A beautiful day trip in the Judean Desert starts in the monastery of Euthymius the Great. It leads us to the water source of Ein Mabuah in the Prat creek, where a spectacular overlook to Wadi Qelt is open. Afterward, it takes us to the Good Samaritan museum with the magnificent mosaic collection, paves the steps to the St. Georgius Monastery in Faran creek, and ends in Nabi Musa - place where Moses was buried by Muslims tradition.
The start point is the Mishor Adumim gas station. Coming from Jerusalem toward the Dead Sea, you can bay water, coffee, and some snacks and continue the fascinating tour of nature and human behavior in the Judean Desert.
Euthymius was born in Armenia and came to the Judean Desert at the age of 18. He orphaned from his parents at a very young age and was educated in religious institutions. After spending about five years in the monastery founded by Chariton in the Qelt Creek, Euthymius founded a monastery in Wadi Og. Later it was moved to the present location.
The monastery is built around a central courtyard. An arched entrance leads to the monks' compound. The church surrounded by monk's rooms is in the center of the complex: the crypt and a dining room built beneath the courtyard level. The local tradition says that after Euthymius' death, his image was revealed to his followers. Abtimius worked hard to establish a strong foundation of religion and turned many Jews and pagans into Christianity. He was declared a saint, and his memorial day is January 20.
Euthymius established the Great Lent and did a lot to strenth the institutions of the hermit in the desert. A vast reservoir of water was built outside the walls of the monastery, where monks could collect the rainwater in winter days and use them throughout the rest of the year.
The observation point over the Judean Desert was established in memory of six Jewish travelers who were murdered in Wadi Qelt in the 1990s. Dror Forer and Eran Select fell victim to the hands of Hamas members in 1993. Two years later, members of the National Front murdered students of Yeshiva Ehud Bakhrach from Beit-El and Uri Black of Raanana. Two years later, a local bedouin killed Hagit Zbitzki girls from Kfar Adumim and Liat Castiel from Holon.
Here, from the overlooking point, hiking trail with the black markings descends to the Wadi Qelt.
We left the Kfar Adumim for Wadi Qelt. Kfar Adumim is a settlement established in 1979 by Amana Organization. It houses religious and secular people who Earn a living from free professions. The settlement menages all the travelers' activities in Wadi Qelt.
The beautiful views of the flowering desert lead us to the Alon settlement. It was established as a communal settlement in 1990 and is named after Yigal Alon. Initially, Alon was planned as an extension of Kfar Adumim but developed into an independent settlement.
Orit observation point is named after a young girl from a nearby Alon settlement. Orit passed away from a serious illness when she was young and settlers decided to commemorate her memory at this stunning place. That is a time to make a coffee and listen to the desert. You will see a song engraved on a rock. The name of the song is "Every Man Has a Name". This song symbolizes the meaning of the name for humans as well as for his creations.
At weekends the parking lot is usually full. Coming to this beautiful spot of nature is routine for locals. I advise you to leave the car at the lot and take a short pleasant walking down the slope.
The walking path leads to the entrance to Ein Mabua water springs - the part of the Prath creek National Park. Walking down the path you can enjoy the beautiful views of the southern bank and the northern slopes of the creek. The entrance to the complex is free.
Next to the entrance to the Ein Mabua water springs complex the hiking trail marked in red began. This route is an official hiking path to the swimming pool and to the monastery of Chariton where Abtimius began. These facilities are part of the National Park and the entrance fee is needed.
Visiting hours are from 9 am to 4 pm with extension to 5 pm in summer (the period between Passover and Sukkot). The Ein Mabua is the middle spring of the three springs of Perath creek. The water source fills the artificial pool built by the British in 1936 to supply water to Jerusalem.
You can go down the creek and reach Jericho. But beware that the route can be dangerous and security guards should accompany you. During the holiday season, the place is full of travelers, and authorities and volunteers take proactive security actions.
Mosaics of churches at the entrance indicate the monks' dwellings at the place. Monks were always active in the Wadi Qelt region. Bathing in the pool in cold, clear water is pleasant while the proper wardrobes for clothes changing equip the place with adequate comfort.
The former Good Samaritan Inn is a museum managed by the Authority of Nature and National Parks, which presents a collection of beautiful mosaics and architectural items from the Samaria area and the Judean Desert. Origin of the name Good Samaritan is in the New Testament story. Its a story of a man who was robbed and injured during his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Jews did not offer him any help, while a Samaritanian helped him and even done this at his own expense. This behavior can be explained by the fact that Jews were on their way to the temple and were strictly commanded to preserve religious purity. At the same time, the samaritan was not eligible to visit the temple and was enabled to had a deal with anyone. The Christian story teaches you to reach out to your neighbor regardless of class, custom, or tradition. Byzantines identified the place with the New Testament story and built the church. The church and surrounding structures were demolished and rebuilt many times until it became an only inn on the way to Jerusalem.
A lone tree stands on one of the Wadi Midjub tributaries. Nice place to stop and take pictures. If you continue on to the stream, in about 200 meters you can reach the spots which overlook bunkers and canals from the Six-Day War.
