Israel has many wonders to experience, from the Masada to the Dead Sea. Ein Gedi is another of the country’s natural wonders that must be seen and explored up close.
The History of Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi’s history is long, with many historical instances taking place throughout the years. In the Bible, it is recorded that David used the area as a place of refuge when fleeing from King Saul. This is noted in 1 Sam 23:29 “dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi.” At one point, David spared Saul’s life. In return, Saul told David that he would be the one to take over Saul’s throne.
In 1953, the Kibbutz was formed at the historic site. The kibbutz resides on the edge of the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea’s western shore. As of 2021, close to 600 residents live there.
The Natural Wonders of Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi resides on the western shore of the Dead Sea. It is a desired destination for hikers from around the world due to its scenic beauty and abundance of flora and fauna. Ein Gedi, aka “spring of the goat” is, in the true sense of the word, an oasis in the desert. It served during biblical times as an important source of water. The spring begins its flow over 600 feet above the Dead Sea.
Within the area, hikers can take a trail that leads them to relaxing and refreshing bubbling streams or to cool pools of water fed by cascading waterfalls. The Shulamit Spring is accessed by another trail that takes hikers to the top of the waterfalls and on to Dodim Cave.
Continuing the hike leads to what is believed to be a Chalcolithic sanctuary that dates back to 4000 B.C.E. Once the top of the trail is reached, hikers have uninterrupted views of the mountain ranges of Moab and the Dead Sea, and the Kibbutz Ein Gedi.
Visitors will also be exposed to a variety of beautiful foliage, a variety of bird species, small wildlife, such as ibex, deer, and rabbits, and larger animals, such as leopards. Also, within its boundaries, date palms thrive in the climate and serve as a primary crop for local residents of the Kibbutz.
Attractions in Ein Gedi
The Qumran National Park has served as a significant site for archaeologists for many years and has several references to support its history. It is less than an hour’s drive from Ein Gedi and well worth the visit. Inside the park’s caves, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by chance in 1947. Archaeologists found evidence of people living within the caves in the 8th and 7th centuries. The Romans took over the area and remained there for 20 years, and in 132-135 C.E., fighters of Bar-Kokhba used the ruins as living quarters. From 130 C.E. to 70 C.E., a community known as the Dead Sea Sect lived in Qumran.
Less than 20 minutes from Ein Gedi, tourists and those on pilgrimage are less than 20 minutes from historic Masada National Park. The fortress sitting atop the flat rock plateau was built as a palace and refuge for King Herod the Great between 37 BCE and 31 BCE. A wall separated the palace from the fortress structures to provide security and privacy. The Masada was eventually taken over by the Romans, and then Jewish rebels and zealots took it back. In 3 CE, the Roman army retook the Masada. When visiting the impressive ruins, you will see portions of Herod’s two palaces, a bathhouse, a storehouse complex, coins, pottery, and Israel’s oldest synagogue.
For anyone who enjoys the serenity and beauty of a garden, you can add the Ein Gedi Botanical Garden to the top sights list. Hikers have many trails leading to Masada and also the tranquility of Wadi Arugot. Soak up some sun or take a stroll at Ein Gedi Beach or the nature preserve. History buffs can explore two archeological sites, the Ein Gedi Reserve Ancient Synagogue and the Cave of Letters.
After a day of hiking or sightseeing, a visit to Ein Gedi Beach is one refreshing way to cool down and relax. Whether you’ve hiked one of the many trails or explored the Judean Desert, Ein Gedi’s public beach offers dramatic views and therapeutic waters. The Dead Sea is known for its healing properties due to its mixture of minerals, salt, and mud.
Where to Stay and What to Eat in Ein Gedi
For visitors who want to experience a replenishing spa experience, they can book a stay at the Ein Gedi Hotel, where the Synergy Spa is the place to soothe the soul and sore muscles. Travelers also have the option of camping at Khan. This is an unforgettable experience where guests can bring their own tent, rent a sizable tent to suit your needs or stay in an exclusive VW double van. Khan provides all the services needed with showers, toilets, hot water, stoves, refrigerators, hammocks, and receptacles to charge mobile devices.
Dining options near Ein Gedi provide visitors with fresh and creative cuisine at several restaurants. Choose the Ein Gedi Hotel Restaurant, which is about an hour and a half from Ein Gedi. At Baobar, the menu is simple, using fresh and natural ingredients for a fulfilling meal. Whether you are interested in breakfast, lunch, or coffee and dessert, Dezert Patisserie has it all. The small family-operated cafe serves breakfast, salads and sandwiches for lunch, fresh-made pastries, assorted desserts, and flavorful cups of coffee.