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Volunteering in Israel – Living with Alpacas!

I am currently studying zoology at university and with nothing to do over the summer holiday I decided to try volunteering to get some work experience, and, as I love travelling, I decided to volunteer abroad. After hours of searching the internet for animal-related volunteer projects I came across GoEco which seemed perfect. They had so many interesting projects that it was difficult to make up my mind, but I finally decided to go to Israel to the Desert Alpaca Farm project

I arrived in Jerusalem on a Sunday evening. We had the orientation the next morning where I got to meet the other volunteers from all over the world, see the city of Jerusalem and eat the best falafel I have ever had. The next day it was time for everyone to go to their projects. I was going to be working in the Desert Aplaca Farm in the Negev desert for two weeks with another volunteer from Spain. Our volunteer coordinator Yan took me to the project as it was a bit tricky to get there. He was always so helpful and I knew I could always ask for help if I needed anything.

When I arrived at the farm all the staff members were very welcoming and from the moment I got there I knew I was going to have an amazing time. They all spoke English so I had no problem communicating with any of them. I was living on the farm sharing a caravan with a staff member. The caravan had all the basic things you need such as fully equipped kitchen, bathroom and my own bedroom. There was no wifi connection as we were living in the middle of the desert, but I could use the office computer in the evenings which had internet. There was also a small town about 3 km away where I did my food shopping or got a bus to other cities. The staff members were always happy to drive me there so I did not have to walk there in the desert heat.

I was volunteering in August, which is the hottest month of the year (temperature over 40°C), so it took me some time to get accustomed to the heat as I am used to the cold European climate but after a while the heat didn’t bother me that much anymore and I even felt like it was too cold in the evenings when it was still about 25-30°C. Just make sure you drink plenty of water.

The typical day at work started at 8 o’clock with feeding the animals (horses, alpacas, llamas, goats, camels) which was my favourite part of the day. It took about an hour after which I had some free time. At 11 we started cleaning the guest houses which took a few hours after which I had some free time again until 5 pm when we fed the animals once more.

In the evenings I had free time. I usually went for a walk in the desert to see the sunset. There was a crater nearby which offered some breathtaking views. Once I even took a llama for a walk with me which was a lot of fun! I also got to try horseback riding which was an amazing experience. After that I cooked dinner, either on my own, or went to the other caravan (where the other volunteer was living with some other staff members) where they all cooked together. On Fridays there was a big family dinner to which I was invited to and where I got to taste traditional Israeli food which was absolutely delicious!

I had 2 days off per week when I got to do some sightseeing around other parts of Israel. I went snorkeling in Eilat and visited the Coral Reef project, as well as went to the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi nature reserve which was definitely the best part of my trip. It was so beautiful with some amazing waterfalls and springs where to swim in.

All in all, I had an amazing time in Israel and I am glad I decided to go there with Goeco as they made the journey so much easier. The Desert Alpaca Farm was definitely the best project I could choose. It is really a paradise there for people who love animals and being in the nature. After 2 weeks of volunteering in Israel I did not even want to go back home and I am already planning to go back to Israel because there is so much more to see and do.