior to the acceptance of this expedition. If you are not purchasing insurance cover through ATOURZyou must bring a valid copy of the insurance policy with you along with 24/7 international assistance telephonenumber for any emergency assistance. Your expedition leader will ask for a copy of this prior to start of the trip.What you need to bring?A flash light or headlamp with spare batteries, your personal first aid kit and medications, comfortableshoes/sandals suitable for walking long distances in the thick sand, gravel paths and dusty villages, plenty ofsunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, warm fleece jacket/sweater and thick socks to cover feet as nights in the desert canbe cold, a couple of light weight cotton clothing for day time wear to last 3 weeks in the desert, water purificationtablets, your camera with plenty of spare batteries and memory cards and souvenirs for children. Cover photo: Benny Lin. Inside photos; Priyantha Amarasinghe ATOURZ is the tour operator arm of For Bookings & inquiries, contact your Expedition Leader Airliners, one of Canada’s leading travel consolidators since 1996. ATOURZ Priyantha Amarasinghe, CTM Atourz, 1220 Ellesmere Road, Suite - 1 Toronto, ON M1P 2X5 specializes in unique escorted adventure tours, special interest and niche groups & 1 877 727 6387 | 416 485 6387 Ext 6306 individual travel services to all of the seven E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.atourz.ca continents of the world.