Did You Check That Camel's License?
Good news: Camel safaris have entered the 21st century.
The Times of India reported the other day that officials in Jaisalmer, in India's Rajasthan, are implementing a user-friendly way of booking one of the popular, days-long camel safaris in the neighboring Thar Desert: pre-paying beforehand, the same way you would pre-pay for a taxi at a train station.
Might it be because it makes life more convenient for tourists? Yes, if "convenient" means not worrying that you'll get robbed by your guide or left in the desert to fend for yourself. Officials had received a litany of complaints about guides: sometimes just demanding more money once tourists were deep into the Sam dunes; offering to take tourists to the border of Pakistan (for more money, of course) and then leading them instead to a forest department fence; and, in one case, mere abandonment, which apparently happened to an aide to the Bangladeshi prime minister.
The new rules—whereby safari patrons will carry identifying tokens, presumably to protect them from being ditched—will also crack down on unlicensed food vendors on the safari routes, as well as "unlicensed" camels. We're glad to hear it—though we must admit, Unlicensed Camels of the Thar Desert would have made a great reality show.