Things to do in Eilat, Dead Sea & the South

Ein Gedi National Park

About Ein Gedi

Ein Gedi is a desert oasis that has so much to offer. It is a green scenery in the midst of the yellows and browns, located west of the Dead Sea.

The Ein Gedi nature reserve and national park is located in the Judean Desert, on the shore of the Dead Sea. Ein Gedi boasts elevations of vast differences, which you can experience over very short distances. For instance, in only less than one kilometer you can ascend from the depths of the Dead Sea (at 400 meters below sea level) to the desert plateau (at 200 meters above sea level!). The area is barren desert — which is unforgivingly hot and arid. But Ein Gedi’s oasis, there are four springs that are flowing all-year round, generating about three millino cubic meters of water each year, making Ein Gedi the biggest oasis in the Judean Desert.

The name “Ein Gedi” is composed of two Hebrew words: ein which means “spring” and gedi (or gdi) which means “goat-kid”, so it literally means “spring of the goat-kid” and you will certainly encounter the mountain goats scampering up the cliffs.

Ein Gedi was settled for thousands of years and there are some incredible mosaics in the Ein Gedi ancient synagogue. In the Bible, Ein Gedi is mentioned in the Song of Songs (1:14) – “the vineyards of Ein Gedi.”

Ein Gedi is a place for a walk or a hike or in the local – a “tiyul.”  Ein Gedi is one of those places you can go to time and time again. Some would think that the average school kid probably has two or three excursions to Ein Gedi during their school career and maybe one or two trips a year with their families.

Look out for the ibex and the other creatures that are very friendly. You are warned to be cautious if you encounter desert leopards, but it is not likely. I saw a few of them once at 2:00 in the morning – and that was amazing.

watefalls
Shulamit Waterfall in Nahal David, Ein Gedi

Nahal David, Nahal Arugot & Other Ein Gedi Hikes

The Ein Gedi nature reserve includes two spring-fed streams with flowing water year-round: Nahal David and Nahal Arugot.

Nahal David is the simpler walk – there are lots of pools in which you can cool your feet or go swimming – just perfect for the hot day. There are even places where you can just leap off the rocks into the pool below.

The water forms its own channel through the rock and so there are a few places where you can take a natural shower – amazing!

Nahal Arugot is a more rewarding walk with year round water but it takes longer and is not as easy with small children.

There are also several trails that go further into the desert with spectacular views of the Dead Sea. These are well worthwhile doing, and many people find that the desert walk, with frequent water pools, and an ice cream at the end makes a perfect day out. If you are interested in these trails come equipped for a proper desert hike and consult with the rangers on site before setting out.

See Ein Gedi Reserve

See also Nature Reserves

See also the Ein Gedi Photo Gallery

Notes

They are very strict here about the no food rule – I have even seen bags being searched and rangers intervene when they see you eating. However, water is essential – there is a cooler to fill your bottles behind the wall on the right after the turnstiles. It is very hot here, you must drink, especially if you undertake some of the more challenging routes in the reserve.

Bring clothes and shoes that can get wet. There are a couple of pools that you can go in where the water is quite deep; please keep an eye on your children in all of the pools.

The official Ein Gedi National Park site claims partial wheelchair access – we assume that this is for the synagogue, as the trails are not paved and there are some steep steps and hearty climbing amongst rocks.

Ein Gedi accommodation

There is a youth hostel and also a kibbutz hotel (that we have heard good things about) that makes for a perfect desert hideaway.

Getting To Ein Gedi

On Road 90, by the Dead Sea.

Look out for the ibex and other creatures that are very friendly.
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