Outside the City, Jerusalem
the 6,250-acre ein gedi nature reserve sits along the syrian-african rift, not far from the dead sea. the reserve's four springs are literally the wellspring for a wealth of flora and fauna, providing a stark contrast to the parched desert environment all around. there are marked hiking trails along the rivers and streams as well as longer trails with steps leading to the top of the 400-meter-high ha'etakim cliff, which runs the entire length of the dead sea. thanks to its location, hot climate, and abundant water, ein gedi is a tropical oasis. many animals are attracted to ein gedi's water and luxuriant flora. some are accustomed to the sight of hikers and therefore can be observed from up close. the nubian ibex, which lives in small herds, was at one time considered an endangered species, but thankfully is now thriving. the reserve also has a significant population of syrian hyrax. other large mammals living in the dead sea valley are wolf, red fox, afghan fox, and striped hyena. the judean desert has a very small population of leopards, an animal considered threatened in this region. it costs 23 ($5) shekels for amdission.
if you'd like to get an idea of what's going on here, it's possible to travel a short distance outside the city in order to get an idea of what the wall really look like. from a human rights point of view, the wall may be questionable - from a security point of view, it's incredibly effective. a fact that's hard no to appreciate. either way, it's a powerful thing to see.
At the end of the Tel-Aviv highway, as you encounter the first major traffic light into Jerusalem, look left for Lifta- this is the way to find Lifta – a wadi centered around the ancient Mey Niftoach spring. North of the wadi lies the territory of the Benjamin tribe, to the south the territory of Judah. It is such an important location that in the book of Joshua it is mentioned as one of the reference points for the tribal boundaries.
It is very easy to descend into the wadi, just start at the traffic light and go down the conspicuous spiraling walkway.
The centerpiece of Lifta is a spring emerging from a cave and spilling into an ancient pool, and from there flowing as a brook into the valleys. To the both sides of the brook are the ruins of an Arab village abandoned in the early 50's after Israel has finally stopped Arabs attacking traffic on the Tel-Aviv highway.
Arabs not only built on the ancient Hebrew names like Mey Niftoach, but also on ancient Hebrew ruins. You could see the mixture of Arab frescoed houses ruined and exposing a rich historical layer. You need at least several hours to explore the ruins and find millstones, winepresses, ancient columns.
The wadi has a reward for anyone who goes down there in August-September-October - the multitude of fig trees bear a rich harvest of fruit.
On hot august days the ancient pool is popular with men. Women rarely go to cool off in the water, being shy of the men to skinny dip.
It is fun to explore the cave that is the actual spring. It would remind many of the walk through the the Siloan spring-cave south of the Old City, in the City of David. Walking in the water up to your ankles you will eventually get to the dead end from which issues the spring. You'll need a good flashlight to explore the cave.
The climb back up and out of the wadi is the best aerobic exercise.
Mural painting 3.6X6 m
The painting is made of 960 ceramic tiles,
and represents a panorama of images and landscape typical of Armenian ceramic art.
Take the desert safari truck for a great outdoor tour to the Mar Saba monastery and for great view points over the dead sea.