A short-term visit to the Arava Institute can open your eyes to new possibilities and show the potential for cross-border environmental cooperation in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and the greater Middle East. While a sample itinerary for a 13-day tour is offered below, we customize our short-term program itineraries to meet the desires of each group, and pieces of this itinerary can be included or removed based on your desires.
Please note that all tours, events, hosts, and guest speakers are subject to availability.
For more information, please contact Avigail Ben Yohanan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Early morning Flight arrival
- Departure for Kibbutz Ketura and the Arava Institute, with stops and lunch along the way.
The Hidden Village of Wadi Aricha – meet with Salman Sadan
In the heart of the desert, the Bedouin village Wadi Aricha, called in Arabic Wadi Aricha, “hidden valley”, has recently opened its gates to visitors.
Through his unique life story, which began at the cliffs of Machtesh Ramon, Salman Sadan – a key figure in the village – introduces us to the Bedouin culture in Israel, past and present. The visit with Salman takes place in the intimacy of his family’s tent. The visit includes a traditional lunch and preparation of Libeh, bread baked in the fire.
Dr. Miri Lavi-Neeman
In addition, the group will meet with Arava Institute Faculty member Dr. Miri Lavi-Neeman. Miri’s scholarship draws on political ecology and historical political ecology, critical human geography, development theory, and critical ethnography to explore the relationships between Zionism, nature, environmentalism, and the working of late capitalism, in multiple sites and regions in Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East
Makhtesh Ramon/Ramon Crater overlook
Meet with Dr. Elli Groner, Research Director of the Dead Sea and Arava Science Center and previous Academic Director of the Arava Institute, to see the astounding beauty of Makhtesh Ramon and hear about the interesting community of Mitzpeh Ramon.
- Travel to Kibbutz Ketura
- Arrive to Ketura
- Dinner in the dining hall
- Overnight Ketura guest house
- Breakfast in the Dining Hall
Tour of Kibbutz Ketura
Welcome to Ketura! Ketura is a traditional kibbutz with a communal approach to decision-making, management, and property ownership. Ketura is the second largest Kibbutz in the Arava desert region, with over 150 members, 100 children and 100 other residents. Tour leaves from the dining room.
The Arava Institute – brief tour and meet with Deputy Director Eliza Mayo
The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is a leading environmental studies and research program in the Middle East. It houses academic programs in partnership with Ben Gurion University, research centers, and international cooperation initiatives focusing on a range of environmental concerns and challenges.
With a student body comprised of Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis, and students from around the world, the Arava Institute offers students an exceptional opportunity to learn from leading professionals while forming friendships and developing skills that enable them to lead the region and the world in solving today’s most pressing environmental challenges.
What’s it all about? Meet with Arava Institute interns
The Arava Institute is home to five transboundary research and development centers focusing on the areas of key environmental concern — water management, renewable energy and energy conservation, sustainable agriculture, ecology, and sustainable development. The research centers enable critical cross-border exchanges of knowledge and technology by providing young Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, and international researchers the opportunity to work together and advance solutions to the region’s pressing environmental issues.
- Lunch in the dining hall
Tour of Off Grid Village and interactive workshop
Living off-grid has a direct impact on quality of life and health and it is the most prominent indicator of the global injustice in the distribution of resources. In most of these cases, there is no future prospect of obtaining traditional grid connectivity. Consequently, there is a dire need to implement solid strategies and tools to deal with the implications of living off-grid. For these reasons the Off-Grid village was established, located in Kibbutz Ketura.
This village was founded to be a platform for technology companies, young entrepreneurs and others who are passionate about developing appropriate off-grid solutions. The village now serves as a place for experimentation and demonstration of solutions in a “natural environment”. More so, the village is enabling the wide exposure of these technologies, and is now becoming a showcase for aid organizations and companies who wish to take these innovative technologies into the field.
Peace Building and Leadership Seminar — The Arava Institute Experience
In line with the Arava Institute’s mission to generate capacity-building for conciliation and cooperation, all students and interns participate in a weekly Peace-building Leadership Seminar (PLS). In this seminar, students engage in dialogue exploring issues of culture, religion, identity, coexistence, and the current political situation, while developing competencies in intercultural understanding and empathy.
This session will include a brief explanation of the Peace-building Leadership Seminar at the Arava Institute and an introduction to the practice of Non-violent Communication. NVC can be seen as both a spiritual practice that helps us see our common humanity, using our power in a way that honors everyone’s needs, and a concrete set of skills which help us create life-serving relationships. Through the practice of NVC, we can learn to clarify what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling, what values we want to live by, and what we want to ask of ourselves and others.
