"And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at Ein Gedi".
-Samuel 23 29.
A beautiful Oasis located in a deep gorge with waterfalls, pools and a lot of green vegetation in the middle of the desert. Together with ancient archaeological sites and one big mystery...
The site has 4 big springs that make the streams and the pools filled with water the whole year unlike other places in the desert. This unique feature made this place a center for life for both animals and humans throughout history.
How to get to Ein Gedi?
Like most of the sites of the Judean Desert, it is located on the famous road 90. On the southern part of the Dead Sea.
Bus- best will be to take a bus from Jerusalem. you can check here.
ask the driver to get off at the nature reserve, not at the Kibbutz.
The site contains an archaeological site of Chalcolithic Temple dated to 3500 BCE and a more "modern" site of a synagogue from the 3rd century. The synagogue has some beautiful mosaics, a list of the Hebrew months, all kind of blessings, swastika….wait, what?! Well yes, Apparently this symbol was used in synagogues of the time. the symbol was also found in few synagogues in northern Israel.
But what makes the synagogue more special is the curse. There is a long inscription that describes the norms of behavior in the little town. Besides the usual stuff, there's is an add-on of a curse on the one who will reveal the town secret. The town secret was making a special high-value perfume and oil from one of the plants in the area. A product that was famous in the ancient world and the most expensive oil you could get.
It was used in the temple and it was desired by the elite of the ancient world. With the time and the wars in the area, the secret of the production was lost and also the identification of the specific plant.
Today there are researchers who try to investigate and identify the plant and the product. There is even a farm of people who claim they managed to identify the plant.
Hiking in Ein Gedi
A song praising the beauty and the calmness of the place written by a 16 old boy while sitting in the reserve. became a great hit in the 60's and since was performed by all the great artists of Israel. the lyrics are amazing in Hebrew:
Wildlife and Flora
The nature reserve has many trails and paths that suit for all. From a couple of hours hike between waterfalls and pools to a whole day climbing the ridge to beautiful lookouts. All over the reserve, you will see ibexes and rock hyraxes. In the past, there were also leopards in the reserve but now they are extinct. The last one was seen in 2007 in Kibbutz Ein Gedi, skinny and sick as he broke into a house tried to eat the family dog.
Reserve info, prices and opening hours.
Reserve map. you'll get one like this at the entrance.
The Reserve has 2 streams:
The more famous and touristic stream, most popular hike in Ein Gedi. The bottom part is very touristic and the trails are very easy and accessible.
The Window Waterfall
My favorite part in this Wadi is the 'window waterfall'. It’s a challenging part, walking in a narrow gorge with pools using fixed metal handles the reserve installed to help you pass through those challenging parts.
The red trail goes there and right before it meets the green trail you can see a none color trail which leads to the 'window waterfall'. Ask the rangers on the reserve for more details.
The Less touristic hike in Ein Gedi, more challenging. The pools here are bigger and more suitable for a swim. if you start early I recommend going to one of the views on the top of the ridge.
NOTE: the reserve is highly maintained and has strict rules. Because of the wildlife in the area, there are opening hours for the reserve which changes between summer and winter. Consult with the rangers at the entrance about hiking in Ein Gedi depends on the time you have, fitness and conditions in the reserve.