Jaipur, India

Dera Amer


Elephantine elegance


Amid the Aravalli Range

Join the ponderous elephants, dusky eagle owls and white-naped tits (birds, not naughty guests) at Dera Amer, a Rajasthani safari camp that doesn’t stint on creature comforts. Enjoy Pushkar cuisine in a dining pavillion lit with mashals (flaming torches) and bonfires, admire local folk-dance performances, set off on treks to temples, mountains, villages and monuments; then return to the comfort of boutique base camp. Most of all, befriend the resident Dumbos: wash them, feed them, bathe them, ride them – even paint them. They’ve been rescued from Jaipur, and are (understandably) in love with their new life.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A sparkling-wine sundowner each by the camp


Photos Dera Amer – Jaipur – India

Need to know


Four tented suites.


Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.


Look out for the ancient chattris (memorials) that dot the woodlands around the camp.

Hotel closed

Between 1 May and 30 September.

At the hotel

A 60-acre sprawl of protected wilderness (see if you can spot the onsite mediaeval temple). In rooms: iPod dock; desk; board games; oil heater in the tent and bathroom; minibar; Forest Essentials bath products.

Our favourite rooms

The tents are identical – and there’s no duff option here: each of the sleeping quarters is decorated with sand-coloured matting, ruby-red fabrics and furnishings, soft rugs and polished campaign furniture (designed to be packed up and carried on a march, if necessary – definitely not, in this case). The tents have power showers and electricity; you’ll also get your own shaded porch, equipped with a pair of comfy deckchairs.


No spa onsite, but the Tree of Life Resort & Spa is just 10 minutes away by car (www.treeofliferesorts.com). Try a turmeric and salt body scrub, a wild honey and vanilla wrap, or a facial featuring yoghurt and your choice of extras, tailored to your skin type.

Packing tips

Keen twitchers, your luck’s in: Dera Amer equips each tent with a pair of binoculars and a handy book on birds – extra points if you spot a white-naped tit or dusky eagle owl.


Take part in Pilates, yoga and fitness sessions in the grounds (INR1,000 a person, each class).


Little Smiths are extremely welcome – they can stay for free, if they’re aged seven or under. Bear in mind you’ll have to lug prams and other kit across a valley, as it’s a 15-minute walk from where you’ll be dropped off by car on arrival.


Lots of staff onsite, an absence of other guests and acres of tranquil woodland make this a dream stay for little Smiths – and it’s super safe.

Best for

Teenagers and little Smiths aged between 6 and 12 – there’s no creche or babysitters, and it’s a 15-minute walk to your accommodation from the drop-off point, so you don’t want to lug prams and other paraphernalia.

Recommended rooms

The tents share the same setup; all four are great.


Your brood will go wild for the elephants, which you can bathe, feed and play with. There are also nature walks, birdwatching trips and a stash of board games.


Just ask staff nicely if you’d like dishes adapted according to junior tastes.

No need to pack

Board games – Dera Amer has a stash.


This hotel has a huge heart: it gives domesticated elephants from Jaipur a new home in its picturesque patch of parkland, within the protected Aravalli Range. Staff are local; food is organic and farm fresh.

Food and Drink

Photos Dera Amer – Jaipur – India

Top Table

Beside the elephants (yes, really): Dera Amer’s alfresco breakfasts will have you munching muesli while the elephants chomp grass.

Dress Code

Out of Africa, with a Rajasthani spin. The following trio is a safe bet: cotton; cashmere; cologne.

Hotel restaurant

Dinner is served in a separate dining tent, or in a beautful arched pavillion set on lush lawns and lit with mashals (flame torches) and bonfires by night. Local folk dancers sometimes provide performances, accompanied by musicians. (You’ll share this space with visitors here on day trips or elephant treks.) Sample Pushkar cuisine, including a delicious Dera mutton dish, which is cooked slowly and results in melt-in-the-mouth meat. Western options can also be requested – anything goes, really.


Hotel bar

There’s no formal bar as such, though one of the tents can be used as a lounge area. Instead, drinks and cocktails – including the excellent Dera Punch – are rustled up on request. Take your sundowners and clamber up the rocky outcrops to the small ledge, a few steps up – you’ll get Insta-worthy views.

Last orders

It’s a relaxed set-up – breakfast and dinner are served whenever guests want them. Lunch isn’t on offer, but the hotel has a slew of recommendations up its khaki sleeve.

Room service

The owners are onsite around the clock – if you want a snack or drink between meals, just ask nicely.


Photos Dera Amer – Jaipur – India
Dera Amer
Village Khurad - Kukas, Tehsil Amer


Fly into Jaipur International Airport, 31 kilometres from the hotel – an hour’s drive (www.jaipurairport.com).


Jaipur Junction train station is 27 kilometres away, with services connecting to India’s main cities.


Leave the chaotic driving to Jaipur’s glut of taxis, buses and coaches – you’ll only be stressed out behind the wheel.

Worth getting out of bed for

Start by befriending the local elephants: bathe them, feed them, paint them (yup), serenade them – just generally get to know them. You can also set off on an adventurous elephant trek or camel safari in the Aravalli forests, ticking off hutments, ancient monuments and temples (keep your eyes peeled for leopards, hyena, jackals, antelopes and wolves). For the most magical trek, set off at sunset – you’ll be served cocktails to sip while riding your elephant, fire buckets will keep you warm and the trek concludes with a sunset barbecue. Back on your own two feet, there’s plenty to see close by: walk for five minutes to discover the mediaeval temple of Gopal Ji, or the homes of the local Meena tribespeople, who have called this patch of Jaipur home for centuries. Spend some time on their farms, or visit the rural school for the local children. Hop on a Jeep for half an hour to admire Maji Ki Baori – a mediaeval stepwell – or Amer Fort. You can also ask the hotel to organise expeditions into the wilderness that surrounds the camp, guided by expert local tribespeople, or hot-air-balloon rides with Sky Waltz.

Local restaurants

Arrange to have a car take you into Jaipur – perhaps for the Smith-approved Samode Palace’s ravishing restaurant, which serves refined Rajasthani, Asian and European dishes, courtesy of chef Raheev Sharma. Stay in Jaipur for rooftop drinks at Fairmont Jaipur’s Aasma bar (aasma means ‘sky’ in Hindi).



Photos Dera Amer – Jaipur – India

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this safari hotel in Rajasthan and unpacked their pith helmets and long socks, a full account of their wild break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Dera Amer near Jaipur…

Dera Amer isn’t your average hotel. Instead of cars, it has camels; instead of a formal restaurant, it has a torch-lit dining pavilllion; instead of rooms, it has luxury tents (equipped with proper showers and electricity, natch); instead of other guests, it has a herd of docile Dumbos, rescued from Jaipur. The elephants are Dera Amer’s most entrancing attraction. Forget watching TV or wasting time online, here you can hang out with the gentle giants, washing them, bathing them, feeding them – even painting them (apparently they don’t mind). The insights into woodland ways don’t end there. You’ll get binoculars and a book on birds, so you can acquaint yourself with what’s flying in the skies above you. Discover mediaeval temples and ancient monuments in the wildnerness (perhaps on the back of your favourite elephant or camel, cocktail in hand), or spend some time talking to the tribespeople whose huts dot the landscape. All creatures great and beautiful, all things wild and wonderful, Dera Amer loves them all.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Dera Amer’s Guestbook below.
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