Situated on the Dead Sea coastline, the popular Ein Gedi nature reserve offers a perpetual oasis of lush botanical gardens, cool spring-fed streams, and an expansive sanctuary for a variety of plant, bird, and animal species. While these elements stand in contrast to the encroaching desert landscape, it feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem, located approximately 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Ein Gedi.
To understand its popularity as a premier hiking destination for visitors, one need only look at the biblical account of David hiding from King Saul in the strongholds of Ein Gedi (1 Samuel 23:29, 24:2). Offering nine different trails, Ein Gedi never ceases to challenge even the most experienced hiking enthusiast.
Archaeology buffs can examine artifacts in the Moringa and Mikveh Caves from periods as early as the Neolithic era, as well as the Chalcolithic Temple, which lies atop a scarp overlooking the oasis. The caves may have served as a place of refuge for David, where he would write Psalms 57 and 142 as a plea to God for safety and succor.
Historically, Ein Gedi served as a significant water source in biblical times (Joshua 15:62) and was one of several cities apportioned by God to the tribe of Judah. Even now, the reserve boasts an abundance of natural water, supplied by several spring-fed streams which flow year-round. Visitors have ready access to these springs and pools. One of the most famous destinations, the beautiful David’s Waterfall, is approximately a 30-minute walk from the start of the hiking trails, and affords an ideal cooling-off spot.
Whichever way you decide to spend your visit to Ein Gedi, you’ll be amazed by its many contrasts and its unique and timeless beauty.