Wilderness Camp

Jodhpur, India Book from

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
Luxury tents pitched deep in the Thar desert an hour from Jodphur: this is escapism at its very best
The charming Singh family, whose ancestral home is Rohet Garh, are also hosts of this luxurious camp 18km away. Seven Swiss cottage-style tents sit behind sandstone ramparts, deep in the remote Thar Desert. With stunning sunrises, mesmerising sunsets and starry night skies, life in this wilderness is spectacularly elemental - and utterly silent but for the wildlife.

But don't imagine that this is some kind of ascetic retreat. The 7 tents are rather luxurious - more like mini-marquees really - with huge comfortable beds, modern bathrooms, smart furniture and gorgeous rugs that wouldn't be out of place in a Rajasthani palace. Beside a sundowner deck, there are attractive living and dining areas made from traditional thatch and plaster and adorned with scarlet cushions, along with candles for evenings. As for excursions, the horse, jeep and camel safaris into the desert and tribal areas are fabulous. This is the ideal place for those who've seen the obvious Rajasthani sights and want to experience the magic of the desert.

Highs

  • It's truly peaceful - a rare delight in bustling Rajasthan!
  • The comfortable and spacious tents are stylish yet true to their setting
  • It's very good value considering the all-inclusive nature
  • There's wonderful riding: the Rohet family's Marwari horses are said to be the best in Rajasthan, and you gallop through glorious scenery
  • The welcoming staff provide excellent service
  • It's a good alternative to the Jaisalmer desert, if you're pushed for time

Lows

  • Don't expect a swimming pool, air conditioning or other hotel-type facilities (although there is electricity and hot water)
  • Although the setting is very romantic, the overall vibe is quite communal - you might feel anti-social if you didn't mingle
  • The wildlife provides early morning wake-up calls - bring earplugs!
  • Compared to other hotels in Rajasthan the food was disappointing

Best time to go

From October to early April it's warm and dry. May to the end of September is the monsoon season in Rajasthan, but rainfall in the desert is very low. It can get chilly at night at any time of year.

Our top tips

Pack insect repellent, ear plugs, sturdy shoes for walking/riding, lots of suncream and a good book to relax with.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Camp
  • 7 tents
  • All meals included
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The 7 tents are made of heavy-duty cream linen, and are pitched in a row above the sandstone ramparts, separated from one another by little walls. All face out over the wilderness, and the awning of each contains 2 thickly cushioned deckchairs; a great place to snuggle up and watch the sun rise.

Inside, they're surprisingly roomy and regal, with smart polished teak furniture and striped jute rugs. Marigold block-printed tent linings billow above your head, and white curtains are draped across one end. The beds are big and comfy, decked out with white cotton and marigold duvet covers, and these can be made up as twins or a double. In one corner there's a writing desk (for this is a truly inspirational setting!); in another, teak-wood chairs with thick cream cushions. The large windows have flaps to allow light and fresh air through, and are covered in heavy insect netting.

What's really lovely though, are all the thoughtful details you gradually notice. Royal blue dressing gowns are folded into neat squares, old-fashioned lanterns adorn the walls, and there's plenty of space to store and hang luggage. While you're at dinner, a nifty turndown service takes place, and you return to a lantern-lit glow.

The bathroom is very impressive, too. Forget roughing it because you're camping - the toilet flushes, the walls and floor are tiled, and the thick towels are snowy white. There's a walk-in shower with solar-powered hot water and the large sink is decked out with a range of bespoke Rohet toiletries (all the usuals, plus a loofah and dental kit). Our only complaint would be that the shower head is fixed at shoulder level - annoying if you want to wash your hair.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries

Eating

The dining room is open-sided with a thatched roof and you can sit in small or large groups to eat; whichever you prefer. We started talking to other guests over aperitifs in the adjacent lounge and asked for our dining tables to be pushed together; this seemed to be a popular request. Tables are attractively laid with scarlet and yellow linens, and china and glasswear embossed with the Rohet family crest and motto: 'Life is to give, not to take'.

Food-wise, meals were hearty rather than haute cuisine. Some things were very good, others disappointingly bland in a country where spice is the variety of life. When we arrived, mid afternoon, we were served high tea on the sun deck - tea, coffee, little sandwiches and cakes. Dinner kicked off with vegetable soup and this was followed by a curry buffet - rice, naan, cauliflower curry, a rather nondescript chicken dish, sag aloo with paneer cheese and some barbecued chicken. There was also a pasta dish.

Breakfast the next day was a hot and cold buffet. Cooked options included Bombay potatoes (delicious), porridge or eggs, bacon and beans (all rather unappetising). Yoghurts, fresh papaya and other fruit and cereals were all on offer, and once we sat down the chef whipped up some tasty pude (little Indian pancakes), which we ate with marmalade and honey. Juice was of the carton variety.

Staff can easily arrange a picnic expedition during the day to a local beauty spot.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Horse or camel rides are a must; many rate these expeditions as the highlight of their stay in the desert, indeed in Rajasthan. The family claims - with good reason - that their Marwari horses are the best in Rajasthan. A perfect day's ride is the 18km to (or from) Rohet Garh, with colourful villages and a picnic lunch en route

  • However if, like us, you fear becoming saddle sore, opt for the Jeep safari instead. This 2-hour trip takes you to see herds of black buck antelope and wild camels, and you'll also visit local Bishnoi villages. The Bishnois are an ancient Rajasthani tribe, who worship nature in all its manifestations: women suckle motherless deer, die to save trees and go hungry to provide food for animals. At one of the villages you may be invited to partake in an opium tea ceremony with the village elders - a real honour

  • Sit on the sundowner deck and watch animals come to drink at the waterhole - look out for chinkara (Indian gazelle), Demoiselle cranes, peacocks and desert foxes

  • Spend an afternoon at Rohet Garh, where you can have Ayurvedic treatments in the spa, or laze by the gorgeous swimming pool

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Safaris
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wildlife

Kids

Children are welcome, but older kids would be better suited to the wide open spaces and the adventure of the desert. It's ideal if they're into riding horses and camels. You'll need to bring a travel cot for babies.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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