The Trip of the Sunrises. Israel, En Gedi, Wadi David

The fascinating world of En Gedi Nature Reserve, Wadi David

My beloved is unto me a cluster of henna blossoms From the vineyards of En Gedi“Song of Songs

6 AM and I was staying in front of my hut at Metzoke Dragot Hostel watching how the haze above the Dead Sea was starting to glow when the sun was rising from behind the Moab Mountains in Jordan.

It was the beginning of a new day and while the sun was becoming more bright I was thinking how interesting the path of my life was until that moment. Probably it was one of those moments in which I was trying to find an answer to “the meaning of life “ question. Considering where I was there was nothing strange about it, for millennia people were coming here in search of themselves and to find answers.

The Sunrise on the Dead Sea Shores, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
The Sunrise on the Dead Sea Shores, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Metzoke Dragot Hostel, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Metzoke Dragot Hostel, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

The plan for that day was to see En Gedi. Since again, I haven`t done my homework I had no idea what was I going to find. I can’t say I felt sorry for not doing it, the pleasure of discovery was more intense this way. I know it is a bit unorthodox, but is my way of travelling, so, I like it this way.

The Dead Sea from En Gedi Nature Park, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
The Dead Sea from En Gedi Nature Park, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
En Gedi Nature Park, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
En Gedi Nature Park, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

En Gedi lies at the edge of the Judean Desert on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. Two Valleys/Wadies are crossing this area, Wadi David and Wadi Arugot. That day I was exploring Wadi David named after King David which at the year 1000 BCE came here to find refuge from the wrath of King Saul. But according to the ruins of the temple from the Bronze Age, this wadi was inhabited since 5000 years ago.

Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felcia Catalinoiu
Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felcia Catalinoiu
Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

The altitude starts at +200 meters and goes to -400m, the difference in elevation makes the landscape quite spectacular and the walls very steep. Wadi David was carved by the flowing waters of David`s Spring but also from the rain waters which are gathered from the plateau and are running down towards the sea when it rains. This enabled the formation of natural pools on its way.

Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felcia Catalinoiu
Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

 

There is a network of trails, some easier and some more difficult but I took the trail that took me to David`s Waterfall and then to Dodim Cave

The moment I arrived I was amazed. The lush vegetation along the stream in that arid zone, the large varieties of birds and small animals and the clear water that was falling down the walls covered by green moss and ferns. It looked like a fairytale and I knew then that the fascination of the desert is always based on something. 

David`s Waterfall, Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felcia Catalinoiu
David`s Waterfall, Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

 

The Waterfalls of Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felcia Catalinoiu
The Waterfalls of Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

After David`s Waterfall, I followed the trail which took me to Dodim Cave. From place to place natural pools were displaying their cooling waters. The heat was overwhelming and those pools were what I need it. Word of advice, keep your swimsuit close to you because definitely, you are going to need it.

The natural pools of Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felcia Catalinoiu
The natural pools of Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

From David`s Fall to Dodim Cave the trail it is a bit more difficult but is so rewarding. When bathing at Dodim Cave you can forget all the tiredness.

While I was bathing in the clear cool water and looking at the small waterfall that was filling the pool I was thinking that the legends with nymphae probably were born in places like this.

udim Cave, Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Dodim Cave, Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
udim Cave, Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Dodim Cave, Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

There, nature was choosing to embrace me the traveller with its cool fresh waters and to let me hide behind the fern walls. The stones were covered with green moss so I will not hurt myself when my head was resting on it. I wanted the moment to last until the last memory of my life would be forever erased from my mind.

Dudim Cave, Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Dodim Cave, Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
The natural pools of Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felcia Catalinoiu
The natural pools of Wadi David, En Gedi, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

That day I learned that the En Gedi is not always what it seems and it might seem so inhospitable, but the moment you get to know it, a magnificent world reveals to you. That moment you find yourself there it is so hard to say goodbye.

