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GoEco

Building a Desert Eco Village

Tzukim, Israel

Agency | GoEco

Help build an eco village in the stunning Arava Desert and learn to work with environmentally friendly building materials such as earth, mud, and straw.

Located in the Arava Valley, right in the heart of the Negev desert is the Desert Days village. 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 eco-lodge resort completely built by hand and from mud and local materials. 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. Since mud is a "tolerant' material, it can be "revived" and re-shaped over a long period of time.  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. 
 
Orientation in Jerusalem
Your volunteer adventure will start off with a GoEco orientation at a fantastic 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 advice for travelling around Israel 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 nightlife
1 night dorm accommodation and breakfast (private rooms are available for an additional fee)
The GoEco orientation will begin at 10:00 AM on arrival day. The next morning,you will travel to your volunteer project via public transportation. Full travel details to Jerusalem and the project will be provided upon registration.
 
Volunteer Work and Contribution
You will mainly assist with the construction and maintenance of the eco village by using earth found in the surrounding area.  Building a structure can take up to half a year due to the process of first building the frame from wood, then packing it with hay and covering it with three layers of mud.  You will learn different techniques to mold the earth and how to use sustainable materials to create the following:
  • Eco cabins
  • Benches
  • Sitting Areas
  • Decorative patterns
  • Renovation of structures when needed
There is also a hospitality component to the program that may requireyou to be involved in general maintenance duties such as: cleaning, gardening, repairs, cooking, and preparing huts for eco-tourist guests. During national holidays your duties will focus on hosting guests at the eco village. 

Important Notes
You should note that the project is located in an isolated part of the desert so most contact is with other volunteers and a few travelers in the area.  You should be an independent person who enjoys the quiet and beauty of nature.
Additionally, please note that the desert climate is very extreme and you will need to cope with wind, dust and heat.  During the summer months, the temperature and environment can get quite harsh.
This project is ideal for volunteers who enjoy physical work and getting their hands dirty.

Minimal Requirements
  • Minimum age 18, maximum age 45
  • Conversational English or Hebrew
  • Good physical fitness
  • Strong work ethic
  • Motivation to do physically demanding work
  • Able to work in harsh desert climate
  • Highly independent
  • Full travel and medical insurance

Typical day

Because of the harsh desert conditions, you will work from about 7am - 10am and then have a long afternoon break during which you can lounge by the pool and relax. Work will begin again at 4pm and finish around 7pm.  You will be able to gaze at the stars during the evening and chat around the campfire.    

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.  The conditions in the desert are extreme so volunteers need to be prepared for the climate as well as the highly physical work of building and construction.

Holidays
Please note that the month of October contains several holidays that may affect your trip. Expect to have a half day off of work on the 11th, 16th and 23rd of October, and a full day off of work on the 12th, 17th and 24th. 

Free-time activities

After work hours, volunteers can enjoy this unique desert region, relax by the new eco pool, and just chill out under the stars. You will have the weekends off to explore other regions of Israel such as Eilat and Jerusalem. You can also join yoga lessons once a week at the resort.

Swimming
Hiking
Museum/Opera
Yoga/Meditation

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level) and Hebrew (basic level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
-Good physical fitness
-Strong work ethic
-Motivation to do physically demanding work
-Able to work in harsh desert climate
-Highly independent
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 07:00 - 19:00

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups

Any questions? Just ask. We at GoEco are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation
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Included Services

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We refund your fees if GoEco cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by GoEco.
Services by GoEco

Included in the fees are the accommodation, provisions for cooking as well as our local in-country team and 24 hour emergency support.


Furthermore, a comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage is included. You will also receive a pre-departure kit with the full project details as well as all necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival.

Accommodation
You will stay in very basic, rustic 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.  

During non-working hours, you can relax by the pool or watch a movie on the laptop.  There is a gas station about a 15 minute walk from the resort if you wish to purchase snacks.

Internet: there is one computer for emails, a 10 minute walk from the resort.

Laundry: washing machine is available for your use.
Camping
Food & Beverages

We will provide you with groceries for cooking.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) in Tel Aviv-Yafo. We assist you to find cheap flights to Israel.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Israel provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Israel you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Israel.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
$610.00
3 weeks
$680.00
4 weeks
$760.00
5 weeks
$830.00
6 weeks
$910.00
7 weeks
$990.00
8 weeks
$1,020.00
9 weeks
$1,140.00
10 weeks (max. stay)
$1,210.00
Average fees
$213.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Tzukim/Israel between 2 weeks and 10 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. GoEco will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Israel.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with GoEco during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
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