Kibbutz Lotan: Community and values

Lotan from aboveKibbutz Lotan nestles amidst the beauty of the sun drenched Arava Valley in southern Israel, home to stunning desert birds such as the Little Green Bee-eater and Hooded Wheatear. Here the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa converge,  forming a natural land bridge that sees literally hundreds of millions of migrants each year. In the heart of it all, the tiny community of Kibbutz Lotan has become recognized not only as an 'oasis’ like migrant hotspot, but also an ideal facility committed to the enjoyment of desert birding, offering a diverse range of services.

Formed in 1983 by settlement groups of Israelis, Britons and Americans, Lotan is one of the youngest Kibbutzim in Israel. Its population is small, made up mainly of young families and members of volunteer groups. Almost all share an interest in nature, and enjoy dwelling in the beauty of their desert home. About 160 people live on Lotan for much of the year.

Kibbutz Lotan derive its income from various agricultural branches such as the dairy barn, field crops and date plantation. There is of course an increasingly successful tourism branch, and holistic health centre.

The support for birding tours on Lotan stems from their strong links with nature, along with a strengthening ecological direction that has brought the Kibbutz a good deal of positive publicity. The eco-projects go hand in hand with our birding, and both have been important in the successful development of our very own bird reserve.

The year 2000 marks a turning point in Lotan's young history as a birding centre. From humble beginnings in 1995, we now host well over several hundred birders each year. Our bird reserve now has three observation hides with drinking pools, 5and attracts some very exciting migrants. Here we will be concentrating efforts for our brand new ringing station, managed by a team of professional ringers to ensure the best possible handling of the vast numbers of migrant birds passing through our area each year. Importantly, our birding tours cover the length and breadth of the country, and we have developed an especially successful itinerary for Northern Israel.

Our local area

metamorphic, primary and sedimentary rockhe geology of the Eilot region is unique consisting of a jumble of metamorphic, primary and sedimentary rock formations. Here the Arava Valley lies on a fault line, sandwiched between African and Eurasian continents, and is part of the great Syrian - African rift valley, composed of a series of giant cracks in the earth's crust. The area is extremely arid consisting of fragile desert eco-systems adapted to extreme temperatures and low humidity. The average annual rainfall is very low, often less than 25 mm. In winter and early spring, temperatures are pleasant, rarely topping 25 deg. C. From late March, it can be hot, sometimes over 35 deg. C at midday, and by May until mid-September, it is usually very hot. It does become cooler from mid-October and November is usually a very pleasant month.

Nubian IbexClose to Lotan, we have several large Acacia waddies providing food, shelter and all-important shade for many desert species. The plants of the region belong to two main groups of desert species typical of the Saharan-Arabian Desert and tropical African species associated with moisture along the rift valley. Here some of the classic desert mammals such as Dorcas Gazelle and Nubian Ibex can be seen, but a little more luck is required to find wolf or Striped Hyena, though both of the latter are not uncommon, but mostly nocturnal.

One can enjoy close up views of these and other mammals that used to inhabit our region at the Hai-Bar Biblical Nature reserve, just a ten-minute drive from Lotan. Further south, a magnificent geological national park at Timna gives a fascinating insight into life in the Arava thousands years ago, including the oldest known copper mines in the world. There are also several ancient Chalcolithic sites in our region, demonstrating agriculture in the desert that existed up to 6000 years ago. We have a fully qualified tour guide on site with in depth knowledge in all these fields for those wanting to find out more about this fascinating region.

Finally, a snorkelling break in the Red Sea is a treat not to be missed, provided you have time at the end of your trip. We would recommend the Almogim Nature reserve, where the coral reefs are preserved. Here you may hire snorkelling equipment to enjoy the breathtaking array of marine life, and just relax on the beach. The Underwater Museum and Aquarium are located near the nature reserve.

Contact info

Daphna Abell
Program Coordinator

Tel: +972 8 6356935;
Toll Free: 1800 2000 75 (when in Israel)

© Copyright 2002-2005 [Kibbutz Lotan Center for Ecotourism and Creative Ecology]. All rights reserved.