(photo credit: MAAYAN HOFFMAN)
In the Kana’im Valley between Arad and Masada are a series of enchanting views and miles of hiking trails. And tucked away among the vastness and the beauty is a small haven of desert tranquility: Kfar Hanokdim.
Founded in 1991 by Yoram Roded, Kfar Hanokdim is inspired by the desert and the Bedouin who live there.
Nearly every aspect of the 12-acre site is handmade and/or built from local, natural materials, such as stones, wood and goat hair. Much of the plot was designed and built by Roded himself, including life-size hand-carved stone palm trees and water fountains. Over the years, the staff – many local Bedouin – have contributed, too.
“Yoram took his inspiration for the trees from the trees in the village,” explained media relations manager Joni Gritzner.
For years, the facility operated with just one pipe for running water and with electricity produced using generators, Gritzner said. But recently Kfar Hanokdim went from simply being part of the Tamar Regional Council to being under the auspices of Arad, and now all these services have been extended to the village.
Kfar Hanokdim is part of the Arad Tourism Association.
Kfar Hanokdim makes sense as a partner village to the small city of Arad, which has around 25,000 residents. The city brings together urban life and desert living, and has its own set of tourist sites, such as the Tel Arad National Park and trails of different levels for hiking, bicycle riding and jeep touring.
But nothing in Arad is comparable to the authenticity you’ll find in the wool blankets and tapestry-hung walls of Kfar Hanokdim. “Kfar” means village. “Nokdim” means shepherds.
“We have many requests from people who want to experience desert camping and sleeping close to nature,” Gritzner said, noting that the site provides that but in a more private and comfortable setting.
There are several types of rooms to choose from, including “tents” with mattresses that rest above the ground. These tents are built like traditional Bedouin tents, but inside it looks almost like a standard hotel room.
As Roded hired more staff, the employees began to create areas that fit the ambiance of Kfar Hanokdim but allowed them to share their expertise and passions.
The original Kfar Hanokdim was camel rides and desert hospitality – coffee, tea and tents. Today, it is a petting zoo, natural/healthy cooking workshops, yoga, drum circles, belly dancing, ecological classes that explain about the desert and how to make water and electricity naturally, and stargazing.
It is also warm evening bonfires and delicious, extravagant Bedouin feasts of pita, hummus, tehina, cherry tomatoes seasoned with fresh herbs, chopped salad, fried eggplant, homemade pickles, rice and roasted meats.
For families who keep Shabbat, it is advisable not to go on Saturday, as there is little to do, including not being able to take advantage of the marked trails. To explore the area, families generally download the Nokdim Hiking App, which the village created in Hebrew and English, and pick a path. The app allows novices to take on the Judean Desert and learn about its secrets.
Moreover, the app is not Wi-Fi dependent, something essential in the area, where one cannot expect to get connected to anything but nature.www.kfarhanokdim.co.il/en