Thursday 4 March 2010

Ein Gedi. It's worth the trek to the waterfall

It is difficult nowadays to imagine what it must have been like for the early tourists to Ein Gedi, before the easy road to the site was built. Trekking through the inhospitable Judean Desert for days must have been tough for even the hardiest traveller, but the journey was worth it, if only to experience the greenery, flowing waterfall, cool shade and magical ambience of Ein Gedi. Even the United Nations, not noted for hyperbolae, has singled this unique site out for special mention. The Nature Reserve is large and you would only really be sensible to take the extended tours with an experienced guide (and lots of water!) but almost everyone can take the two hour trip up Nahal David. Because of its unique microclimate, the reserve is the home to a very special blend of flora and fauna, including the tropical moringa tree, which reaches no further north than this anywhere in the world. You will almost certainly see ibex, hyrax (although they are VERY shy) and wild goats, now not so wild at all. The question is often asked about where the water comes from in such abundance, here in the middle of the desert.

We all seem to forget that the desert can experience rain - and even floods - in winter and the water permeates through the top surface, percolating down until it reaches a stratum of hard rock and finds a way out. (well, there's the geological bit out of the way). Happily for us this happens right here! There is such a lot of history here, from Stone Age settlers from well over 5000 years ago, via David pursued by Saul and the Essenes ( better know for their settlement at Qumran) to a site occupied by supporters of Bar Kochba. These days the reserve can be easily reached from Route 90, the Dead Sea road, between km 244 and 245. 

To view a Google map of this site, please click here. 

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