Einot Tzukim is a magical place where abundant vegetation thrives at the foot of cliffs and thick cane and reeds surround pools of crystal-clear green-blue water. Situated in the Judean Desert on the northern shore of the Dead Sea, Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve is the lowest oasis in the world. Einot Tzukim means cliff springs in Hebrew and the oasis is called Ein Feshkha in Arabic. The pools of Einot Tzukim are fed by two springs - Ain Feshkhah and Ain et Tannur, both originate at the foot of the He’etekim Cliffs and flow into pools then continue to the Dead Sea. The water is described as slightly brackish (slightly salty) and with a sulfurous odor. As a rare freshwater source in the harsh desert environment, Einot Tzukim attracts birds, animals, and people looking for a respite from the heat in the pools and lush greenery.
What to Do at Einot Tzukim
The Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve has three sections - the public can enjoy the central section where there are fresh-water pools and facilities like showers, toilets, hike trails, and picnic tables. This is also where the archaeological remains are located. Visitors to Einot Tzukim can swim and wade in the natural pools near the reserve entrance. Tamar Pool is one of the deepest pools in the reserve. It is open for swimming daily in July and August and on weekends and holidays from mid-March to the end of November. When Tamar Pool is open there is a lifeguard on duty. There are marked hike trails through the nature reserve that take you past places of interest and observation points where you can look out over the Dead Sea. You can see where the shoreline of the Dead Sea once reached and how it has receded over the years. Each year the Dead Sea loses about a meter (3ft) so there is no longer a beach at Einot Tzukim. A walk through the wetlands gives you a glimpse at the rare flora and fauna of the oasis on the Dead Sea shore. The southern section or “Hidden Reserve” is where the springs originate and it is only open to organized groups while the northern section is only open to scientists and staff.
Remains of Ancient Civilizations at Einot Tzukim
In addition to the natural wonders of Einot Tzukim it is also the site of archaeological remains. Excavations uncovered remains of a Roman Era farm from about the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. The farm would have had a two-story dwelling, a storage room, a Jewish ritual bath, and an enclosed courtyard. The farm may have been used to manufacture balsam perfume as it had the necessary facilities such as water channels, a pool for soaking the perfume essence, and a cell for storage. Ancient Einot Tzukim lacked ovens for the final part of the balsam production process which may have been done at nearby Qumran where ovens were found. The Jewish sect living at Qumran 2,000 years ago may have run the Einot Tzukim farm. Archaeological evidence shows that the Einot Tzukim farm was destroyed during the Great Revolt of c.66-70AD and after a time it was re-inhabited until being destroyed again in the Bar Kokhba Revolt of c.132-135 AD.