Israel - Desert Wildlife Program
Join this unique wildlife conservation program in the spectacular desert landscape of the Arava, and help to re-populate the nature reserve with the region's native species!
|Location of Project||Arava Desert, 50km north of Eilat, Israel|
|Project Length||Min 4 weeks - Max 10 weeks|
|Arrival Airport||Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion|
|Volunteer Work||Feeding animals and cleaning habitats, maintenance, observations and data collection|
|Number of Participants||Up to 4 international volunteers|
|Age||18 - 50|
|Accommodation||Shared apartment on the reserve|
|Support||Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support|
|Transportation||Public bus from Jerusalem to Reserve (one way)|
|Orientation||GoEco volunteer and travel orientation in Jerusalem|
|Pre-Departure Kit||Full project details will be sent following registration|
What's Not Included
The Negev is a desert region that covers the southern half of Israel. The least populated area in Israel, it is home to a wide variety of people such as the nomadic desert people known as the Bedouin as well as unique African wildlife. The Wildlife Reserve is located in the dramatically scenic Arava Valley, which is part of the Negev.
About the Project
As part of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (NPA), the Wildlife Reserve is actively involved in establishing reproduction groups for populations of endangered desert animals, preserving the native wildlife, and educating the public about the desert and its inhabitants.
The reserve encompasses a variety of arid-land habitats including acacia groves, salt-flats, and sand. The reserve has three parts:
- A three-acre penned-in area where herds of herbivores live in conditions similar to those in the wild
- The Predators' Center where reptiles, small desert animals, and large predators are on display
- The Desert Night Life Exhibition Hall where night and day are reversed so that visitors can observe nocturnal animals during their active hours
GoEco volunteers will join the Wildlife Reserve staff with its on-going conservation and animal care work.
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 way to meet fellow volunteers and travelers from around the world 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
During the project, volunteers will become an integral part of the staff at the Wildlife Reserve. Volunteer duties may include the following:
- Preparing food and feeding animals
- Cleaning and maintaining reserve facilities
- Accompanying & assisting park rangers
- Constructing enrichment facilities
It's important to note that work tasks are likely to change and be unpredictable due to the dynamic nature of the reserve.
Working hours: generally from 7:00 until 15:30, this is just a guideline and the schedule may change from week to week.
Fridays and Saturdays are free days.
Accommodations: volunteers will stay in a basic apartment on the reserve (see photos). This can give the chance for volunteers to experience the nightlife on the reserve including night safaris and feeds. Volunteers need to provide their own linens, sleeping bags, or blankets, according to the season.
Food: there is an equipped kitchen for volunteers to use, including a gas stove, and mineral water tap.
Food is not provided, however volunteers will have the chance to go grocery shopping once a week; there is also a kiosk to buy snacks on the reserve (budget around $50 per week for food).
Internet: internet available on shared computer
Laundry: bring detergent for hand washing
Important note: the reserve and accommodations are located a 45 minute walk from the nearest bus stop. Occasionally, rangers and park employees can give volunteers a lift to the bus stop, however volunteers should not expect this and understand that it is often difficult to navigate from the reserve.
Volunteers will experience life in the desert and get to know up close this beautiful landscape, situated on the African-Syrian rift and directly on the migratory bird route.
The international beach resort of Eilat is only 50 kilometers away (price to / from Eilat by bus is about $5), if volunteers want to enjoy some snorkeling, go to an internet cafe, or enjoy the vibrant night life.
During days off, it is also possible to travel around Israel or visit Jordan.
- Min age 18 - Max age 50
- High level of independence
- Basic English
- Good physical fitness
- Motivation to work with animals
- Able to handle extreme heat from June - September
- Full travel & medical insurance
Here's an excerpt of Henrik's experience:
Here's an excerpt of yan's experience:
Check out our Volunteer Blog at blog.goeco.org to read an experience
written by a GoEco volunteer from the animal reserve!
"I had the most amazing time on this placement. I could never have asked for friendlier more easy going people to work with, and they made me feel welcome from the moment that I started there. Staying on the nature reserve was beautiful and waking up every morning to the most beautiful views never got boring and I was so envious of the people who live there.
Working with animals that I have only ever seen on telly was fascinating. I will take so much from this experience, I took part in a range of different activities from cleaning and feeding the animals to more hands on activities such as washing Birds of prey (that had ben injured) then getting them rehabilitated to the wild. I also improved and helped design some enclosures. This experience was all I could have asked for. "
Philipa- UK, 2011
"Working next to the animals every day... seeing that each one of them had an individual personality was breathtaking. The leopards were fierce, sleek and playful, the wolves invincible and totally dependent on each other all at once, and the tortoises - they will never finish last in my mind."
Lena - Australia, 2010
"I chose the wildlife preserve project because it was something different. I have been to Israel many times before and the last thing I wanted was a beech holiday, I wanted to experience the real and unique part of Israel. The project was indeed an incredible and unique experience. The people at the preserve made me and my fellow volunteers feel so welcomed. They treated us as one of their own (colleagues) and that was very important to me. Because I study architecture, they had me designing and building the new cat sanctuaries which was a great honor and experience for me. I felt that the work I was doing was actually contributing to the preserve. I really did have an amazing 3 weeks, so much so that I stayed on for an extra few days before my flight home. If I have the opportunity I would love to go back to Yotvata".
Jodie - USA, 2009
"Being in this terrific place in the desert, far away from the city, doing physical work together with other people, sharing experiences, doing things I have never done before in my life, the smiling and open faces of the staff of the reserve- they were always open for our questions, gave us many opportunities to get to know new things, explained how they live in the desert and about the animals etc. - they were great personalities and always ready to show us what they do and participate in it!. And my favorite activity was cutting the meat! It was also nice to help in the kitchen preparing food for animals and the other volunteers, cleaning cages and feeding, seeing the open area, cleaning the places in and around hai bar- this was very nice! It was also great that we could enter the other sites in Israel of the Natural Reserves (En Gedi, Coral Reef etc.) for free- this made us really feel a part of the whole and we were proud to be volunteers!"
Agnieszka - Poland, 2009