Bedouin hospitality experiences including camel riding, Bedouin food, and staying overnight in traditional Bedouin tents are an increasingly popular experience for tourists in Israel. The Bedouins are a group of nomadic tribes who have lived in Israel’s Negev Desert for many hundreds of years, tracing their heritage back to the traders on the ancient Spice Route which crossed the region. Today, many Bedouins in Israel continue to live in traditional ways, with more and more opening up their traditions for the Israeli and international public to see, experience, and understand.
Camel riding in the Negev
Across the Negev Desert in southern Israel are a number of farms which offer a ‘Bedouin hospitality’ including traditional Bedouin meals, camel rides, and overnight accommodation in traditional Bedouin tents. Amid the peace of the desert, a visit to one of these ‘villages’ provides a fascinating insight into the history and lifestyles of Bedouins in Israel as well as a funnest things to do in the Negev.
Many of the Bedouin hospitality villages in Israel offer camel riding as an activity. Camels have been used by the Bedouin tribes and their predecessors for thousands of years as a mode of transport across the desert. During the times of the ancient Spice Route from what is now Saudi Arabia to port on the Mediterranean, camels were the primary source of transport and the result of their ability to walk 40km a day is visible through the Spice Route Cities which can be found in the Negev.
Inside a traditional Bedouin tent
Whilst many of Israel’s Bedouins today continue to live semi-nomadic lifestyles, most have moved beyond such traditional methods of transportation as camels. An important part of Bedouin tradition and culture however, camel rides are a fun activity at the heart of any Bedouin experience – great for families and a great memory of the desert which will stay with you for a long time. Read more about camel rides in Israel.
Bedouin cuisine is a variation of traditional Middle Eastern food, with meat and rice the primary ingredients. Much of this food is eaten using hands and provided in large sharing dishes in the center. Guests sit around on cushions or low chairs and share the experience under the blanket of the stars or the cover of a traditional Bedouin tent. Bedouin coffee is particularly famous, similar in many ways to the strong, bitter Arabic coffee which is found across the Middle East, whilst Bedouin tea is a unique blend of flavors created by mixing the leaves of native desert plants which grow naturally in the harsh desert conditions. Most of the Bedouin villages observe kashrut regulations.
Sleeping in Bedouin Tents
The ultimate Bedouin experience is, of course, sleeping in the famous Bedouin tents in the peaceful desert. This experience is becoming incredibly popular for groups visiting Israel, whilst the tents are also being used more and more for celebrations such as weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah tours, and birthdays.
Bedouin Experiences in Israel
There are a large number of centers in Israel offering authentic Bedouin hospitality experiences, here is a selection:
Kfar Hanokdim – located between Arad and Masada (not too far from the Dead Sea)