An Animal Affair- The New Indian Express

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Express News Service

When all the havelis, palaces and modern five-star properties have been explored, what next can the discerning traveller look for? An exclusive luxury camping experience at Dera Amer near Jaipur, where the only fellow guests are an in-house crew of rescued animals.

A troupe consisting of two female Asian elephants Laxmi and Rangmala, a camel named Lucky and three Indian street dogs adopted from the city of Jaipur, live on the estate. Guests can bathe, walk alongside, feed and keep the company of the elephants—gentle giants rescued from captivity where they were born and bred, leaving them unprepared for release in the wild. “We are also trying to adopt abandoned donkeys from the city. The camp is meant to be a safe place for animals and people interacting with them, without feeling exploited, on either side,” explains Udaijit Singh, the owner of the property.

Located an hour’s drive from the bustling city of Jaipur, this forest land- -turned-wilderness camp has plenty to offer couples and families alike. Founded by Singh on his family’s private land in 2004, this property allows patrons the option to choose from six ‘safari-style tents’, decked out with creature comforts. Alternatively, one may go the rustic route by choosing pre-assembled hiking tents kitted with bedding, linen and a functional bathroom a stone’s throw away. Outdoor dining experiences, excursions on foot, jeep or camel to Saluwar forest and the local village occupied by the Meena tribal community, and the chance to observe the local wildlife through nearby Jhalana Leopard Reserve are some of the attractions of Dera Amer.

The upkeep and care of animals—the elephants eat at least 10 percent of their body weight daily and need dedicated Mahouts—is an expensive proposition. A stay at Dera Amer, therefore, comes with a higher price tag than one would expect for a rustic camping experience, with earnings going towards the care of the animals, upkeep of the Aravalli jungle and the local community. Further, travellers who thrive on lengthy itineraries will not find much to do at the property beyond two-three days.

Largely attracting business through word of mouth, social media and select travel agents, Dera Amer has a clear mandate—not to become a factory with busloads of tourists. “The idea is to get like-minded animal lovers and children to the camp, and make them spend time with our animals at our camp in an authentic, ethical manner, while giving them an exclusive experience with tailor made meals of fresh produce grown on our farm. The experience is a wholesome take on country living and peaceful coexistence with one’s environment,” says Singh.

Keep in mind
Where: Dera Amer Wilderness Camp, Rajasthan
How to Book: www.deraamer.com
Distance from Jaipur: 25 km via NH248
Social Media: @deraamercamp
Local Attractions: Elephant bathing and walking, candlelit dinners, village walks, leopard safaris at nearby Jhalana Leopard Reserve
 



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