- Dinner in the dining hall
- Breakfast in the dining hall
- Bike to the Experimental Orchards
Tour with Dr. Elaine Solowey
In 1975, Dr. Solowey established the Experimental Orchards. The orchards are the foundation for important new applications in botanical medicine, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture. Her work covers a wide range of subjects including the study of endangered medicinal herbs, the search for crops that can be grown in arid and saline soil, and the investigation into raising plants on marginal lands suitable for the production of ethanol for bio-fuel. In 2015 the orchards were recognized by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority as a Shelter Garden for Endangered Plant Species
- Bike 3 miles to Kibbutz Lotan
Visit the Lotan Center for Creative Ecology
The CFCE has developed and demonstrates permaculture design techniques in extreme desert conditions, natural building methods, local organic food systems, renewable energy, sustainable waste management and alternative technologies. Our mission is to serve as a catalyst to inspire, motivate and empower people to build sustainable community and to take creative action for positive change towards social and environmental justice.
- Lunch at the Lotan Tea House
- Bike 3 miles back to Kibbutz Ketura, return bikes
Introduction to the Center for Transboundary Water Management (CTWM)
With CTWM Director Dr. Clive Lipchin
CTWM provides a platform for regional water professionals and policy makers to cooperate in water conservation, desalination, wastewater treatment and education. The Center facilitates direct communication among regional water professionals in the three lower riparian states of the Jordan River and Dead Sea Basin (Israel, Palestine and Jordan). The open dialogue that is made possible by the center enables the flow of data and, most importantly, establishes long-lasting relationships built on trust and integrity between those who are responsible for the sustainable management of the region’s fragile water resources
Conflict Resolution Lessons from the Bible: Timeless lessons for today’s environmental challenges
Rabbi Michael Cohen: Director of Community Relations, Friends of the Arava Institute. This workshop will look at the intersection of some conflict resolution theories, the Bible and the environment.
- Dinner in the Dining Hall
- Evening debrief around campfire
- Breakfast in the dining hall
- Bus to Eilat, Israel (45 minute drive)
International Birdwatching and Research Center Eilat
Guided tour with park manager Noam Weiss
The birding park in Eilat was established in the early 1990’s by the “International Birdwatching and Research Center of Eilat” (IBRCE) foundation.
The park lies on what was once an industrial waste site and is an example of cooperation between the municipalities and the SPNI. Today the park is the center of the IBRCE and is one of the most unique and important birding sites in the country.
The IBRCE focuses on research and monitoring of migrant birds, eco-tourism activities and different bird related services for the local population.
The Coral Reefs of Eilat: Past, Present and Future – Guided snorkeling and lunch
The coral reefs in Eilat are among the northernmost coral reefs in the world, and so they contain many unique species, as well as others originating in the ocean that have acclimatized to local conditions in the Red Sea.
The reefs contain a variety of different habitats, together creating a complex and diverse ecosystem.
The purpose of the nature reserve is to prevent or reduce as far as possible the local disturbances caused by human activity, while allowing the public to enjoy nature without harming it.
Free late afternoon and evening in Eilat. Eilat is Israel’s southernmost city, lying on the Gulf of Aqaba, wedged between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
- Dinner on your own in Eilat
- Breakfast in the dining hall
Timna National Park
A behind the scenes look at Timna Valley and the environmental and political controversies that surround it, including meeting with local activist Yaniv Golan from Kibbutz Samar.
Begin the day at the present-day mines to see first-hand the “Dark Side” of Timna. Continue to Timna Valley to hike and see its natural wonders with Ketura’s own legendary tour guide Bill Slott.
End the morning at the Sasgon Valley to learn about the planned resort complex and its impact on the area.
- Lunch at Ketura
Afternoon Ketura Seminar
- Part One: Kibbutz Values in Practice with a focus on Environmental Issues in Ketura
- Part Two: Kibbutz Hospitality Circles
A chance to interact with several residents of Ketura – from the founders to our newest members
- Dinner in the dining hall
- Pack breakfasts for tomorrow
Campaigning for the environment in the Arava Valley
Presentation and continued discussion with Yaniv Golan
- Bus leaves for the Dead Sea
Human Beings and the Dead Sea Environment
Full day tour with the legendary geologist and biologist Eli Raz. Eli has done extensive research on the formation of sinkholes and the Dead Sea region. Our stops will include discussion of heavy industry and rapid evaporation of the Dead Sea, Dead Sea sinkholes, the controversial Red-Dead Canal. We will also stop near the famed fortress of Masada and at the Ein Gedi synagogue to explore ancient settlement in the region.
