We were looking for inexpensive accommodation for a weekend away, and Chai Negev at Revivim, which opened in 2003, suited us perfectly. The site offers ecologically constructed accommodation, ranging from group tents and mud brick houses, to the more conventional guesthouses (our choice!), and it was all surrounded by a zoo!
At Chai Negev the goal is to bring children closer to the natural world around them in a way that is direct and enjoyable, in order to raise their awareness of their environment and heighten their sensitivity to what goes on in it. The site is home to a variety of desert animals raised in special breeding centres, in conditions resembling their natural habitat. Though I can't say that I particularly enjoy seeing animals in cages, coyotes, foxes and baboons were situated right next to our room and they seemed active and happy. My youngest son woke early in the morning and I saw him creep out to go and see the monkeys and say good morning the hens! A waterfowl lake, alpaca, sheep and more were also nearby.Bedouin-style pita bread, rolled by the kids and baked in an outdoor oven while we waited, accompanied by olives, sliced raw vegetables, labneh with olive oil and za'atar (hyssop), and a hot drink. Delicious!
The cactus garden at Revivim was established in the 1990's on an area of land next to Chai Bar, at the side of the kibbutz. Most of the plants there were brought from different nurseries, while some were developed from seeds. The boys and I had a good time exploring the garden, looking at all the different cacti and succulent plants.
It certainly didn't have a five star rating, but Chai Negev was most definitely a quirky and unusual place to stay! It had a certain appeal to it, and frankly my youngest son, who loves animals and being outdoors, thought that he was in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden). I simply enjoyed being in a fun place. It always amazes me how close we live to the desert. It was wonderful to take advantage of it.