Yes, the waterfall at Ein Gedi. Somewhere I have a photo of my then five-year-old daughter frolicking under it. And a memory of my eventually walking out barefoot over the painfully rocky stream bottom to encourage her to leave.We checked out of our vacation rental, took a taxi to Hertz, and were driving out of Jerusalem by 10:30. I used the Waze app to navigate because there are no israel maps for my Garmin. It worked okay but is not as good as the Garmin and it sucked up the battery on my phone. I’ll have to set up my cigarette lighter USB cable to charge while driving.
About 15 minutes outside of Jerusalem we stopped at the Good Samaritan Museum, with mosaics from finds around the country. There were a couple of tour buses there. Well worth a stop.
The drive was through very barren country with no people or towns. As we reached the Dead Sea there was the turnoff for Jericho in the Palestinian Territories. There were some shops there and camels which people pay to ride (after putting on an Arab headscarf).
We turned south and drove along the Dead Sea. There were some date Palm tree plantations but not much else. A very still and misty coloured lake, the Dead Sea, on the right, dry dirt and steep cliffs rising up on the left.
We reached the Ein Gedi Hotel before noon and decided to see if our room was ready or we could leave our bags. It was hot - mid 80sF. I had packed some food so we had lunch in their gardens and then our room was ready. I booked the most expensive room because I read the basic ones were very basic. Our room is lovely with a large balcony and a view straight up Wadi Arugot. Very beautiful!
We had planned to go to Masada first but changed our minds and went to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and hiked up Wadi David. This is an easy one hour round trip walk along the river to a waterfall, then a more scrambly walk to the next waterfall. Ein Gedi is mentioned in the Old Testament twice. It is an oasis with the rive coming from a spring in the cliffs above and the steep, rocky terrain creating waterfalls. The water, the falls and three trees along the river were cooling on such a hot day. Blissful.
Did I mention that we did the hike with about 1,000 rambunctious kids? The trail was packed. The kids were standing in the pools under the waterfalls. The leaders were crying out to keep them together. The kids were running where they shouldn’t run, going off the trails and creating a roar of noise. We would not be seeing the Iberian Ibex today! It was pretty magnificent watching them all have a great time. It never feels like a crowd to me when everyone is half my height.
It thinned out after the first waterfall when the walking became more difficult but there still plenty of them. It must have been a bunch of school trips.
Some parts of the trail were narrow, on rock, but there were handrails (that you burned your hand on if they were in the sun). Some parts went through the water (just a stream). One part went through a dark tunnel. We could have hiked higher up the canyon wall, to the spring, but we didn’t because of the heat.
After our walk we drove down along the Dead Sea, past Masada where we will go tomorrow, to Ein Bokek, a modern resort with several high rise hotels, restaurants and a big beach. We parked, I put my hand in the Dead Sea (warm and slimy), walked along the boardwalk watching people on the beach and floating in the water.
Before dinner we did a walk around the kibbutz. The ticket person at the park said you can see Ibex in the kibbutz grounds at sunset. Cats and dogs, no Ibex.
Dinner was at the hotel buffet dining room. I read that the kibbutz members eat there too, but it didn’t seem like that. The hotel is kosher, so breakfast is dairy and dinner is meat. Since it is a buffet we were able to get vegetarian meals. The food was very good. I had white rice with parsley, mashed potato’s (with no dairy), vegetables, bread. I could have had a big salad too. For dessert there rice looking dairy-free cakes, which we skipped, and sorbet, which we had.
The only downside is that our room has a fragrance, not on the sheets but in the air, but we are airing it out. The kibbutz is a botanical gardens. We’ll take a walk around in daylight when we can see more. It is lovely to be in the dessert. It looks like the area north of Santa Fe, except for the huge body of water and Jordan on the other side.
In the Hebrew Bible, Song of Songs 1:14
14 My beloved is to me a cluster of henna in the vineyards of Ein-Gedi.
Watch out for the desert sun!