What is the difference between the "Bedouin Camp" and Bivouac Camping?

I sometimes get asked by people what is the difference between the two accommodation options we offer:

Our "Bedouin Camp" and Bivouac Camping...

In this post I aim to simplify and make clear the key points that will help you differentiate, compare and decide which option is best for you:

Bedouin Directions Bedouin Camp

Taken by Sagi Mihaly

Taken by Sagi Mihaly

  • The camp is made up of permanent structures. Bedouin Goat Hair Tents, a simple bathroom, and a small kitchen.
  • There is running water in the bathroom. Washbasins, two western toilets and two showers (not power showers).
  • There is limited electricity. We have a simple solar power circuit which provides lights to some of the tents, the bathroom and a charging station for phones and camera batteries. A flashlight and torch should still be considered a necessity, but the lights and charging facilities are there as much as possible.
  • You sleep in a Bedouin Goat Hair tent. Beds, mattresses and pillows are provided.
  • You can sleep outside at the camp if you wish for no extra charge. Simply take your mattresses and blankets outside. We ask you to take them back to your tent in the morning.
  • There may or may not be other guests at the camp, depending how busy we are and the time of year you visit (high season is March - May and Sept-November with a peak again over the last two weeks of December).
  • The camp is in a quiet location to the South of El Qattar Jebel in the white desert. The camp is located in a secret Bedouin hideaway. The camp location is itself a natural feature of the desert.
  • The camp is in a good area for walking, and can potentially be used as a excellent base for people who like to walk independently.
  • There is a social tent to spend time together during the evenings. We make a fire (not always in summer, too hot). We play Bedouin games.
  • Dinner is served as a selection of dishes. Along with a stew, rice, bread and salads, Zaarb is usually served. Zaarb is a underground Bedouin barbecue crossed with an oven. This is only available at the permanent camp. Special diets can be catered to.

Bivouac Camping

  • There are no tents used, and no other permanent camps close by. You spend the night in a quiet area of Wadi Rum away from any permanent structures or touristic Bedouin tent accommodation.
  • There is no bathroom and no running water. We provide bottled water for drinking and water in Jerry cans for hand/ face washing.
  • There is no electricity. Only candle light, fire light and your own flashlight/ torch. There is no place to charge batteries or phones.
  • You sleep in the open, under the stars. Mattresses are provided to be used on the ground. Blankets are also provided. You are more exposed so the weather will affect you more.
  • The Bivouac Camping is a private experience. Just you and your Bedouin Guide. Unless you specifically book to join a group on a shared tour who are Bivouac camping.
  • There are many locations where we do the Bivouac Camping. Our favourite places are at Um Muqur and Um Ad Dami, but we use other places as well. The place is chosen depending on the program you are doing with the Bivouac camping. All of the locations are quiet and in beautiful surroundings.
  • You spend the evening around the fire, with your Bedouin guide. There is time to walk around, watch the stars, take pictures, spot shooting stars, tell stories. In short spend quality time with the people you are travelling with and your guide.
  • Dinner is prepared on the fire by your Bedouin guide. This is a good experience and a insight into Bedouin life. In the past meals would always be prepared on the fire as there was no other means to cook. When cooking on the fire there are some limitations so one cooked dish is usually served. Vegetarians can be catered for but if you are a small group or couple we would just prepare one meal (vegetarian). A larger group we would prepare two dishes (vegetarian and non vegetarian). 
I hope this article will help those who are not familiar with the term "Bivouac" and those people trying to decide which option is best for them.