From the 6th to the 8th of december we had our Negev Seminar where we spent three days in the Negev desert. We were all very excited because it is one of the most popular study trips of the year! It was one of the best trips that I got to experience so far. Let me tell you what we did during our three days in the Negev:
We woke up at 5.30 am to get some breakfast and started to load the bus at around 6 am. The days before we had already prepared most of the stuff we had to bring to the desert such as enough food, water, mattresses, cooking supplies etc. At 6.30am our journey to the Negev could finally begin! We drove around four hours to the south to Avdat, a site of a ruined Nabataean city. Our guide Youssef told ous that it was the most important city in the Incense Route after Petra. We walked to the top of the temple of Oboda where we had an amazing overview of Avdat. It was so awesome and strange to only see the desert and nothing else. After that we visited the Bedouin Settlement near Avdat. It was so interesting to see and to learn about their different way of living. We all sat in a tent where Youssef explained the Beduin lifestyle to us. He had lived with the Beduins for some time before, that´s why he could tell us some details about their daily life and also their struggles nowadays. We also were welcomed with tea from Sri-Lanka which was very nice. We then had some time to walk around and take lots of pictures with the dromedars and the donkey 😀 Our last stop before we got to our sleeping place was the Ammonite wall where we also got to see the sunset. As we arrived we quickly set up the matrasses, made the campfire and prepared our food because it was getting dark very fast. We enjoyed our first evening at the campfire but went to sleep pretty early because we had a long day ahead of us. It was also VERY cold so I slept with two sweaters, my sleeping bag and a big blanket. It was amazing to just look up and see the stars. That´s why we called our sleeping place the “one million star hotel”.
We all got up at 5am and left an hour later to hour next destination: Har Ardon. Our bus dropped us off in the middle of the desert where we started hiking the Har Ardon, then the Givat Harut and the Nachal Ardon. All in all it was an amazing experience (Although it was also challenging to hike for about 7 hours because I also caught a cold over the night). As we got to the top of the mountains, we enjoyed our view and also the silence because we were the only people up there. I also felt so overwhelmed because everything seemed so small compared to the endless desert. Before it got dark we drove to the same sleeping place and set up everything for the night again. For every night we had prepared a schedule for the nightshifts. Every hour two volunteers had to be awake and check if everything (especially the fire) was okay. My night shift was from 4am to 5am so I also prepared the breakfast in that time. Altogether this day was one of the best days I ever had.
On our last day in the Negev we visited a National Park near the grave of Ben Gurion the primary founder and also the first priminister of the State of Israel. We later went to the grave itself and learned about Ben Gurions importance and contributions to Israel. After that we visited Makhtesh Gadol where we could see petrified trees, fossilized corals and also a place where there was different colored sand. After our short hikes through Makhtesh Gadol we drove to the Dead Sea where our journey through the Negev was going to end. Although the water in the Dead Sea was surprisingly cold I really enjoyed swimming in it because it was so weird not to sink and just float ( just like a fat hippo haha).
The Negev Seminar was truly one of the best experiences of my life and I hope that I can come back soon! Some of the pictures above are from Naomi. She is also a volunteer here in Nes Ammim and also writing a blog if you want to check it out 🙂 https://myownshalom.wordpress.com/author/myownshalom/