Rajasthan Camel Safari
Traveling by Camel was once the norm in Rajasthan. Roads and railroads connecting Jaisalmer to the rest of Rajasthan were built 'recently'; many older Rajasthani's remember a life without electricity, roads, and trains. If you wanted to travel from Jaisalmer to Jodphur, an 8-day camel ride was the quickest way to go only 60 years ago (currently 8 hours by bus).
Nowadays, however, multi-day camel safaris are primarily for the tourists, and a massive industry has been built up around them. With this has come high-pressure tactics and shoddy operators. An amazing, authentic camel safari is possible, but tourists should spend time researching guides, companies, and/or routes. Your best bet is to talk to other tourists who have recently completed a camel safari, and ask their advice.
Camel safaris are often loved or hated. Some people stay an extra day or two in the desert after already being out for 4 days, others find the camel foul-smelling and excruciatingly painful to ride. For those considering a 4-5 day trek, a two-hour ride may answer many questions.
The highlights of a camel safari include amazing desert scenery, the experience (however jarring) of riding a camel, Dal and Chapati cooked over an open fire, incredible star-gazing (no ambient light and no pollution), and a flavor of a different world.
Most of the preparation is in picking the length of safari (ranges from 4 hours to 5 days), the tour operator, and the city to start from (some people feel that smaller cities offer less touristy experiences).
Generally, the tour operator arranges transportation, and the Camel Driver chooses your itinerary. Be clear from the beginning, before you pay, if the trip involves stops in handicraft stores.
Because of the importance of tourism upon Rajasthan's economy, tourists are fairly safe on a camel safari in terms of physical safety. Sufficient bottled water, sunscreen, a hat, a flashlight, and warm clothes for the cold night air are important. Solo female travelers should exercise caution when selecting a camel driver/guide, but otherwise should be safe.
If you have problems, or feel you have been cheated, be firm with the tour operator, and if necessary threaten going to the police/tourist off, and be willing to actually go. Many tourist offices, such as Jaisalmer's, make efforts to keep tourists safe and happy.