Sunday, December 24, 1995

1995 Israel: Ein Gedi (12/24/1995)

Sunday, December 24, 1995 (continued)
Our next stop was Ein Gedi. We skipped the spa as we were not interested in mud baths or warm sulfur pools! We went to a rocky public beach with free access to the Dead Sea. There were showers on the beach, but we opted to pay the 5 NIS to use the changing facilities and showers. First we used the restroom, then changed into bathing suits and sandals. It is suggested not to walk barefoot to avoid getting cut by the rocks, then stepping into salt water! Brynne did not want to go in the water, but she walked between Kent and me towards the water.
Ein Gedi Public Beach
Ein Gedi Public Beach
Kent, Brynne, and Tamiko enter the Dead Sea
Brynne decides not to enter the Dead Sea
She then began to complain of pebbles in her sandals and refused to go in the water. So with Brynne crying at the water’s edge, Kent and I walked into the Dead Sea, and floated. But you float in a v-shape with your bottom in the water, and head and feet buoyed up above the water. Gentle waves bobbed us southward. If you flipped onto your stomach, your body still wanted to be v-shaped, with your stomach in the water and head and feet out. I could sort of swim! I did get some water splashed on my lower lip, and it was very bitter. We soon got out and went to shower (nice warm showers), dry off and change clothes. Temperature-wise, we had been comfortable in bathing suits, but the water was initially cold; however, once in the water you quickly got used to it. It took a while to find our way out of the new parking lot, which was being paved.
Since we had not spent much time at the beach, we decided to go to the nature preserve that is almost across the street; the Nahal David portion. Took the road past the youth hostel and field school of the SPNI (Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). We had joined SPNI and had a temporary membership card. We parked and waited at the ticket counter while a family sorted out something. The membership card got a discount only for me and Kent. The Ls got in as senior citizens, and then Brynne, for a total of 37.50 NIS.
Ein Gedi is mentioned often in the Old Testament and is best known as the place where 3,000 years ago David hid from the wrath of King Saul. The location of hot climate and plentiful water from four springs in a desert environment created a unique oasis. From 1600-foot cliffs to seashore, a variety of habitats allow plants from four phytogeographical areas grow side by side (tropical, desert, Mediterranean, and steppian). The secret of Ein Gedi was the balsam whose fruit is used to produce a perfume valuable for trade. We did not identify flora as we followed the path along the pretty dry streambed. The guidebook promised the walk to the waterfall would be only 15 minutes, so Tom and Dot came along. Almost immediately we saw three or four hyrax back against a fence, large furry rodent-like animals, the size of a small groundhog. Soon we arrived at the waterfall, the Shulamit falls, a thin stream falling over a rock ledge.
Shalumit Falls (PBB)
Kent, Brynne, and Tamiko
at the top of Shalumit Falls
The path brought us to a bridge over the top of the falls. People were wading in the very shallow water below. Above us was a gorge and in the cliffs were caves; look another skull!
"Place of the Skull"
We had seen the waterfall, so started back. Kent, Brynne and I took a detour to find a half dozen hyrax climbing along tree branches, and scurrying in the tall grass.
Procavia capensis/Rock Hyrax silhouette
When we got back to the entrance, a crowd had gathered to watch an ibex on the rocks across the wadi.
Ibex stalked by a photographer
Capra nubiana/Nubian Ibex
It was a male with the characteristic large curved horns. Apparently it was a female we had seen earlier on the way to Masada, as she was smaller, with smaller and thinner horns. We were so glad to have seen some native wildlife! I bought postcards, receiving a discount for them. We returned to the car and drove northward. Saw another ibex on a rock ledge above the road.
Next: Jericho.

No comments: