A unique and special tented camp set up in a very pretty patch of several hundred hectares of wilderness in the wooded Aravalli Hills, just a short drive out from Jaipur. Dera Amer was established by a passionate ‘hathi’ (elephant lover), and offers guests the unique experience of spending time with an elephant for 24 hours or more, in one of 6 fabulously comfortable tents (split into 2 exclusive camp sites); or just a lovely breakfast, lunch or dinner with a few hours with an elephant.
It is home to and geared entirely around spending time with elephants – ‘the family’ – and was set up originally to provide a home to stressed, abandoned or sick elephants and camels who have been cast out, or rescued from the rigours of life in the city.
The tented camp comprises 2 camps just a short walk from each other, one with 2 tents and one with 4 tents. Each is totally private, separately run and staffed and with its own facilities. Guests staying here have exclusivity of either camp, even if on their own. Each tent is a delight and beautifully furnished with ‘Campaign’ furniture and hugely comfortable beds. They also have a verandahs and state of the art attached bathrooms.
Plenty of piping hot water and electricity make them warm and cosy and they are well spread out to ensure privacy. Everything has been thought of here and it’s a unique experience, spending a night under canvas then waking to breakfast with an elephant outside your tent, under the shade of a tree and with your feet in the sand. Dining at night, al fresco under a starclad sky and surrounded by candles / lanterns is a truly special moment. Solar powered and with their own organic farm nearby, most produce is locally grown and sourced and meals here are a feast of freshness. Connecting, sandy pathways lead from one site to the other and all meet at the very pretty main pavilion and huge lawn, where guests may also spend time and where the elephants and camels spend time in the shade during the heat of the day.
The Pavilion, overlooking beautiful lawns and the elephant stables is the perfect lunch spot for ‘glampers’ and is also one of the venues for those coming only to eat here (always exclusive – either one family but never more than 5 couples and all catered independently) and it’s like a calm oasis after the hustle and bustle of Jaipur. Guests may also have private meals laid on out in the wilderness – deeply romantic, special and memorable!
Aside from enjoying the calm and comfort of the camp, guests staying here or simply enjoying a meal here can get deeply involved with elephant life as they organize ‘rhythm with the elephant’ in the middle of the woodland scrub, neighbouring an old fortified temple. Here one interacts with the resident elephants in their natural habitat - Rangmala / Laxmi and the others rescued from city life! Spend time feeding them, washing and scrubbing them - all in privacy and exclusivity.
Correctly against the use of howdahs (elephant saddles) on pachyderms, guests have the fabulous opportunity to stroll around in the wilderness with them, listening to their ‘chat’ and rhythm, getting to know one of these incredible, memorable, extraordinary animals. Walk with a local villager through village hutments, fields and ancient monuments in the jungle - the walk of a lifetime.
Dera Amer puts the elephants first and it’s all about them! Their lives and routines are not changed for the good of the guests and they do exactly what they want, wandering around the camp and its environs in what is as close to their natural environment as it can be. A totally non-commercial venture, it’s magical to simply ‘live’ amongst these magnificent beasts as they go about their daily business.
Laxmi (46 years old)
Originally performing at a circus in Mathura, UP, Laxmi was adopted from Amer Fort after her mahout passed away in 2006. Several hands taller than her dearest friend Rangmala, she really is a gentle giant, but certainly the more intelligent of the two. Our resident chatterbox, give her a wave and she’ll almost certainly trumpet you a friendly “Hello!” back. Although catch her during the afternoon hours and she’s more likely to be having a siesta in the shade.
Rangmala (39 years old)
Also adopted from Amer Fort, Rangmala joined the camp a little later in 2009, though she and Laxmi have been inseparable ever since. Originally a performing elephant in Delhi, she’s not really a morning person and the only way to get Rangmala out of bed is with a long, cool shower: when she is in her element! Spraying, splashing, rolling, and cavorting, you will seldom see such an enormous animal quite so animated. The more playful of the two, Rangmala will be your friend for life after a banana (or ten)!
Anarkali (50 years old)
Also brought to Jaipur from the Mathura circus, Anarkali was adopted in 2018 after spending years carrying tourists up and down the Amer fort, has adjusted brilliantly at the camp, considering she hated any four-legged animals before she arrived! She seems to be giving stiff competition to Rangmala as best friend to Laxmi and is turning out to be calmer and less skittish after spending a year at the camp. The gentlest with babies, the 50-year-old gentle giant is very particular about her food, and prefers to peel her oranges before eating them!
At Dera Amer they have a commitment to their animals, their workforce, the local environment and its community. Promoting responsible tourism they operate with an eco-sensitive mindset. From organic farming practices to social responsibilities, Dera Amer is resolute in creating a positive impact on the environment around them. The very essence of Dera Amer – their elephants and camels are adopted from Amber Fort, and rescued from a life of hard labour. The only time a guest will ever see a restraint on Laxmi or Rangmala, their resident elephants, is during a visit from the vet! Otherwise they live in harmony at the camp accompanied by their mahout.
Maintained by local villagers and camp staff, Dera Amer’s expanding vegetable plot is entirely organic. Free from pesticides and harvested using traditional farming techniques and recycled rainwater. They call them ‘good karma’ greens.
Using two solar powered water pumps they are able to harness enough natural basin water to keep their lawns green and their vegetables growing. Responsible water consumption is of the utmost importance in the desert state of Rajasthan, and for that reason Dera Amer does not have a swimming pool.
The central lawn and pavilion at Dera Amer provide the most perfect, large venue for a grand party with easy access to all kinds of entertainment from Jaipur. The whole place can be beautifully decorated and is wonderful for large lunches, dinners and parties. It would be sensible to take over the tents as well, a) to save, as host, travelling after the party and b) to avoid disturbing any guests who may be staying there but not invited!
Spend time bathing and walking with elephants! A rare and special moment.
By air or train to Jaipur followed by a 45 min drive.
By car from Delhi, Ramathra Fort, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Samode, Chhattrasagar, Shahpura Bagh, Agra.