Bedouin Hospitality in the Negev Desert

Bedouin Hospitality in the Negev Desert

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It’s hard to say that I’ve met a bunch of people who were more than accommodating  than our Bedouin hosts.  If anyone is planning a trip to Israel soon, I highly encourage you to spend a night in a Bedouin settlement and learn about their everyday life.  It was truly an eye opener how others live and made me grateful for how easy things are back at home.  They do live pretty comfortably, just in a different way.

We stayed at Kfar Hanokdim, which lies in the Kana’im valley in the Negev Desert.  Palm leaves and biblically inspired gardens are found throughout the settlement.

Different tents are found throughout- some for eating, some for sleeping, and some for just hanging out.

Authentic Bedouin Dinner:
After riding camels in the sweltering desert heat and surviving my little incident with my angry weak donkey, I joined the group in the Bedouin tent for some dinner.  The tent was set up with pillows on the floor around low circular tables.  Guess we wouldn’t be eating at the dinner table tonight!  The Bedouins brought out giant trays with loads of food- authentically seasoned chicken, flavored rice, fresh baked pita, salad, and of course, all the hummus you could want. I can honestly say that I had my best meal yet in a Bedouin tent in the middle of the desert.  Eating out of styrofoam bowls with plastic forks.  Surely says something about the food.

Eating on the floor around these “tables” as a group, looking out of the tent with the sun setting in the background, will most definitely stay with me the rest of my life.

Notice my band aids from my tragic donkey experience
a little while earlier…

Traditional Music and homemade Coffee/Tea:
After dinner, our Bedouin host treated us to Turkish coffee and spiced Bedouin tea and traditional Bedouin music.  Sitting on the floor again, we learned about the Bedouin culture, religion, and the relationship with the State of Israel.  Our host performed an ancient coffee making ceremony, with the coffee beans roasting on the fire while he drummed a traditional rhythm.  One of the members of our group ground the coffee in a stone mortar.  We then stuffed our already super-full-stomachs with some fire baked pita.

We learned that most Bedouins ride what he referred to as “automatic camels”– haha, cars like Subaru, Mitsubishi, and Toyota.  It was crazy to see power lines in the middle of the desert, and our host shared with us how technology is changing the way the Bedouins live and their everyday lifestyle.

Setting up camp:
When I first read the description on our itinerary depicting that we would be staying the night in a Bedouin settlement, in a tent none the less, I had no idea what to expect. I was surprised to find out that, all 40 of us, would be sleeping in the same tent. Boys and Girls.  Together.  For all our other room arrangements, this was never allowed.  We made bets on who would hook up with who that night.  Something was obviously bound to happen.  [I think I was correct on a few…]

When we finally arrived to our tent, I then learned just how big it was.  Everyone grabbed “mattresses” sheets from the center of the tent, and with no strategic thought, set up their beds for the night.  The sun was shining through the hatched ceiling then, but we did not realize that once it got dark out, it would be rather difficult to find our beds.  Our tent looked like a hot mess, with sleeping bags and other belongings scattered throughout the tent.  I probably stepped on quite a few toothbrushes and clean pairs of underwear- sorry guys!

I probably ended up straddling the trunk of a palm tree in the middle of the night, as my bed was super close to it.  I like palm trees.  Things could have been worse.

After Hours:
Once dinner and coffee and tea-making were over, we had the rest of the night to enjoy ourselves. I guess some of the guys in our group were Boy Scouts in the past, because a HUGE fire was set up in no time. We sang songs and danced around the campfire while our guide played guitar, talked and laughed under the Negev sky, and just had a good time all together.

Some of us even went on a night walk into the desert, which was an experience I will take with me the rest of my life. With no lights around us, and the complete silence and darkness of the desert, we were surrounded by glistening stars.  But more on that later…

A few tired members of the group went back to the tent, while most of us continued to hang out until the wee hours of the night.  We were hiking up Masada the next morning (meaning our wake-up call was at 4am), and I’m guessing some wanted to actually get a good nights some sleep.  N. and I eventually made it back to the tent, although hardly slept due to the sweltering heat and anticipation for the next morning.

Have you ever stayed in a Bedouin tent? 
What was your experience like?

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  • Inna says:

    This sound awesome! Right now we are trying to plan our visit to Israel for August 2013. And a visit to Bedouins village sounds just right, could you share how did you organize it? Thank you, Inna.

  • Abbie says:

    I would love to know what organization or website you booked this experience through! Please share!

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