Ein Gedi (also spelt En Gedi) is a desert oasis. Situated in eastern Israel, close enough to the Dead Sea and Masada, this makes for an awesome stop over while doing the pair. Israel is quite simply full of surprises and Ein Gedi was a neat extra that we didn’t even know about or bank on, when doing the Masada Sunrise tour with Abraham Tours. Ein Gedi was a bonus.
Having got up at 4am (we stayed in the Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem) and hiked to the top of Masada for sunrise, this was an incredible day in our backpacking lifestyle. After getting back to our bus from Masada, we were taken to Ein Gedi. Before the trip I had heard of Masada and the Dead Sea (obviously) but only thanks to my Lonely Planet book was I aware of Ein Gedi’s existence.
What is Ein Gedi?
A nature reserve, a desert oasis. Call it what you will, this is a random area of wildlife, waterfalls and plants in an area of desert plain near the Dead Sea. It’s not incredibly unique until you realise it’s this close to the Dead Sea, and nicely situated just north of Masada too. It makes a totally welcome addition to your backpacking in Israel adventure.
Getting to Ein Gedi.
OK there’s the usual two options – do it yourself or go with a tour. You’ll note that on my travel blog I usually do things myself, which means buses, spending a lot more time planning and trying to save money. I don’t always agree this is best though, a bit of a reality check is needed sometimes. So I advise you to do Ein Gedi as part of a tour which includes Masada and the Dead Sea. Call it killing three birds on one stone.
You’ll be dropped off at the entrance, given time to go in and check out the nature reserve and then back in the bus for the next leg of the journey. The order goes:
2. Ein Gedi
3. Dead Sea
How much does it cost to visit Ein Gedi?
It’s a flat fee of 29 Israeli Shekels. However if you book the tour with Abraham Hostels, you’ll get a discount. They are currently issuing you with a voucher for 25% off – so just over 22 Shekels with the voucher. You could also pretend you’re a student and blag further discount.
What is there to see and do at Ein Gedi?
1. Admire Wildlife – Wildlife lovers will be at home here. A range of birds and mammals can be seen while walking around Ein Gedi. Rock hyraxes and Ibex were the main ones we saw. At night, hyenas and foxes can be seen. All the time be on the lookout for snakes and lizards. Birds fly by all the time too – look up into the trees.
2. Hike – It was extremely hot when we were there and having spend the previous few weeks doing lots of hikes in the heat in Israel and Jordan, we chose to take it easy and just head to the second waterfall. There are longer hikes if you’re up for it! Make sure you take water and sun cream though – it gets hot!
3. Get Wet – For me the highlight of Ein Gedi was getting wet in the waterfalls. There are a few of them about, with the main one being called David’s Fall. As a tip – wear your swimming shorts in advance so you can get that well needed dip!! The water is also extremely fresh.
4. Ancient Synagogue – Dating back to the 3rd – 6th Century AD is an ancient synagogue. The floor contains a mosaic with animal inscriptions. It’s accessed on a path to the left of the front entrance.
5. Relax – You can chill away from the rays of the sun on the picnic tables by the car park. Ice cream, hot snacks and cold drinks are all for sale here. I indulged in an ice lolly!
6. Go Shopping – There’s a cafe and a shop here. You can get your souvenirs here but be warned they are a bit pricier than in downtown Jerusalem.
Ein Gedi got us in the mood for the next big event of the day. It was a hotly anticipated one for me. Having seen the world’s highest lake in Bolivia about 3 years earlier (Lake Titicaca), I was now going to see the world’s lowest lake, the Dead Sea from the Israel side.
Thanks to Alun Kruger for being our tour driver and Tourist Israel for the recommendations on some great trips.
Oasis – Supersonic:
My Videos from Ein Gedi (will follow when I find a country that permits YouTube!):