Israel - Desert Eco Building
Help build an eco village in the stunning Arava Desert. Volunteers will learn to work with environmentally friendly materials such as earth, mud, and straw and have a unique eco experience.
|Location of Project||Tzukim 1.5 hours north of Eilat, Israel|
|Project Length||Min 2 weeks - Max 8 weeks|
|Arrival Airport||Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion or Eilat|
|Volunteer Work||Earth & mud building, hosting guests, and maintenance|
|Number of Participants||1 - 4 international volunteers|
|Age||18 - 50|
|Accommodation||Beduin style tents and mud huts|
|Food||Provisions for cooking (except during orientation in Jerusalem)|
|Support||Local 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|
What's Not Included
Located in the Arava Valley, right in the heart of the Negev desert is Desert Days. 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 village resort built from mud and local materials. It is an eco-lodge that was built by hand, from the ground up. 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.. Mud is a "tolerant' material. The dried material can be "revived" and re-shaped over a long period of time, and of course, you can enjoy getting your hands dirty as you work! 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.
As part of the volunteering program, participants will experience working with earth building combined with hospitality work and living in the desert.
Orientation in Jerusalem
The volunteer adventure will start off with a GoEco orientation at the Abraham 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 travel advice in Israel for 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 night-life
- 1 night dorm accommodation and breakfast (private rooms available for extra price)
The GoEco orientation will begin at 10:00 AM on arrival day. The next morning, volunteers will travel to the volunteer project with public transportation. Full travel details to Jerusalem and the project will be provided upon registration.
Volunteer Work and Contribution
Volunteers will mainly assist with the construction and maintenance of the eco village. Volunteers and staff will use earth found in the surrounding area. Volunteers will learn different techniques to mold the Earth and sustainable materials to create the following:
- Eco cabins
- Sitting Areas
- Decorative patterns
- Renovation of structures when needed
There is also a hospitality component to the program that requires volunteers to be involved in general maintenance duties such as: cleaning, gardening, repairs, cooking, and preparing huts for eco-tourist guests. During national holidays volunteers' duties will be focused mainly hosting guests at the eco village.
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.
Please note that the following dates in 2014 fall on Israeli holidays and therefore the volunteer work will revolve mainly around tourist hosting: April 13-23, June 3-8, September 24-October 19, and December 17-24.
Accommodations: volunteers will stay in basic 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.
Food: provided for cooking
Internet: there is one computer for emails, a 10 minute walk from the resort
Laundry: washing machine is available
After work hours, volunteers can enjoy this unique desert region, relax by the new eco pool, and just chill out under the stars. Volunteers will receive the weekends off to explore other regions of Israel such as Eilat and Jerusalem. Volunteers can also join Yoga lessons once a week at the resort.
- Minimum age 18 years old
- Conversational English or Hebrew
- Good physical fitness
- Strong work ethic
- Motivation to do physical and demanding work
- Able to work in harsh desert climate
- Highly independent
- Full travel and medical insurance
Volunteers should note that the project is located in an isolated part of the desert, most contact is with other volunteers and a few travellers in the area.
Additionally, please note that the desert climate can get quite harsh in the summer months.
Here's an excerpt of Margaux's experience:
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