Ein Gedi, just aside the Dead Sea in the Judean Desert, not too far from Jerusalem, is one of Israel’s premier hiking spots, featuring spectacular beauty, varied landscapes, and botanical gardens. There’s no doubt that Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is one of the most beautiful places in Israel. While it is located close to Jerusalem, it feels worlds away, Ein Gedi is, of course, one of the most popular escape spots for locals and tourists who take advantage of the reserve, botanical gardens, and the Dead Sea.
Hiking at Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
While the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve offers over nine different hiking trails, suitable for everyone from family groups to experienced hikers, and ranging in duration from just half an hour in length to a full day, some of the most popular hiking trails are those which head through Wadi David.
The following route is split into two, the first section is suitable for all hikers, whilst the second section is a slightly more challenging “moderate” hike.
The first section of the Wadi David Hike (the ‘lower section’) is a scenic hike from the Wadi David ticket office to David’s Waterfall. A circular walk, it’s a pretty walk which is expected to take no longer than one hour to complete.
The trail is well marked and setting out from the ticket office, you enter the wadi. A wadi is a dry river stream in the desert, although here, due to the David Spring, there is water flowing. The contrast that the wadi provides in its lush green landscape, compared to the surrounding desert is the first astonishing thing you will notice. As you continue, you will soon reach the beautiful David’s Waterfall and the pools in which people will be swimming. At this point, either turn back to the start or continue to the second section of the hike.
The second section, or the “upper section” as it’s known, is an additional three or four-hour hike. Continuing from David’s Fall you head onto more difficult trails towards Shulamit’s Spring, Dodim’s Cave, and finally, the Ein Gedi Spring. These trails involve a little climbing so be prepared for something a little physically demanding. Along the way, water pools are popular with hikers who decide to stop and cool off. The sweet water pool in Dodim’s Cave is particularly beautiful.
Whichever of the hikes you decide to take, you are likely to gaze in awe at the beauty of Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, and be amazed in particular at how it contrasts to its desert surroundings. The springs are a source of beauty today, and have, for thousands of years, been the source upon which life, both human and otherwise, has relied upon for living in the area.
Wildlife at Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Ein Gedi is notable not only for its breathtaking natural beauty but also for the natural habitation of wildlife. As seen in the Nature and Parks Authority symbol for Ein Gedi, the Nubian Ibed is known to live in the park. In fact, Ein Gedi houses one of the largest herds of Ibex in all of Israel. Besides the Ibex, Ein Gedi is known to house wolves, foxes and bats along with many birds of prey. As you walk throughout Ein Gedi Nature Reserve you will be sure to see some of the wildlife flourishing in the area.
Visiting Ein Gedi Reserve
Note: There are two entrances to the Ein Gedi Reserve, for the hikes mentioned here, take the David Stream/Wadi David entrance
There are severaltour options for visiting Ein Gedi:
Masada Sunrise Group Tour – a unique tour which climbs Masada at sunrise, then continues to hike at Ein Gedi, and float in the Dead Sea. Designed for people interested in hiking. Leaves Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Private Day Tour – totally customized experience but usually these day tours go to Masada, Ein Gedi, and the Dead Sea. plus a couple of other sites as desired.
Entrance Fees and Opening Hours Ein Gedi Reserve
Entry fees to the Nature Reserve (including the synagogue): Adults NIS 28, children NIS 14. Israeli senior citizens receive a 50% discount
The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is open between April-September from 8:00- 5:00 pm, and October-March from 8:00 am-4:00pm. Last entrance to David’s Stream in the summer months is 3:00 pm (from the other entrance, at the Arugot Stream, last entrance is 2:00 pm). Holiday eves: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm. Yom Kippur eve: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Getting to Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi is about a one hour drive from Jerusalem. Head out of the city on Route 1 heading east towards Ma’ale Adumim and Jericho. At the intersection with Route 90 (Beit HaArava Interchange) turn right (south). Continue south for approximately 40km and the entrance to the reserve is on the right-hand side. From Tel Aviv, head to Jerusalem on Route 1 and continue past the city following the instructions above.
Heading from the main Dead Sea hotel area at Ein Bokek, and Masada, head north on Route 90 and you will come to Ein Gedi (about 30 minutes north of Ein Bokek ad 15 minutes north of Masada).
Important information: Ein Gedi is wheelchair accessible. Dogs are not permitted to enter the nature reserve.