Springs, ancient site, unique flora and fauna. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has recently set up two large pools as a solution to the problems created by the decrease in the level of the Dead Sea and the drying out of habitats in the Reserve. The accessible path enables people with disabilities to get into the swimming pools in the open reserve.
Main points of interest:
Desert oasis flora and fauna
An ancient farm
A guided tour of the Hidden Reserve (please check when tours leave)
Spring water swimming pool
Lookout balcony near the entrance to the Reserve
Israel Nature and Parks Authority activities to improve visitor services and preserve the site
The Authority has set up a parking area at the site, toilets, changing rooms and a campsite, and put up illustrative signs. The Authority has laid out an accessible path to the archaeological site and the Tamar Pool, and has dug out pools in the closed reserve in order to deal with the problem of the decrease in the level of the Dead Sea. The Authority offers guided tours of the Reserve on a regular basis.
How to get here:
Travel south from Almog junction on the Dead Sea Road (Route 90). 3 km after Qumran turn left (east) into the Reserve.
Flowing springs burst forth between the HaAtakim Cliff and the beaches of the Dead Sea, with waters full of life flowing in clear rivulets towards the salty waters of the Dead Sea. Along their way the waters create a rich and unique world and a range of living habitats. This is the Einot Tsukim Nature Reserve (Ein Feshkha).
In terms of plantlife, the Tamarix nilotica and the Tamarix tetragyna dominate most of the area, thanks to their resistance to salts.
Closer to the water there is more riverbank growth, in particular the common reed and Typha domingensis.
The Juncus acutus and Juncus arabicus are also widespread - thin and sharp-stemmed bushes.
The wildlife here is unique. Four species of fish swim in the rivulets and pools: the iridescent toothcarp, the Dead Sea toothcarp, the blue tilapia, and the redbelly tilapia. The Dead Sea toothcarp is a local species which exists only in the springs around the Dead Sea.
Another unique animal is the weaver ant. The ant eats the sweet secretions (‘honey dew’) of the aphids that live in the trees.
The ants ‘milk’ the aphids, but also weave nests to protect them from predators. You can see the ‘dairies’ hanging from the Tamarix trees. They are around 20 cm long.
There are many birds in the Einot Tsukim Nature Reserve, including water and swamp birds around the spring. An interesting bird which nests in the Reserve is the Dead Sea sparrow. It builds its large nest in the Tamarix trees. There are also mammals living in the Reserve, mainly jackals and porcupines.
The Einot Tsukim Nature Reserve also includes the Hidden Reserve. This part of the Reserve can only be visited under the guidance of a staff member. In winter there are guided tours at fixed hours every weekend and on Jewish holidays.
1. Archaeological remains of a farm
The accessible path starts at the cash desk and continues south. After around 100 m it reaches a viewpoint overlooking an archaeological complex. Researchers have established that this was farm in the Second Temple period - from the Hasmoneans (130 BC) until the time of the Great Revolt (68 AD). The farm may have belonged to members of the Qumran sect, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In an excavation of the site in 1954, a two-storey building was uncovered, consisting of rooms surrounding a courtyard. A branched system for transporting water, as well as a collection pool and a settling pool, were found in the agricultural area. Based on recent excavations, archaeologist Yizhar Hirschfeld has concluded that the farm specialised in ‘persimmon oil’ for anointing and incense. It seems that the farm grew dates for the special date ‘honey’ that Jericho became famous for.
2. Tamar Pool
The accessible path reaches the Tamar Pool, a round and deep pool for paddling and wading. An electronic wheelchair lift is available to help people with impaired mobility to get into the water.
The Tamar Pool is open for swimming every day throughout July-August. From mid-March until the end of November the pool is open only on weekends and holidays. On days when the pool is open there is a lifeguarding service.
The accessible path goes as far as the Kaneh Pool and the Soof Lake, very close to the Tamar Pool.
3. Tsaftsafa Pool
The rest of the path is not wheelchair accessible.
We would recommend continuing a little way east to the Tsaftsafa Pool. Here a shallow rivulet flows next to Euphrates poplar trees, known for the range of the shapes of their leaves. There are picnic tables set up in shaded areas between the rivulets, and inside the rivulets the iridescent toothcarp (the males are blue and spotty) and the Dead Sea toothcarp (the males have two dark stripes on their tailfins) swim. These are not more than 7 cm long. Two larger species of fish are the blue tilapia and the redbelly tilapia.
On the way to the pools you can see a yellow sign which marks the level of the Dead Sea as it was in 1985. The distant view of the Sea today illustrates the sad state of affairs for the lake which is receding before our very eyes.
The Hidden Reserve
The Hidden Reserve can only be visited under the guidance of Israel Nature and Parks Authority staff. Tours leave regularly on weekends, and at other times you can book a tour in advance with the Reserve staff.
The tour of the Hidden Reserve is fascinating. Visitors will discover flowing rivulets, along with natural pools and subverted canyons in the clay-like landscape, wet plantlife and unique wildlife such as the weaver ant and rare species of fish.