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Israel - Desert Eco Building

Help build an eco village in the stunning Arava Desert. Volunteers will learn to work with environmentally friendly building materials such as earth, mud, and straw, and have a unique eco experience.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectTzukim 1.5 hours north of Eilat, Israel
Project LengthMin 2 weeks - Max 8 weeks
Arrival AirportTel Aviv, Ben Gurion, or Eilat
Volunteer WorkEarth & mud building, hosting guests, and maintenance
Number of Participants1 - 5 international volunteers
Age18 - 30

What's Included

AccommodationBeduin style tents and mud huts
FoodProvisions for cooking (except during orientation in Jerusalem)
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Orientation GoEco volunteer and travel orientation in Jerusalem
Health Insurance Comprehensive health insurance for volunteering in Israel

What's Not Included

Flights, airport transfer to Jerusalem (budget around $20), local transportation to and from project (budget around $40), travel insurance, personal expenses, visa (if applicable).


Located in the Arava Valley, right in the heart of the Negev desert is the Desert Days village. To the west is Wadi Tzofar with its overhanging cliffs and to the east are the red mountains of Edom, Jordan. The landscape of the region was formed by earth movements along the great Syrian-African rift valley and then by the effects of sun, wind, and water over millions of years. Nature has a powerful presence here, radiating both strength and tranquility. Comfortable transportation by bus on the Arava road will take you to Eilat, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. 


About the Project

Desert Days is a unique eco-lodge resort completely built by hand and from mud and local materials. It's a creative and gratifying experience that requires a lot of hard work. The use of eco-friendly materials in sustainable building is important for two reasons: firstly, for the welfare of our planet; and secondly, simply for ourselves. Building with mud is worlds away from working with concrete, wood, acrylic materials, etc. Since mud is a "tolerant' material, it can be "revived" and re-shaped over a long period of time.  Desert Days was created by a young family to fulfill the principles of simplistic living and close contact to the earth. Guests are hosted from around the world to enjoy this stunning place while learning about and experiencing sustainable living. 


Orientation in Jerusalem

Your volunteer adventure will start off with a GoEco orientation at a fantastic hostel in the center of Jerusalem. The orientation is a great base to meet fellow volunteers and travelers, and includes the following:

  • Volunteer preparation and travel directions to the program
  • Expert advice for travelling around Israel during and after your volunteer placement
  • Walking tour of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the famous Machane Yehuda market
  • Discount card to experience Jerusalem's vibrant nightlife
  • 1 night dorm accommodation and breakfast (private rooms are available for an additional fee)

The GoEco orientation will begin at 10:00 AM on arrival day. The next morning,you will travel to your volunteer project via public transportation. Full travel details to Jerusalem and the project will be provided upon registration.


Volunteer Work and Contribution

You will mainly assist with the construction and maintenance of the eco village by using earth found in the surrounding area.  Building a structure can take up to half a year due to the process of first building the frame from wood, then packing it with hay and covering it with three layers of mud.  You will learn different techniques to mold the earth and how to use sustainable materials to create the following:

  • Eco cabins
  • Benches
  • Sitting Areas
  • Decorative patterns
  • Renovation of structures when needed

There is also a hospitality component to the program that may requireyou to be involved in general maintenance duties such as: cleaning, gardening, repairs, cooking, and preparing huts for eco-tourist guests. During national holidays your duties will focus on hosting guests at the eco village. 

A typical day: Because of the harsh desert conditions, you will work from about 7am - 10am and then have a long afternoon break during which you can lounge by the pool and relax.  Work will begin again at 4pm and finish around 7pm.  You will be able to gaze at the stars during the evening and chat around the campfire.    

Volunteers are expected to work 6-7 hours per day / 5 days per week. The team is small, intimate and friendly. The work requires manual-labor and spending lots of hours outside in the Negev desert.  The conditions in the desert are extreme so volunteers need to be prepared for the climate as well as the highly physical work of building and construction.

Holidays: Please note that the month of October contains several holidays that may affect your trip. Expect to have a half day off of work on the 11th, 16th and 23rd of October, and a full day off of work on the 12th, 17th and 24th. 


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: you will stay in very basic, rustic Bedouin style huts for 1 - 2 people with mattresses, linens, and wood burning heaters. Facilities include a communal living room, equipped kitchen, shared bathrooms with compost toilets and hot showers, and an outdoor fireplace.  During non-working hours, you can relax by the pool or watch a movie on the laptop.  There is a gas station about a 15 minute walk from the resort if you wish to purchase snacks.

Food: Groceries are provided  for cooking.

Internet: there is one computer for emails, a 10 minute walk from the resort.

Laundry: washing machine is available for your use.


Travel Highlights

After work hours, volunteers can enjoy this unique desert region, relax by the new eco pool, and just chill out under the stars. You will have the weekends off to explore other regions of Israel such as Eilat and Jerusalem. You can also join yoga lessons once a week at the resort.


Minimal Requirements

  • Minimum age 18, maximum age 45
  • Conversational English or Hebrew
  • Good physical fitness
  • Strong work ethic
  • Motivation to do physically demanding work
  • Able to work in harsh desert climate
  • Highly independent
  • Full travel and medical insurance


Important Notes

You should note that the project is located in an isolated part of the desert so most contact is with other volunteers and a few travelers in the area.  You should be an independent person who enjoys the quiet and beauty of nature.

Additionally, please note that the desert climate is very extreme and you will need to cope with wind, dust and heat.  During the summer months, the temperature and environment can get quite harsh.

This project is ideal for volunteers who enjoy physical work and getting their hands dirty.

Here's an excerpt of Kelly's experience:



"Along with two workers and four other volunteers, we worked hard to build an eco-cabin constructed from a mixture of earth, sand, and hay. We enjoyed regular trips to the pool during our breaks and ate family-style meals three times daily. Here, I fully embraced Israeli culture and learned more about the Hebrew language as well as how to prepare traditional Israeli food."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Jackie's experience:

  "That afternoon, we started our work. Girls were assigned to work with mud while my job was sifting sands for the preparation of the mud. Then I “made the mud” by mixing buckets of earth and sifted sands and straws. Honestly, it was so tiring, especially under the sun, but this was something I had never done before, which made it really fun."

Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Martin's interview about trekking from Germany to Israel:

  “The idea started four years ago…and [I] had such amazing experiences that I decided to do another pilgrimage – this time from Germany to Jerusalem...I have been able to meet amazing people at this eco village and spent time with the local families who live here."
Read the rest of his story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Margaux's experience:

  "On the weekends we would go for walks through the desert. The most beautiful experience I had was walking in the desert during the sunset. It was a full moon that day so we weren’t afraid of nightfall as there would still be plenty of light. We had two hours to come back and a thunderstorm had started. The moon was hidden by clouds and every few minutes we were lit up by the thunderstorm. It was very scary, but so beautiful at the same time!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Check out our Volunteer Blog at blog.goeco.org to read experiences written by GoEco volunteers from all over the world!

"My favorite part of the project was meeting the Israelis who live in the village, the yummy vegan food, working with the mud, and living in the desert."

-Sarah, USA, GoEco Tzukim Volunteer 2011

"I absolutely loved the project. I wish I could have stayed longer ... The people that I worked with were amazing, and RInat and Yair, who run the project, are amazingly funny, warm and wonderful people. I want to go back."

-Kyra, USA, GoEco Tzukim Volunteer, 2011

"I enjoyed everything about it. The work, the scenery and the people were wonderful."

-Harry, USA, GoEco Tzukim Volunteer, 2011




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