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The Ein Gedi Oasis from Above and Inside

The Ein Gedi oasis is located at the foot of the Judean Desert fault cliff, between the ridge and the Dead Sea. It consists of four major fresh-water springs supplying 3 million cubic meters of water a year, forming the contrast between the lush oasis and the dry desert surrounding it. The combination of the hot temperatures and the abundance of water create perfect conditions for semi-tropical plants that grow here naturally. The water and the vegetation attract many species of vegetarian animals as the Nubian Ibex and the Rock Hyrax, that themselves attract the predators, as the Wolf and the Fox, and until 2006 there were even leopards around! Since ancient times man was aware of the advantages of Ein Gedi, and some archaeological remains date back to the Chalcolithic Period, some 6000 years ago. During the Roman-Byzantine era, 2000-1400 years ago, a Jewish community prospered here, making a living out of the special and very expensive perfume, the “Apharsemon” (balsam) that was produced from the extracts of a bush that was grown here, but disappeared into a mystery and now no one knows which plant was it…

At the basis of today’s Ein Gedi stand the oasis and the nature reserve that attract hundreds of people every day, most of them hike the short route to the Shulamit Waterfall and back. Ein Gedi Kibbutz is settled on top of a ‘hill” south of the oasis, and is a home for around 500 people. The Ein Gedi Field School is a guiding center for nature studies of the Judean Desert, operated by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and is located at the foot of Mt. Yishay, north of the oasis. The public beach and the “wild Beach” of the Dead Sea are located on its east.

The trail described here if for fit hikers and covers the reserve from different angles, avoiding the human flow of people visiting the place on a daily basis…

We start at the rear gate of the field school and ascend to the top of the cliff, to Mt. Yishay, keeping to the trail marked black. It takes around two hours to reach the top, for fantastic views over the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert. From there we take a red marked trail and follow it west and then south. It surrounds the Upper Dry Canyon of Wadi David to reach, after two more hours, the Ein Gedi Ascent, where we are going to descend from. A breath-taking view awaits us as we start descending. Reaching the water sources after yet another hour, we pay a short visit to the Ein Gedi Spring. Most of its water is taken by the kibbutz for their needs, and only the leftovers are flowing to the shallow wading pool. From here we’ll head to the Dodim Cave (translated as “the lovers cave”) which is a genuine Garden of Eden, with the combination of water, vegetation, stalactites, birds and more. Occationally we can also see the snake… Back on the trail, we go down to the lower part of the David Stream, to see the waterfall and bathe in one or two more pools on the way out. As you pass by the cashier, mention to the person on duty that you arrived from the Desert Plateau, and maybe you’ll be dismissed from paying the entrance fee, of around 7.5$ per person…

A guided trek on this trail can be reserved at www.yoeloren.com

2 Comments

  1. Harsha says:

    I am looking to do Masada and the Dead Sea in one day, pbeferarly by bus, or cheapest way possible. Any suggestions? I know Egged has bused daily to Massada but how do I then get to the Dead Sea?

  2. Yoel says:

    You are right, you can take the 486 bus from Egged central bus station in Jerusalem to Masada. then you can take a bus from Masada to Ein Gedi beach ( bus 486,384)which is the most easily accessable by public transportation, then take the 486 back to Jerusalem.
    Another option is taking a group tour which is more expensive (around 120$) but they pick you up at the hotel, guide you and then you don’t lose time waiting for busses. I can register you to a group tour without fee, if you send me an email to +972-523551686.
    Yoel

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