If you thought you had seen it all in Israel, chances are you have not visited a classic Bedouin Tent in the middle of the Judean desert where you can opt to have a cultural overnight in one of a handful of desert oases throughout Israel. I had the chance to stay in a Bedouin Tent as part of my Birthright Israel trip and although I went into it being quite nervous, it turned out to be one of the most memorable parts of my trip. I was surprised at how nice the accommodations were even in the middle of the desert. To start your Bedouin Tent overnight stay, you'll pull up to a vista similar to this (courtesy of Kfar Hanokdim, see their website here):
You'll quickly see that you have entered into a warm, Bedouin community the members of which are experts in the hospitality industry.
You'll be ushered to your bungalow where you'll have the chance to put your things down and get settled.
You'll quickly notice the Bedouin natives who are there to help you feel at home. It will be just as buys as any hotel you might check into and thus you will have many guests in your company.
It won't take long for the hookah to be offered, plates of food to be served and tea and coffee to be poured while enjoying the desert landscape.
You will look forward to a delicious, home-cooked meal that is both authentic and mouth-watering. Freshly baked pita will be served alongside hummus, meat and a spread of traditional Israeli appetizers. I promise you won't go hungry. On the contrary, you will find yourself rather full.
After you've eaten and closer to sunset, you will find a huge party gathering outdoors. You'll enjoy a true Bedouin show with everything from a fire show to belly dancers to hours and hours of music and good times. It's definitely a unique experience to be rocking out to Bedouin tunes in the middle of the Judean desert and it's this type of night that makes your stay so memorable.
Traditional sleeping arrangements in a Bedouin Tent, if you didn't already know, can be seen below. It is typical to be housed together in one large room where you will be sleeping on your own mat in the company of all the other guests. So, yes, you are sharing one giant bedroom. Another reason that this makes for a uniquely memorable experience, as you can imagine. Bring your own sleeping bag to sleep in and you will be given clean and comfortable mats on top of which to sleep. Despite the circumstances, I found that I slept quite well in the shared Bedouin Tent.
If you are not quite that ready to "go native", then you can also opt to sleep in a private villa for couples or in a small lodges for approximately 6-8 guests.
You will find the bathroom and shower facilities to your liking. Much cleaner than you would expect.
After a filling breakfast, it will be time for your camel ride, if you haven't taken one already the previous night. With so many guests, not everyone can go at once.
Riding a camel off into the Judean desert, being led by Bedouin natives, is surely a unique memory that will last a lifetime.
There are handfuls of Bedouin Tent overnight options for you here in Israel, but a few popular choices including the following:
- Chan Hashayarot (see website here)
- Kfar Hanokdim (see website here)
- Mamshit Camel Ranch (see website here)
Those above sites will give you a good overview of the options and price ranges you can expect for your overnight stay. Usually you will have to email the company for a price quote, though they are usually very quick about getting back to you.
So whether you live in Israel or are just coming for a visit, if you haven't ever done a Bedouin Tent overnight, it's a highly recommended item that I advise adding to your itinerary. You will really feel like you've experienced Israel the authentic way after visiting such a place!