Last week, my friends and I decided to be spontaneous and take a bus to Arad for an overnight stay. Arad, located in the Judean Desert, is a small town about 30 minutes from Masada and 35 minutes from the Dead Sea. If you’re without a car, the best thing you can do in Arad is go out to the desert and enjoy the stunning sunrise over the Dead Sea. There’s not much to do in the town itself.
We searched for a cheap accommodation option and found Dead Sea Desert’s Edge. The place has private rooms, but we chose a mattress in the tent. It’s a medium-sized open tent located in the backyard of the host. The view is fantastic. The place has a weird vibe. Here’s my full review of Desert’s Edge.
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Short summary about Desert’s Edge
Location: 4 stars – The place is located at the edge of Arad, right next to the desert, so in terms of scenery and trails, it’s ideal. But if you’re not coming in a car, you will need to walk at least 20 minutes to reach the commercial center.
Cleanliness: 5 stars – It’s as clean as it can be. Remember that you’ll be camping in a tent. So, there will be dust.
Staff: 4 stars – We only met the owner, Gilly. He’s a friendly guy and likes to talk a lot. He showed us the tent and explained about the different facilities. When we came back at night, the house was dark and quiet. We wanted to ask something, but because no one was there, we managed on our own.
Security: 3 stars – There’s no real feeling of security. The tent is in the backyard of Gilly’s house, so I guess strangers won’t just come into the backyard. But there was no way to securely store our stuff, so we had to count on the people who slept there. Also, animals can come in the middle of the night and grab your stuff if you don’t put your food somewhere safe.
Facilities: 3 stars – The tent is well equipped with comfy mattresses, a mat, lights, and electricity plugs. It can get very crowded if there are 10 people in there, which was our situation. There’s a field kitchen with cooking utensils and even a potjiekos pot, but they don’t look very inviting, and some devices don’t work. There’s one restroom with a curtain and a shower completely open to the desert view, which could be a plus or a drawback.
Atmosphere: 5 stars – If there are young people staying in the tent, I think there could be a super cool atmosphere. The view and a place for a bonfire make it a cool place to stay. Unfortunately, we didn’t light the fire. When we stayed there, it was quiet and calm, which is also nice.
Value for money: 3 stars – Desert’s Edge is one of the cheapest options in Arad and provides the basic things you need for a night in the desert. We felt the price was a bit high for the value. After staying for free at Trail Angel houses on the Israel National Trail, we have higher expectations for paid places.
A detailed review of Desert’s Edge
The hostel is located at the desert’s edge, at the end of Lot Trail Street. It’s a residential house that was turned into an accommodation place. So, don’t feel uncomfortable knocking on the door or coming inside from the side of the building. The tent is located behind, in the backyard.
The location is great if you want to appreciate the beauty of the desert and enjoy a quiet stay. But if you don’t have a car, you will need to get ready to walk a lot back and forth. About 700 meters from the hostel, there’s an excellent restaurant called Pizza Kaparuchka, selling Italian dishes at around 50-60 shekels per dish. The closest grocery store is about 1.1 km away, next to Yehuda Street. The commercial center and the Arad Mall – a very basic mall – are located about 1.7 km away.
If you’re with a car, you can travel to Ein Bokek Beach at the Dead Sea, which is only about 35 minutes away. You can also drive to the western side of Masada, about 30 minutes away from Arad.
Desert’s Edge is located at Lot Trail 59, Arad.
The tent and common areas
The tent is a medium-sized open tent. There’s a top cover, which can be pulled down in winter when it’s cold and windy outside. When we stayed there, the tent was completely open.
There’s a mat that covers the entire area below the tent and there are comfy mattresses and pillows. If you want to cover the mattresses and pillows, you need to bring your own linen. It’s possible to pay 35 shekels and get linen from the host. We brought our own sleeping bags, and it was fine.
Outside the tent, there’s a view of the Judean Desert and the faraway Dead Sea. There are chairs, a table, a BBQ stand, and a place for a bonfire. I think it’s far enough from the tent to not bring smoke inside, but no one used it when we were there.
All around the property, there are also herbs that you can pick and use for tea.
