Zainabad (Little Rann of Kutch)
Desert Coursers in Zainabad (Little Rann of Kutch) was recommended to us by Madhu’s friend Soumya who had stayed with them earlier on and had completely enjoyed the experience. It was also recommended in the Lonely Planet so we knew that we couldn’t go wrong. And we didn’t! It was a very unique stay made all the more special by the presence of the host family and their interaction with the guests.
Desert Coursers was founded in 1984 by a direct descendant of Nawab Zain Khan, who was the ruler of Zainabad back in the day. Today his son, Dhanraj and Dhanraj’s wife, Zainab, manage the operations along with a friendly and efficient staff. The resort, called Camp Zainabad, has been built on the property where the royal family’s palace once stood. Today the palace does not exist and in its place are a bunch of traditionally built, eco-friendly cottages, locally called Koobas. Each of them have a small front porch where one can sit on a swing and take in the wonderful surroundings. Inside are traditional Khatiyas with super-comfortable bedding and quilts. These khatiyas don’t look it but are extremely comfortable. Extending beyond this room is a small dressing area backed up by a bathroom. The roof is tiled and thatched from the outside. Each Kooba has an air-conditioner and a ceiling fan for warmer weathers.
These accommodations are fantastic for a true taste of rural life. For people like me, though, it can get a little uncomfortable to see lizards on the walls – I don’t like things to be that rural.
Dhanraj and Zainab make the stay very personal by spending as much time with the guests as possible. They are always around and are fantastic to converse with. Over the years they have hosted many people from around the world and have much to talk about. Their life and work at Camp Zainabad is very intriguing and they patiently answered our myriad questions. They were also super-helpful in planning our trips around Rann as well as our onward journey.
The stay at Camp Zainabad includes all meals, which are prepared fresh on-site and served in a beautiful open-air setting. Breakfast included the usual tea, coffee, cereals, toast, butter, jam as well as some warm food like poha and/or eggs prepared to our liking. Lunch and Dinner had vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian items served with rotis and rice. It was all very nice.
Even though they don’t particularly offer laundry services, when we enquired about it they happily offered to get our clothes laundered at one of the homes. It’s small stuff like this that made the stay very warm and personal – it felt like we were at a homestay rather than a resort or hotel.
We highly recommend Camp Zainabad to all those who need a break from their urban lives and reconnect with nature. Even if you don’t go on the safaris, it’s just great to loll around the resort with a book and relax. I know we will definitely return someday to do just that!