En Gedi is a nature reserve in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the Qumran Caves. Below is my account of this surprising and exhilarating oasis.
So we set off for the Dead Sea without any intention of visiting the En Gedi. To be honest, I never heard of it until one of my colleagues mentioned it about 10 minutes before we arrived. Normally, I think I would have jumped at the chance, but we were all a little unenthusiastic about the idea of visiting a nature reserve, especially because we were on our way to the Dead Sea. But after much discussion, persuasion and finally a vote on the matter, the majority won and we were going to make a quick stop before floating in the sweet saltiness of the Middle East.
The En Gedi
I must admit, I wasn’t expecting much. I imagined a small patch of greenery with a few animals and maybe somewhere to buy a drink. We arrived at the entrance and paid what I thought was a high price to see a bit of grass, and embarked on the inevitable walk in 200 degree heat just to see a dear. Ten minutes later I would feast upon my words like a ravenous squirrel!
The place was beyond amazing. First of all it was huge, and the scenery was breathtaking. We walked around, soaking it all in with huge smiles on our faces, and spontaneously emitting the sounds one makes when they are experiencing something epic. Every corner you walk around, you find yourself taking in another view of the Dead Sea, walking under a waterfall, climbing up a canyon, the list goes on. One moment you’re walking in the desert, the next it seems like you’ve entered a jungle. Every part of the En Gedi was filled with surprises.
With this new found enthusiasm for the place, we decided to climb as high as we could up the canyon. Having never really mastered climbing the stairs back home (I always seem to miss that last step) I was thrilled to accept the challenge. We began to ascend the mild incline that was relatively easy going and before we knew it we were halfway. The second half however was very difficult due to the heat and lack of feasible footpath. I must have stopped to take a breath every 2 minutes, but the payoff was amazing. The view was spectacular but what was waiting for us at the top was even better. Two natural pools that were so inviting after the hard climb, I couldn’t resist diving in. It was as if all the heat and fatigue had instantly disappeared and I was at home with my feet up watching re runs of Black Books. So to summarise my experience of the En Gedi I can only think of one word…. phenomenal.
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