Hiking near oasis at the Dead Sea in Israel

After spending 2 days of snorkeling at the Red Sea, I had to move further and the next stop on my trip through Israel was the Dead Sea. I stayed at the friend of my new friend who brought me to Ga’ash beach in Tel Aviv. He lives in Ein Gedi kibbutz which is a part of luscious Ein Gedi oasis off the shores of the Dead Sea. The sea-lake itself is of course the major attraction in the area, and I will talk about it in my next post, but there is also a nice opportunity to see local flora and fauna on a day hiking trip. Ein Gedi nature reserve has two spring-fed streams with flowing water year-round: Nahal David and Nahal Arugot. The former is much more popular and I was advised not to go there, as tourists pour there in big portions coming with organized bus tours.
So I went alone to Nahal Arugot and for most of the time I wasn’t disturbed by anyone and even found some moments to enjoy the refreshing waters in the buff!
Right after entrance it did feel like it was a desert, but then it gets quite green along the stream and at some points you can walk right on its banks or just in its shallow waters.
When it got deeper and wider, I couldn’t resist dipping in the water. Skinny-dipping, of course!
But I heard some loud voices of american teenage tourists and had to cover fast. In any case I had to hurry, because the trail closes very early and I had to return to the entry point by 5pm.
Then I saw the first pool with waterfalls. That is what the trail is known for, but this one was quickly occupied by the american tourists and I continued further.
I noted another pool but decided to stop there on the way back if I didn’t find anything else.
So I continued hiking partially on the trail, partially through in the stream, in hope to find a more secluded spot. I found one pool that seemed to be somewhat hidden by the trees and bushes and refreshed again.
It also seemed like a nice spot for having a lunch. While I was eating my sandwich, a couple of birds came very close to me.
They did not beg for food like their urban relatives, and it was nice to imagine that they were as curious about me as I was about them.
After food I went for another dip
and met another creature that didn’t mind me taking a close-up photo.
Then I finally continued hiking.
I reached the tallest waterfall
but didn’t stay there for too long as I wanted to go till the end of the trail.
Unfortunately, just a little further above the waterfalls I was called by a guard and who told me it was too late to continue further. It sounded ridiculous to me but I didn’t bother arguing and started my way back in the direction of the Dead Sea.
I was passing by the high waterfall again, but it was then full of VERY noisy orthodox jews, mostly teenagers. I was wondering why they needed to shout so much, as the place looked so peaceful and perfect for listening to the sounds of nature, but for them it was more of an attraction park, which is also understandable, given that they might not have too much access to natural freshwater pools if they lived in that area. But then I raised my head and right above the gorge saw a group of nubian ibexes.
Apparently, they were thinking about the same issues, as they were staring from above at the noisy tourists fooling around at the waterfall.
The good part about their noisiness, I thought, was that in case I would do skinny-dipping, I can hear them approaching.
As you can see, I also found it to be quite an attraction to slide down the stream bed into the pool.
It was also amazing to see ferns growing on the walls above the stream given that few meters away a rocky desert was starting.
But then even more amazing it was to see two animals side by side that you would never expect to see in the desert: a frog and a crab!
After I had enough fun at the pool, I followed till the exit quickly and just stopped to take pictures of another group of ibexes, which came even closer.
I would never think I could spend such refreshing day and seeing wildlife at the Dead Sea.
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