I left the wadi but I could still hear the gigglish sound of the water falling, I was happy and still wet with a black scarf around my body.  For few hours  I was immersed into another world, a world that is still there now..in my memories…

En Gedi Spring, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
En Gedi Spring, Israel, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

The Trip of the Sunrises. Israel, Wadi Dragot

Wadi Dragot, probably the most challenging and spectacular canyon in the Judean Desert

Away from a bustling and never sleeping Tel Aviv and from the prayers rising to the sky from the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, deep in the Judean Desert, winding its way towards The Dead Sea, lies the most scenic and challenging canyon in Israel, Wadi Dragot or Wadi Darga. Nature was particularly generous with the deserts of Israel because for millennia was continuously carving deep hidden valleys, where rapid waterfalls were creating natural pools and high dry falls. Life was thriving in those places and even now a very rich flora and fauna can be found despite the dryness around.  Amazingly, this magnificent place is lesser known to travellers since most of Israel tourism is a religious one and not too many dare to search thoroughly the desert. Although lesser known to the foreign tourist seems to be popular among Israelis in search for some adrenaline rush because this particular trail is difficult and spectacular at the same time. I can’t say I knew about it either, but somehow, the choices I made during this trip took me right in the vicinity of this astonishing place.

The Trip of the Sunrises. Israel, Wadi Dragot

Roque Nublo, The Clouded Rock of Gran Canaria

Roque Nublo, the pillar of heaven and the most iconic landmark of Gran Canaria

 

The tallest standing rock, 80m, Roque Nublo defies gravity, seeming that it needs just a push to fall in one of the steep valleys around it. Probably one day it will. But till then, it will continue to guard over the island. Same as its brother Roque Bentayga, it is a volcanic plug made of basalt, a reminiscence of Caldera de Tejeda. It is the world biggest natural crags of volcanic origin and it stands at 1813m altitude.  After its conception, the forces of nature were constantly shaping and chiselling it for millions of years. The volcanic activity that gave birth to Roque Nublo happened 4,5 million years ago. Durig this period it was carved out from the bulk of the Island by the skilled hands of forces of nature while it was looking at this brother in pain Pico del Teide on the neighbouring Tenerife Island.

Roque Nublo, The Clouded Rock of Gran Canaria

Roque Bentayga,Pillars of the Sky. Gran Canaria

Roque Bentayga, one of the most fascinating and mysterious Gran Canarian landmarks

There is no place in Gran Canaria more mysterious than Roque Bentayga. Its story begins million years back when Gran Canaria was rising from the oceans waters due to volcanic activity. Roque Bentayga is the result of millennia of constant erosion that started the moment this island was formed. It is a former volcanic plug, part of Caldera de Tejeda,  made out of basalt. Due to its solidity is still standing despite the fact that the surrounding softer materials were washed away by the rainfalls and rockslides. A stand alone rock which is indubitably the focal point of a huge erosion crater. This majestic rock that dominates the valley having its past shrouded in mystery did not reveal yet its secrets.

Roque Bentayga,Pillars of the Sky. Gran Canaria

Playa de Guigui, Gran Canaria`s Epic Trail

Hiking into the wild to reach the remote Playa de Guigui

Guigui is one of the secluded and hard-to-reach beaches of Gran Canaria and with this two attributes it became imperative to see it. At the beginning of my vacation, I thought that I will spend a certain amount of time on the beach but ironically, most of the time I was in the mountains, either hiking or driving from one place to another. I was not expecting the island to be so sensational, neither the beach in Maspalomas to be the wind`s playground. Since the Ocean was not playing nice I turned my eyes to the roughness and wilderness of the island and one day, Andra and I we decided to hike to Guigui, a remote beach on the hard-to-reach west coast of the island.

