Hemmed in by the rocky peaks of the Judean Desert to the west and the salty shores of the Dead Sea to the east, the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is the largest and most beautiful oasis in Israel. A popular spot for hikers, it’s also famous for its biblical importance: This is the place where David hid from King Saul around 1000 BC.
Ein Gedi has several well-marked hiking trails traversing its wadis, waterfalls, and desert oases, and guided hikes typically take in landmarks like Dodim’s Cave (Lovers’ Cave), Wadi David, Ein Gedi
Springs, and David Waterfall. Most travelers opt to visit on a day trip from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, often combining a hike at Ein Gedi with a cable-car ride to the mountaintop fortress of Masada and a soak in the Dead Sea.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is an entrance fee to enter the reserve, and tickets include a map of the park’s hiking trails and attractions.
- Wear comfortable shoes, and bring sunscreen and plenty of water, especially if you plan on hiking; temperatures can reach 100°F (38°C) in the summer months.
- The uneven and often gravelly tracks mean that Ein Gedi is mostly inaccessible to wheelchair users.
- Visitor facilities include restrooms, a kiosk, and a gift shop at the reserve entrance.
How to Get There
The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is located along Road 90, which runs along the coast of the Dead Sea. To arrive by public transport, take bus 486/487 from Jerusalem or Ein Gedi, or bus 421 from Tel Aviv. The park entrance is at the southeast edge of the park, just off the highway.
When to Get There
An early start is recommended to avoid the midday heat, especially during the summer months (June–August); here is very little shade in the reserve. In winter, the reserve closes early for conservation reasons, so be sure to check the closing times before setting out on an afternoon hike.
Wildlife of Ein Gedi
Covering 6,250 acres (2,529 hectares) and fed by four natural springs—David, Arugot, Shulamit, and Ein Gedi—the park hosts a wealth of tropical flora and native wildlife, with endemic species including Nubian ibex, Syrian hyrax, Afghan fox, and striped hyena, as well as a large population of migratory and resident birds. The reserve is also dotted with archaeological sites, with key attractions including the Chalcolithic Temple of Ein Gedi and a village dating back to the AD first century.