Arabs name the St. George's Abbey Mr. Jaris. It is a Greek Orthodox monastery built on the cliffs of Wadi Qelt. The end of the era of solitary hermit and beginning of coenobia is related to the fifth century CE. First Syrian monks came to establish the coenobia and later monks from Greece. A monk named John from the city of Tebi founded the first building here at the end of the fifth century. Other monks followed him. In the sixth century, a monastery was founded in the name of founder George of Choziba, which survived for periods. A monastery was demolished several times and rebuilt, the buildings that can be seen today dates to the 19th-century. The Bedouin population comes here from the Jericho area for grazing, especially in the spring, when the desert is covered with soft vegetation.
The eastern view towards the monastery is equipped with a parking lot. The road to the monastery begins here descending into the wadi and ascending the northern bank. This way is dotted with spectacular views and a magical atmosphere of a narrow canyon with high cliffs that are connected by bridges and canals. Canals allow the raining water flow down the Prath creek and prevent floods.
A relatively narrow path leads to a viewpoint after about 300 meters of slowly walking. The path passes over the cliffs of the wadi. The vantage point allows you to see a wide picture of the monastery and its various buildings.
Spectacular views surprise your imagination along the path leading to the observation point. Among other things, you can distinguish between built and rock-cut water channels along the creek. Prominent crosses in the northern West Bank are towering at high altitudes. These are the landmarks of seclusion caves scattered in the cliffs.
According to Christian tradition, Archangel Gabriel met here Joachim (the father of the Virgin Mary - Jesus' grandfather) and told him that his wife Hannah is pregnant. The ancient Christian tradition says that Elijah the Prophet was hiding in one of the caves, while his exile to the desert. Crows were brought him bread and water. Ten monks lived in the monastery in 2011. Nine of them were from Greece and one from Syria.
The sea level. Descent to the Dead Sea Valley, the lowest place in the world, begins here. If we were crossing the Jerusalem Mountains and the coastal plain, going in the opposite direction, our vehicle would have become a submarine that sank to a depth of 400 meters - this point is distended about 10 kilometers off the coast of Israel.
The monument consists of an environmental sculpture and the memorial sign to the builders of the Dead Sea road from Jerusalem. The road was originally paved before the outbreak of the Six-Day War by the Jordanians but was then in use by Israelis after the war. In the early 2000s, the road was changed and eventually expanded to become a modern road.
At the southernmost point of a paved road in the Hyrcania Valley, you can stop and set up an overnight camp. Admittedly, it is possible only when it comes to 4X4 vehicles and a large group of travelers whose safety is assured both in terms of the number of people and their experience and weapons and in terms of security coordination with military officials of the nearby base. The trough of Kidron creek crosses in front of us. Its water descends from Jerusalem. From here, you can descend to the Dead Sea seashore to the Cliffs reserve or ascend to Hyrcania Fortress and the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas. It is appropriate to spend half a day on each of the tracks in rugged 4X4 SUVs. Please note that there is no cellular network coverage, and you must be equipped with the detailed topography map.
This spot shows the ruin of Abu Tobak and the beginning of the Blue Path descending to Qumran. The ruins are located west of the road while puddles and Qumran are to the east. Monks used these walking trails for periods. The ruin of Abu Tobak is the remnant of a Hasmonean period. You can see the walls and courtyards. Prof. Yossi Patrich reviewed this site.
This point is only 4 meters low the level of Mediterranean sea. The sunset in Hyrcania Valley is one of the most beautiful in the Judean Desert.
The walking trail in Wadi Og towards the Dead Sea starts ten meters before the bridge. Wadi Og is divided into three sections. This section is the lower one. One of the most potent and dangerous floods occurs on this bridge. Flood hunters love the point.
The name of the stream is derived from a thorny plant that grows along its banks. The creek drains the Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. It begins at a ridge of about 800 meters above sea level and ends at a low point about 400 meters below sea level. The beautiful sunset in the hours of dusk leads people here to seclusion and genome from the desert spirit.
According to Muslim tradition, this is the grave of Rei. He was the shepherd of Jethro - the father-in-law of Moshe Rabbeinu when he came down from Zarma to take the Israelites out of slavery.
The burial named by Muslims Nabi Musa (Prophet Musa) is a place for festive pilgrimage for Muslims. After Salah a-Din victory over the Crusaders and the conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, the tradition was born. Masses of Muslims were gathering here and were entering Jerusalem during Easter to secure Muslim supremacy in the Holy City. The fact that unlike any other Muslim holidays, this festival is not related to the Muslim calendar but is fixed by the Greek Orthodox calendar strengthens the origin of the tradition as based on political needs rather than on historical evidence. The holiness to the place was created by a connection with the name of Prophet Musa. Koran does not relate to the Old Testament, although it was explicitly stated that Moses did not enter the Promised Land, and his burial place is unknown in Moab. It is nothing to prevent Muslims from believing that this place is the burial place of Moses. They think that the burial place of Moses was discovered in a dream to Abdallah following which the mosque was established. The festivals near the mosque and the Prophet Musa compound became a day of Palestinian nationalist movement in the early 1920s, from where the riots of the 20th century came.