Israel / Places We Go / Wild Places We Go

The Ein Gedi Oasis

At the foot of the Judaean Mountains, along the western shore of the Dead Sea, can be found the Ein Gedi Oasis.

Ein Gedi is fed by several springs which flow through two canyons, Wadi David and Wadi Arugot. The springs are, in turn, fed by rain that falls in the Judaean Mountains which, after having been absorbed into the water table, flows underground towards Ein Gedi where it emerges as you will see below.

One’s first views of Ein Gedi will likely be of these imposing cliffs:

en gedi

But, by moving up the canyons, one can penetrate deeply into Ein Gedi:

ein gedi nature reserve

Now, of course, some are more interested in hedonism than exploration and they do not make it far into Ein Gedi before seeking relief from the heat and indulging themselves with a plunge into Ein Gedi’s pure, cool waters:

ein gedi nature reserve

There’s nothing wrong with that, but we at The Velvet Rocket are more dedicated to suffering for the sake of exploration.

Thus, we headed up Wadi David:

ein gedi nature reserve

I should mention that the lighting in these pictures may seem slightly odd. This odd light is the result of the light from the sun being filtered through a massive sandstorm blanketing the Dead Sea region on this day of our visit.

rock hyrax ein gedi nature reserve

Ein Gedi’s water, found in the heart of one of the most arid places on the planet, attracts a great deal of wildlife – such as these rock hyraxes in the pictures above and below:

ein gedi nature reserve

As Ein Gedi’s waters are concentrated in a small area, the wildlife is forced to concentrate in this small area as well. The result is that everywhere one looks, a wild animal will almost certainly be on display. These rock hyraxes, such as this one feeding in a tree, are probably the most common fauna in the area:

rock hyrax ein gedi

rock hyrax ein gedi

The rock hyraxes are far from the only wild animals to be found taking advantage of Ein Gedi’s abundant waters though. These ibex are a common sight as well:

ibex ein gedi

ein gedi nature reserve

Although seen far less often, Ein Gedi is also home to species such as leopards, striped hyenas, red and Afghan foxes, wolves and many more. During the migration seasons, more than 400 species of birds will pass through.

One will notice that the greenery that Ein Gedi’s waters permit in this harsh desert climate, does not extend very far at all beyond the immediate range of that water. This is evidenced in the picture below, where the area touched by the water itself is fairly lush, but the landscape beyond very quickly takes on the appearance of the rest of the Dead Sea area:

ein gedi nature reserve

Moving up the canyon, one squeezes through many rocks…

ein gedi nature reserve

…to be rewarded with scenes such as this:

waterfall ein gedi nature reserve

Ein Gedi’s vegetation is a unique blend of tropical, desert and Mediterranean plants… And as one moves farther up the canyon, this vegetation grows increasingly thick as the amount of water increases and one is compelled to make their way through “tunnels” of flora to reach the pools and waterfalls that extend up the canyon:

ein gedi nature reserve

ein gedi nature reserve

ein gedi nature reserve

The sides of the canyon starting to squeeze in as we near the end:

ein gedi nature reserve

At the head of Wadi David is David’s Fall. This is as far as one can go up the canyon without technical equipment (which would take one up to the plateau beyond).

David’s Fall:

david's fall ein gedi

David’s Fall pouring into the pool below it:

david's fall en gedi

The pool is also fed by water seeping out of the sides of the cliffs (which supports the lush moss seen below) which surrounds David’s Fall:

ein gedi nature reserve

Turning back, this crow set the tone of our journey back down the canyon (I am a big fan of crows):

ein gedi nature reserve

Human activity at Ein Gedi dates back more than 6,000 years and the site has been known by its present name since at least biblical times. And there are, in fact, many biblical references to the oasis. Ironically, given its life-sustaining waters, these references are often related to massacres, times of war or as a place of refuge. The most notable mention of Ein Gedi pertains to David, where it is said that David hid from King Saul in a cave, saving himself from a certain and unpleasant death.

And as an interesting “oh by the way”, the site was even owned for a short time by Cleopatra after it was gifted to her by an admiring Marc Anthony…

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One thought on “The Ein Gedi Oasis

  1. Pingback: The Dead Sea: The Lowest Place On Earth « The Velvet Rocket

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