Next to the tent, there’s a shared field kitchenette with a large sink and cooking utensils. The cooking utensils look a bit rusty, but you have everything you need there – pans, pots, plates, stirring spoons, and cutting boards. There’s even a pot for vegetarian potjiekos if you plan to make a bonfire. In the morning, we tried to use the gas stovetop but didn’t understand how to light it. I guess that the host could have helped if he was around.
Aside from all that, there’s also a small refrigerator where you can store your stuff.
Because it’s a “green space,” they ask not to bring plastic disposable plates and utensils. Also, they have different boxes for different types of garbage – plastic, glass, and organic waste. The host explained about the different boxes when we arrived, but they aren’t marked properly, so I forgot which one is which.
And last but not least, the most important item in the kitchenette is the closed chest, where the host asks to put your dry food items. “If you won’t put your food in the chest, animals will come here and take it,” he told us. We didn’t listen and had a bad experience at night. So… make sure to put your food there!
The shower and restroom
The unique thing about this place is the shower. There’s a wall of dry branches blocking the view of the shower from the tent area, but after you cross the wall, the whole desert lies before you. I mean, the shower is totally open to the desert view. You stand in the shower and look towards the desert hills.
My friend showered there and said that it was super cool. “You won’t always have such an opportunity,” she said. But I’m not sure everyone would like to shower outdoors and risk that someone will look at them from the desert. Also, I don’t know how people can shower there in winter when it’s freezing cold.
The restroom is also not so private. There’s only one restroom and there’s no door, only a curtain that flutters while you do what you do.
Before arriving at Desert’s Edge we sent a question to the property, and they answered quickly and in a friendly manner.
When we arrived, the only staff member we met was Gilly. He was super friendly. He shook our hands, asked us where we were from, and told us that he was very busy lately because he was running for the primary elections. Then, he showed us around the property, told us that they have a goat, and explained about the different facilities in the tent area.
When we asked him if our payment was accepted already or if we need to pay, he said that he doesn’t know. It seemed like he wasn’t too eager to settle the payment right away. Eventually, we paid him only after leaving the property.
During the stay itself, we barely saw him. When we came back late in the evening, the house looked deserted. In the morning, we met him outside the house, but only for a bit. He did send us a Whatsapp at some point during the night. So maybe if you need him, he’s available on Whatsapp.
The tent is located in the backyard of a residential house. There’s a side path that leads from the house’s gate directly to the backyard. So, hypothetically, if someone wanted to come and steal something, they could do it quite easily. Also, someone can come from the direction of the direction. But I guess that it’s not common.
Also, because there are no lockers or a safe place where you can keep your stuff, it’s not recommended to leave valuables around. You can never know who’s sleeping with you in the tent area. Though, when we were there, I accidentally left my sunglasses behind for a few hours and no one took them.
Another issue is leaving your food unattended and outside the closed chest that I mentioned before. We didn’t listen to the host who said that we should store our dry food in the chest. In the middle of the night, a hyena came and grabbed the bag in which we kept the food. It ran with it into the darkness and disappeared. Only in the morning, we went out to look for it in the desert surrounding the house. We found the bag a few meters away, completely torn and ruined, with all the food gone. So the conclusion is – put your dry food in the chest!
What to bring?
Here are some things you might want to bring when staying here:
- Sleeping bag. Make sure to bring a sleeping bag that matches the expected temperature at night. In the summer, it’s much warmer than in the winter.
- A quick-dry towel. The accommodation doesn’t provide towels for people who sleep in the tent. So, it’s best to come with your own. Buy this quick-dry towel on Amazon. Another option is to pay 10 shekels for a towel at the property.
- Ingredients for breakfast. The place offers a basic breakfast for 35 shekels per person and a bigger breakfast for 55 shekels per person. If you’re coming with more people, you can buy ingredients at lower rates, and make yourselves breakfast in the kitchenette.
Dead Sea Desert’s Edge is a special place, that offers camping facilities for those who want to experience the desert at night. It has a beautiful view, comfy mattresses, and a unique outdoor shower. But it’s not for everyone. So, come here only if you feel adventurous.
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I stayed at Desert’s Edge in August 2022 at my own expense and the review is %100 authentic.
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