- During the day: float in the Dead Sea! Towels will be provided
- Lunch at Kibbutz Ein Gedi
- Bus departs for Auja Eco-Center
Overnight in the Auja Eco-Center, a Palestinian Eco-Center and guest house on the outskirts of Jericho, in the Jordan Valley. The center works to protect the landscape and support local Palestinians through environmental education and eco-tourism.
- Dinner with traditional foods
Evening: Presentation about water issues and the environmental situation in the Jordan Valley
- Breakfast in the tent
- Short tour outside the center to see the environmental educational stations
- Jordan Valley tour
- Visit the Baptism site at the Jordan River
- Lunch at Auja Eco-Center
- Cleaning campaign at Auja Spring
- Departure from Auja
- Travel to Jerusalem
- Check-in to the Post Hostel in downtown Jerusalem
- Dinner at the Post Hostel
- Free evening in Jerusalem
Old City Dual Narratives Tour: Political Ecology and Sacred Space
Visit sites holy to the three monotheistic religions, including Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount; Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Via Dolorosa, the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Quarters.
- Lunch in the Old City and free time
- Finish the day on the Mount of Olives – The East West Jerusalem Divide
- Afternoon de-brief
- Dinner on your own and free evening in Jerusalem
Urban space and the Jerusalem Challenge: Meeting with Naomi Tsur
Naomi Tsur is the initiating founder of the Jerusalem Green Fund. After 12 years as Director of the Society for the Protection of Nature and Coordinator of the Sustainable Jerusalem Coalition, she served for 5 years as Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem (2008-2013). Under Naomi’s leadership, the Gazelle Valley, originally a real-estate project, became Israel’s first Urban Nature Park and the abandoned eight kilometers of the Old Railway track between Malha and the First Station evolved into the much-loved Railway Park. Naomi opened up municipal committees to the public and also created new frameworks for civic engagement in urban planning and policy. Naomi currently chairs the Israel Urban Forum.
- Bus leaves from Post hostel
Meet with Arava Institute interns to learn in depth about Agricultural Water issues in the Palestinian Authority
Mohammad is working on the setting up of an agricultural cooperative between the Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqin and the Israeli town of Tsur Hadassah, which border one another. His activities include researching agricultural cooperatives, assessing the water and crop needs of Palestinian farmers of Wadi Fuqin, providing projects for the farmers to improve the quality of their crops; and surveying the willingness of both Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate on this project.
Visit Wadi Fuqin spring, the village’s main water source; walk to an observation point to see Beitar Illit settlement and its impact on the valley; visit Ein Atina and agricultural fields; visit Ein Mthiq to see recreational park. Traditional meal provided by local families (outside – weather permitting).
Dual Narratives: Viewpoint over Bethlehem
Discussion of geo-politics of the Jerusalem area
Introduction to Areas A, B, and C as created by the Oslo Accords. Explore urban planning (or non planning) of the areas and its effect on the people and environment. Understanding the landscape- the unique criteria and the challenges. From the overlook we see Bethlehem and the area, Jewish settlement, the separation barrier/ wall and more.
- Dinner at the Post Hostel
- Evening de-brief
- Drive up the Jordan Valley
Situated on the banks of the Jordan River, Yardenit is at the Southern tip of the Sea of Galilee
Walk along the Jordan river from the point it exits the sea of Galilee- see the dam blocking the lake. See the Jordan river where there is still full of fresh water and walk south to see the change in the water component and the result on the surrounding habitat. What are the alternatives to this situation?
- Pre-ordered lunch on the way
Gamla Nature Reserve
The splendid landscape of Gamla Nature Reserve contains a host of animals and many well-preserved remnants of the past. The reserve boasts both a phenomenal concentration of birds of prey, some of them rare, living in a relatively small area, and the earliest known synagogue in the world. Scores of pairs of Griffon vultures nest on the cliffs, making up the largest flock of Griffon vultures in Israel. In the morning, the birds fly off and in the afternoon they return to their nests, flying directly overhead. The vulture population can be observed from a special birdwatching point on the north bank of Nahal Gamla.
Another observation terrace overlooks the 50-meter Gamla Fall, the highest perennial waterfall in Israel. En route to the fall visitors will pass the field of dolmens. Built of massive basalt rocks, placed together to form rectangles with one short side open, dolmens served as graves for nomads who lived in the Golan Heights four millennia ago.
Har Bental and the Valley of Tears
Discover the history of the Golan Heights, learn about volcanoes and geology, see the active wind turbines and get a glimpse into the complicated geo-politics of the region. Har (Mount) Bental, an inactive volcano, is located in the Golan Heights near Kibbutz Merom Hagolan. The expansive panoramic view at the summit provides an excellent observation point overlooking valleys and parts of the Golan and Hermon, spreading from Israel into Syria.
