Monday, December 22, 2008

Nachal Og and Ein Feshcha - December 19th 2008

We met at the gas station near Almog at the northern end of the Dead Sea. After a short drive, we parked the cars near the entrance to Kibbutz Almog and started walking.

Our hike started at an elevation of 260 meters below sea level. We walked along a blue trail to Mitzpor Og, a lookout over Nachal Og.

After a short explanation, we continued up the hill until coming to a dirt road marked as a black trail (Elevation 200 meters below sea level). This road goes along the tops of the cliffs to the west of the Dead Sea. We followed the road into Nachal Og, where it met the green trail that took us into Nachal Og's canyon (elevation 220 meters below sea level). After a short explanation about two desert plants, the Maluach and the Caper, we continued along the canyon.

The canyon has many small descents and three places where we used ladders built into the canyon walls to descend about 10 meters. These provided great photo opportunities.

After exiting the canyon (elevation 280 meters below sea level), we had a short explanation about Bedouin hospitality, and then continued back to our cars.

Our next stop was the Ein Feshcha Nature reserve of the shores of the Dead Sea. Ein Feshcha has a large concentration of fresh water springs and is a green oasis in an otherwise desert area. The reserve has three areas: An open area which is open to everyone, a closed part, where only organized groups can visit, and a third area where no one can go.

After a short break for lunch, we walked towards the closed area. On the way we saw ruins of a factory that produced the Persimmon Perfume during the Second Temple period.

The reserve suffered major fire damage in June 2008, and it was amazing to see how much has regenerated. It was also sad to see how far the Dead Sea has receded.

Thanks to Allan who organized the trip, and to Bar, our guide.


Gadi's Pictures:
Steve's Pictures:
Alan's Pictures:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Hula Bird Park and Nachal Aviv - December 4th - December 6th 2008

We left Jerusalem at various times and converged on Kibbutz Malkiyah in the Upper Galille. After arriving we went to sleep in preparation for an early wake up call.

We woke up at 5 am in the morning. It was still cold and dark, but we managed to get ourselves in the cars and drive down to the Hula Valley. As we were driving down, we were greeted with the beginnings of the sunrise over the Golan Heights.

We arrived at the Hula 'lakelet' (Agamon) and met our guide Michael Even-Esh.

Michael took us on a short walk in the area, where we saw the thousands of cranes (19,300 to be exact), pelicans and other birds that use the area as a rest stop on the flight from Europe and Asia to Africa.

We also saw several Nutriyot, and rodent that looks like a muskrat.

Michael also explained the problems the local farmers have with the cranes and the various solutions to the problem.

After our short walk we sat down and had a very nice picnic breakfast.

After breakfast, we drove back up the hill towards Nachal Aviv. We left the cars at the end of our trail, and drove to the beginning where we left most of the cars.

Nachal Aviv starts between Avivim and Yir'on on road 899, The northern road - Kvish HaTzafon. We started our walk at a sharp bend in the road, where we jumped (well, climbed over) the fence and started walking down. There are cliffs on both sides of the river bed. Many of the cliffs form a Tznir (צניר), which is a geological formation resembling a pipe (צינור).

There were many caves in the cliffs on both sides of the river bed. These are the remains of a monastic community that lived here starting in the 4th century. Further down the trail we came to the Laura, the central complex of the community, where the monks would gather every Sunday.

We climbed up a steep narrow staircase carved out of the mountain and saw an Olive Press that was carved out of the bedrock. The view was spectacular.

After climbing down, we continued on the trail and came across a wine press with another great view. Those monks really knew where to build their presses.

We followed Nachal Aviv to its end where it flows into Nachal Dishon. Nachal Dishon is a huge valley that goes all the way to the Hula Valley. We followed it back to our cars.

On Saturday we rested and then came home.

Many Thanks to Phyllis, who did a great job organizing this weeknd, Michael, our guide, and all the drivers who got us there and back.


Alan's Pictures:

Gadi Pictures: