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- When would be the best time to come on a tour?
- What is included on your trip?
- What is excluded?
- What is a typical day like?
- How many species am I likely to see?
- Will I keep up the pace of the tour?
- What do I need to bring with me?
- Do I need any special clothing?
- Can we have a private tour?
- Where is Kibbutz Lotan Centre for Birdwatching?
- What is the accommodation like?
- How about the food?
- Do you offer self-guided tours?
- How do I keep in touch with friends and relatives
while on tour?
What would be the best time to come on a tour?
Migration is an ever-changing thing. The peak is the last two weeks in March, and the very beginning of April, although other times are also very productive. At the peak, there will of course be a lot of other birders out, and outside of it, we will have the area pretty much to ourselves. Even in the middle of the winter there is enough to see here in the area, outside the “proper” migratory season, with wintering birds that have come. The fall also is very attractive, without incredibly hot temperatures, as in the summer. Of course, a lot of the birds will have worn plumages, bringing its own identification challenges.
What is included in the trip?
A day-tour can be done in your vehicle, or in our off-road air-conditioned vehicle at an additional charge. It covers guiding at the hotspots a 50 kilometer radius from Lotan.
We do not include any night excursions with additional
local guides because of the sensitive nature of the species involved.
However, we are happy to arrange these trips for you, and have good
relationships with the guides. Personal items such as beer, wine,
and beverages (outside of meals) are also not included.
Most days begin early, soon after first light.
Guests take their breakfast around 8 :00, usually in the Kibbutz
dining room, but sometimes in the field. More often than not, we
return to the Kibbutz at lunchtime, and take a siesta after our
meal if it is very hot. We are back out in the cool of the afternoon
and usually bird through to dusk, returning home in plenty of time
for a shower before supper.
The species tally will vary with the season and
the tour program. We have had days with over 50 species in one day, a multi-day tour will of course yield more than that. After four days, you will have racked up over 100 species, depending of course on the season, and the annual vagaries of migration.
You set the pace! Our trips are not designed to be a hectic scorch
across Israel, collecting as many species as possible. We
are much more interested in showing you all the birds at a comfortable
pace. We place a great deal of emphasis in helping your with identification,
and would hope that you get much more out of your trip than ‘just’
a big list. We are confident that you will find our trips rewarding
in all respects.
Primarily, you will need a good pair of binoculars. A good rule of thumb is a magnification ratio to lens size of 1:4 to 1:5. This means a pair of binoculars like 8×40, 10×42, 10×50 and the like. Small binoculars like 10×25 put more stress on your eyes and are less suited. A telescope is certainly useful in many situations in Israel, but
not essential as all our leaders carry scopes in the field. However,
if you do own a scope, we recommended that you bring it, along with
a stable tripod, as the wind can be quite strong. The best field
guides for the region are the recently published Collins Bird Guide, 2nd edition: the most complete guide to the birds of Britain and Europe, ISBN 978-0-00-726814-6,
(by Svensson, Mullarney, Zetterstrom.);
The Birds of Europe published by Helm (by Lars Jonsonn);
and, Birds of the Middle East published by Poyser (by Porter,
Langman, Birch, Gayle et al.). A special guide on some difficult
Middle Eastern Groups is also available: “The Macmillan Guide to
Middle Eastern Birds”, by Shirihai, Harris and Christie.
Weather in spring, autumn and winter can be unpredictable,
and it can rain. Even in mid-winter the midday temperatures can
be quite hot, while the evenings are often cool and we would therefore
recommend a variety of garments. We also recommend gloves for higher
elevations in winter in Northern Israel where it may snow.Throughout
the country, the sun is often very strong, and we try to find shade
wherever possible. However, we recommend sunscreen, a water bottle,
a hat, and sunglasses for your daily preparations for the field.
Biting insects are few, but can be found around some wetland areas.
A good insect repellent can also be useful.
Yes, all our tours are private tours and these can be arranged for groups of friends,
bird clubs and tour companies. Single clients with specific target
species in mind can also have a private tour.
Lotan is about 52 Km north of Eilat and 11 Km
north of Yotvata. You can locate us easily on the map, just east
of the main junction between Routes 90 and 40. Our strategic position
gives great access to all major sites in the southern deserts, plus
we are only 20 minutes north-east of Ovda International Airport.
Throughout our tours, we use comfortable Kibbutz
guesthouses. The standard varies between locations, but in all cases,
it is good, comfortable, well appointed with en-suite facilities.
All rooms are equipped with air conditioning units,
and most are appointed with tea and coffee making facilities, and a fridge.
Israel is full of fresh, healthy produce
and an excellent variety of meat and vegetarian meals. Indeed, vegetarians
are especially well catered for because of the Kosher eating practices
of the various accommodation establishments that we use. In most
cases, we can deal with specific dietary requirements with due notice.
The meals are usually buffet-style with plenty of choice.
Certainly, our facilities are open year round
for those keen on self-guided tours. We are available to recommend sights based on information that we receive from our network of bird watchers in the field. For others anticipating a more relaxed approach, our swimming pool is usually open from mid-april
to mid-October. When staying at Lotan, we offer a free ecological tour.
Problem solved. There is free Wifi access outside the tourism office.