- Arrive Imar Guest House in the Druze village of Bukata for dinner, evening program and overnight accommodation
There are 20,000 Druze currently living in the Golan Heights. They follow a secretive offshoot of Islam whose adherents live primarily in Syria, Israel, Lebanon and Jordan. Over the centuries, they have tried to keep to themselves, offering allegiance to whomever was in control of the lands in which they live.
The four main Druze villages in the Israeli-held Golan are Majdal Shams, Masadeh, Bukata and Ein Qiniya.
- Travel to Hula Valley via Lebanese border
Hula Lake Park Bike Ride
The place to watch thousands of migratory birds and birds of Israel!
In the Hula Valley in the Upper Galilee, KKL-JNF has developed an internationally acclaimed bird watching park. Twice a year, no less than 390 species of birds pass through the area; water fowl, birds of prey and songbirds, water buffaloes and wildcats, unique flora and fauna. Over 500 million birds pass through Hula Valley each year.
- Travel to Upper Galilee
Sindyanna of Galilee is a female-led non-profit that actively promotes the concepts of “business for peace” and Fair Trade in Israel. Sindyanna sells Arab producers’ olive oil and other premium products in the international marketplace according to Fair Trade principles, and then channels all of the profits back into Arab women’s education.
- Local lunch at Sindyanna
Zippori – The Ornament of the Galilee
Zippori is located in the lower Galilee, halfway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee. The historian Josephus described it as “the ornament of all Galilee” and it was the administrative capital of the Galilee in the 1st century. It features an impressive archeology site dating back to the Hasmoneans who settled there in the 2nd century BC, as well as subsequent Byzantine, Arab, and Crusader ruins. The name comes from the Hebrew word tsipor which means “bird,” presumably for the birds-eye view afforded from its hill. The Arab village of Saffuriyeh was originally built by the Mamluks in the 14th century on the ruins of the Crusader town, on the ruins of the Byzantine, on the Roman/Jewish ruins. It maintained remnants of its original Jewish name Zippori, via the Greek name Sepphoris. An opportunity to talk about archeological layers of history in landscape.
Nazareth overnight at Fauzi Azar Inn, on the path of the popular Jesus Trail. Once the home of the Azar family, the mansion was built in 1830 and converted into a guesthouse in 2005.
- Drive to Haifa
Meet with Dr. Daniel Orenstein at the Technion, Haifa
Daniel is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Daniel’s research program explores the complexity of socio-ecological systems though ecosystem service assessment (particularly cultural services) and the study of science-policy discourse with a goal of improving environmental policy in the face of rapidly intensifying challenges and ecological change. His research utilizes diverse methodologies derived from the social sciences, including interviews, surveys, focus group discussions and historical analysis to define how values, culture, socio-demographics and history affect human perceptions of their environment.
The city of Haifa boasts some of the most picturesque views in Israel. It sits on the slopes of Mount Carmel overlooking the Haifa Port, oil refineries, and chemical plants, and a Mediterranean beach strip.
- Lunch on your own in central Haifa
Carmel Forest Fires 2010 and 2016
The 2010 Mount Carmel forest fire was a deadly forest fire that started on Mount Carmel in northern Israel, just south of Haifa. The fire began 2 December 2010, and spread quickly, consuming much of the Mediterranean forest covering the region. The fire claimed 44 lives, making it the deadliest in Israeli history. The dead were mostly Israel Prison Service officer cadets, as well as three senior police officers, among them the chief of Haifa’s police. More than 17,000 people were evacuated, including several villages in the vicinity of the fire, and there was considerable property and environmental damage.
In November 2016 a wave of fires across Israel began. Some of the fires occurred naturally; others were arson attacks. The largest fire occurred in Haifa, where 527 apartments were destroyed completely and 75,000 residents, about a quarter of the city’s population, were evacuated from 11 neighborhoods
Wrap up meeting with Dr. Alon Tal at Tel Aviv University
Alon Tal is a leading Israeli environmental activist and academic. He is the founder of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, co-founder of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, co-founder of Ecopeace Middle East, and co-founder of the Green Movement political party. He is the newly appointed chair of the department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University.
- Travel to Abraham Hostel
- Evening de-brief
- Dinner on your own plus free evening in Tel Aviv
- Breakfast and check out of 3 dorm rooms.
- (One dorm room available for storage and showers all day)
- Walking tour of Tel Aviv: The Hebrew Garden City
- Lunch on your own plus free afternoon in Tel Aviv
- Dinner at the Abraham Hostel – please be on time!
- Bus departs Abraham Hostel for airport
- Late night departure from Ben Gurion Airport