Having driven almost 1242 miles around Israel, our trip was over. We’re going from Makhtesh Ramon to the north towards Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv from where we were supposed to fly off to Poland in the evening. The plan included a short trip to Avdat National Park, which was on the way. Sipping my morning coffee and planning the route I didn’t expect that I would remember this trip to this very day.
It might seem that Makhtesh Ramon I wrote about earlier is the only attraction of the Negev Desert. Meanwhile, it’s worth seeing Ein Avdat National Park located nearby the road no 40. The name Ein in Hebrew and Arabic means the source, while Avdat comes from the name of the nearby city.
It is therefore impossible to hide that Ein Avdat is full of water. Located in the river valley it’s one of the most surprising places in Israel. Here you can see interesting rock formations, lush vegetation for Israeli sever conditions and a waterfall.
Surely this place wouldn’t make such an impression if it weren’t for one small detail, Ein Avdat is actually located in the centre of the Negev Desert, Israel. Due to the water and lush vegetation here, the park is the place of residence of many animals, including popular capricorns.
The path leads along the high cliffs. You can see the characteristic formations that result from the erosive water activity. Interestingly, Ein Avdat doesn’t seem to be just a work of nature.
Walking along the canyon you can see numerous stairs and caves craved in the rocks. It is a remnant of the Byzantine era when the place was inhabited by monks.
You can visit the park in two ways: a longer and shorter route. The shorter route starts in the lower parking lot, leads to the largest waterfall and back. It counts about 3 km, and it takes about 1,5 hour.
The second route starts at the same location, but further leads to the top of the canyon. Behind the last waterfall it goes up steep. Due to the sharp, narrow approach, this is a one-way path, and it takes about 3 hours to complete the entire route. Admission ticket costs 28 shekels (14 shekels – children, 24 shekels – students) or it’s free after buying Israel Pass.
After crossing the whole trail and a short stop, we decided to go back to the parking lot. I didn’t expect that I would remember this route until today with chills on my back. I was aware of the threats in Israel, I bought very expensive insurance, which also included war activities.
Unfortunate coincidence during our stay in November 2019 from Gaza Strip, Palestinian Jihad resumed rocket attack on Israel. Most of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, but several fell into Israel. Including one which bombarded highway area near which we were supposed to be passing that day. As a result, Israel retaliated with an air attack. We were “lucky” that it coincided with our visit to Ein Avdat, which was only about 80 km (49 miles) from Gaza Strip.
The way back to the parking lot was supposed to be our last chance to see the beauty of Israel, we wanted to enjoy this last moment in this country surrounded by such wonderful landscapes.
Meanwhile, suddenly we heard a series of explosions, which were further intensified by deaf echo created by the high walls of the canyon. Without knowing the exact location of military actions, worst thoughts come to mind and tension further increases when realising being actually ′′ trapped′′ between large rock blocks.
After the outbreak stopped, there was silence, we’re relieved. Unfortunately, our peace didn’t last long, because after a moment we heard an even bigger bang. We saw flying right over our heads several Israeli fighters, and then the next explosions. We speeded up the pace to get in the parking lot asap. Trust me I didn’t expect the way back could take so little time.
Soon after returning to the car, the situation calmed down, and we were aware that we had to continue the route to the airport, which was supposed to go even closer to Gaza Strip. With our heart in our mouth, we were able to reach our destination, but to this day this situation gives me chills.
Fortunately, our route to the airport went without further such attractions. We didn’t expect to see one more surprise. Not far from Ein Avdat, we saw a huge tower that blinded us by the glow of sunlight reflecting from it. It was Ashalim Solar Tower.
The tower reaches 250 meters and is one of the tallest structures of this type in the world. At its base, on an area of 300 hectares (740 acres), there are mirrors, directing sunlight to the top of the tower. The boiler at the top generates a temperature reaching 600 degrees Celsius (1112 Fahrenheit).
This is how the steam is produced, which is then directed towards the base of the tower, where the electricity is generated, it’s sufficient to power 120 000houses.
I will honestly admit that for the first time in my life I saw such a structure, the whole thing is amazing, it literally looks like a giant bulb. Ashalim is one of those attractions which you won’t find in guidebooks. It’s worth taking a look here when you’re in Ein Avdat area 😉