Nothing beats the humbling experience of spending the night in a lone farm right in the middle of the expansive desert. Here are some suggestions
The Negev, Israel’s desert region, is a primal land yearning to be explored by hikers, nature lovers and anyone seeking the authentic Israel experience. It is also home for the Solitary Farms, farmsteads removed from populated areas, specializing in various produce, dairy products and kind hospitality. Take a look at some of our recommended farms for a visit or overnight stay.
When you think of Israel, two things come to mind: Holy sites and desert. Lots and lots of desert. The Negev covers 55% of the country, and it only makes sense that the harsh living conditions mean that it’s not densely populated. Some find blessing in this respite from the hustle and bustle of modern life, in the form of a unique phenomenon: Solitary Farms, sometimes known as Lone Farms. Removed from populated settlements, these farms are run by true pioneers, intent on developing the region’s tourist and agriculture industries while still maintaining a life close to the primal nature. Some 100 such farms are spread out throughout the region.
So what exactly do these farms offer, aside from vast open spaces and some time away from it all? Plenty, it turns out. Wine is one of the main produce, thanks to the desert soil and dry climate which are a treasured resource for a surprising variety of grapes – Verdot, Chardonnay, Bordeaux, and many, many more. Dairy products are another common good, primarily goats’ milk cheese and yogurt, courtesy of the prospering sheep and goat population who appears to favor the desert despite its modest offerings.
You should not be put off by the word “solitary”; being far out in the desert does not mean you have to give up modern comfort. The Solitary Farms offer high-end accommodations for solo travelers, couples and families.
You can already guess who runs the show here. Alpacas, llamas, horses and angora goats will be your hosts in this lovely farm which offers shared and private accommodations as well as horseback riding, guided hiking and various workshops for all ages. Warm up on cool desert nights with the farm’s locally knitted alpaca wool hats and scarves.
Ceramics and olive oil are the stars of this just north of Mitzpeh Ramon. Visitors are welcome to stay in one of the four fully-furnished cabins or opt for a camping experience in a shared tent. Solitary campers can also set up shop here and enjoy the facilities. Whether you’re here for the night or just passing through, don’t miss out on the quaint studio where farm owner Judith offers mosaic, stained glass and painted wood works as well as workshops for art lovers. The farm is well known for its high quality olive oil, and visitors are encouraged to take a tour of the oil mill.
Shirat Hamidbar Farm specializes in herbs, medicinal plants and perfumes and essential oils. Specialty tours follow the history of wonderful plants and their benefits. Essential oil making workshops are also available, as well as the very first desert scavenger hunt game. The farm is a great set off point for hikes, bicycle trips and ATV tours, all of which can be arranged by the hosts.
When it comes to desert fruit, look no further. This farm features olives, dates, pomegranates and a variety of herbs. Overnight stays are available in either a hut (there’s only one), or at the farm’s organized campground situated in a eucalyptus grove.
Located a short drive from the ancient Nabbatean settlement of Avdat, Orlyya Farm is the perfect romantic getaway for lovers of quiet and solitude. The farm relies on agriculture, particularly cultivating oil from the Argan tree – a great flavor enhancer in countless dishes and a wonderful ingredient for cosmetics. Orlyya farm offers agricultural tours focusing on ancient techniques, as well as holistic body treatments such as shiatsu, reflexology and Swedish massage.