Ein Gedi - which literally means “Young Goat Spring” in Hebrew - is an oasis located west of the Dead Sea and on the eastern edge of the Judean desert. Ein Gedi contains a kibbutz and a beautiful natural area that has been preserved as a national park.
Its vibrant and rich colors are a nice break from the monotone brown of the desert.
In addition to its springs, which are a cooling respite from the heat of the Dead Sea area, Ein Gedi is known for its caves and its diverse animal and plant life.
Two spring-fed streams flow through the national park, with water that flows year-round.
These streams are called Nachal David, named after King David - who is believed to have hid from Saul in Ein Gedi’s caves - and Nachal Arugot, in the southern part of the park. Flowing waterfalls can also be found at Ein Gedi.
Animals in Ein Gedi include the hyrax and ibex, and hikers in the park can often see the animals, especially ibex, walking around. Nocturnal animals in the park are foxes, wolves, hyenas, and, occasionally, the spotted leopard.
There are three main trails in Ein Gedi, designated for varying levels of difficulty. The Lower David Stream Trail is easy and passes through waterfalls, pools, and typical trees.
The Upper David Trail is for experienced hikers and goes up a slope to a cave at the top of the David Waterfall. The Tsafit Trail is also for experienced hikers, and is the most comprehensive route in the park.
The plant life in Ein Gedi is unique in that it includes Mediterranean, tropical, and desert vegetation. Some examples of the vegetation at the park are the Sodom apple, Christ-thorn, acacia, jujube, giant reed and poplar.
Unique plants can also be seen at Kibbutz Ein Gedi’s Botanical Garden, which has over 800 rare species of trees, shrubs and flowers from around the world.
Biblical plants, such as Myrrh and Frankincense, are included among the plants in the garden. The Botanical Garden can be visited daily - except for on major holidays - with guided tours available.
In addition to attracting hikers and nature lovers, Ein Gedi also attracts half marathon runners. The starting point for the annual Shalom Marathon – Dead Sea Half Marathon has been Ein Gedi since 1983.