Playa de Guigui, Gran Canaria`s Epic Trail

Gran Canaria Island, probably one of the most spectacular Canary Islands

Another day, anther epic road on this stunning island

My second day on Gran Canaria Island begins early in the morning while sipping my coffee on the terrace. Our small casita rural was placed in Barranco Saint Bartolome the Tirajana 7 km from Maspalomas. It was rented with Airbnb and by far the best choice. I liked it more than a 4 stars hotel. Cosy and surrounded by silence gave me the perfect environment to enjoy my morning coffee. The air was crisp and I was drinking my coffee while Carlos Mendes the cat was still trying to jump on my lap. Since I did not want to accept downloading fleas from him I tried to ignore his cute glance that was following my moves. Somewhere, in the distance, a parrot was annoyingly trying to show that he can sing. I bet none told him that he should stick to his day job. Every sip of coffee was sending waves of heat through my body. I was waking up little by little. There was no wifi, therefore, I was disconnected from the rest of the world. The cup of coffee and I were sharing a moment…It was divine!

It was the second day and after doing the exploring in the first day we were thinking to hit the beach. The pleasures of the ocean were one of the reasons I came here in the middle of Winter after all.

The search for the less windy beach that day took us to the North of Gran Canaria Island, to Puerto de las Nieves.

Gran Canaria Island, probably one of the most spectacular Canary Islands

Gran Canaria, a marvel of the Atlantic Ocean

First Day. Driving on GC210 one of the most scenic and dangerous roads of Gran Canaria

It was few months since my last escape and I was beginning to become impatient. Being January and really not fond of Winter my eyes turned towards the Canary Islands once more. This time, Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria.…this name was haunting my adulthood since I was reading the book ``Gran Canaria“ by A. J. Cronin when I was a teenager. Life works in a mysterious way, because after so many years, here I was. Flight ticket with my buddy Ryanair. Checked! One casita rural in Barranco Saint Bartolome de Tirajana booked with Airbnb. Checked! One Opel Astra rented with CICAR. Checked! What else..? I have the feeling I forgot something…Oh yes. One credit card. Checked!

I had the money, I had the tools, so it was time for fiestaaaa!!! I mean, it was time to explore the Island. Gran Canaria, a marvel of the Atlantic Ocean

2016, The Highlights

A year of travels, in images.

1.Portugal

February.  The first trip of the year to a country which took me by surprise with its beauty.  My trip has begun in Porto exploring the Douro Vally. Followed by a long drive along the coast to Algarve, ending my trip in Lisbon where I spent so little time because I fell irremediably in love with Sintra.

2016, The Highlights

Epic trail. Masca Gorge, Tenerife Island

Rough, spectacular, wild…only a few attributes of this exhilarating  Pirates trail

I did some travelling since my visit to Tenerife and although I saw some beautiful places, Tenerife remains one of my favourite places. Sure, Portugal is also running for this place but Tenerife and Portugal are two different experiences…

There were many things which made me adore Tenerife but this time I will talk about the most spectacular trail I EVER DONE, Masca Gorge.

Masca Gorge is part of Teno Rural Park placed on the west of the island. It is one of the most sensational parts of the islands and if you happen to land at Tenerife Sur airport during the day you cant miss it. When approached  by car is not less spectacular, the road is winding through some scenic landscape. Indulge yourself with some adrenalin by crossing the park taking the road from Santiago del Teide to Buenavista del Nte. It will be worth it. If you add some fog , wind and twilight the fun is guaranteed. Proceed with cautious, though. The road is appealingly beautiful but none the less dangerous.

Epic trail. Masca Gorge, Tenerife Island

Going South. Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

When a Sunday morning starts with a sudden urge to drink my coffee in… Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Rainy and awfully crappy Sunday morning. By the look of it, seemed like I would be confined indoors for the rest of the day and definitely this wasn’t an option for me. So, after a short brainstorming with my friend Crina we decided to run south. In this case south means, Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo. There was a logic behind our decision. We were hoping to leave somehow the rain behind and we knew that Veliko would be an interesting destination as well. Actually, that day we did not have a better option..therefore, against all odds, it turned out to be a good choice after all.

Going South. Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria