The ultimate “eco-kibbutz” is Lotan, situated in the arid Arava desert, 51km north of the Red Sea resort town of Eilat. Guests can sleep in mud houses and learn about permaculture, sustainable building and geodesic domes on a four-week to four-month English-language “Green Apprenticeship”. The kibbutz, set against the backdrop of the red Edom Mountains and the golden sand dunes of the Jordanian border, is a great place to watch birds migrating to and from Africa by day and gaze at the stars by night.
“People are inspired when they see what we’ve done under tough conditions,” said programme director Mark Naveh, who has lived on the kibbutz since 1989. “Lotan is the only kibbutz that is part of the global eco-village network. I believe it’s a model for sustainable existence, which is going to become more and more necessary as time goes on.”
Lotan is also one of just 20% of kibbutzim in Israel that is still a fully co-operative, income-sharing community. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the manager of the dairy or taking care of the kids or working in the kitchen, everyone gets the same allowance,” he explained.