The Ultimate guide for touring Wadi Qelt.
A detailed GuideBook for visiting all the main landmarks in Wadi Qelt
- St. George Monastery.
- Ein Prat
- Faran Monastery.
- Ein Maboa.
- Ein Qelt
- The Good Samaritan Inn Mosaic Museum
About half an hour’s drive from the busy and noisy center of Jerusalem hides Wadi Qelt. There you’ll find serene desert silence, disturbed only by the sound of water rushing through a gorge. Wadi Qelt is a stream that runs from the northwestern slopes of the Judaean Desert just outside Jerusalem and down to the city of Jericho. It’s one of the biggest and only sources of running water in the Judean Desert.
The area has a long human history. Look around, and you’ll be able to spot the ruins of the ancient aqueducts that once delivered precious water to Jericho. The area attracted monks from the early days of Christianity. The monasteries are built hanging from the cliffs of the canyon, creating an overwhelming sight.
There many springs, pools and waterfalls along the stream that provide great spots for picnicking and refreshing swimming opportunities.
Ein Prat is the biggest spring of Wadi Qelt. The flow of the spring is constant and the influence of the seasons is minimal. The daily flow rate is about 1,500 cubic meters per day on average. (A very unique quantity for this dry desert area!)
As of 1927, Ein Prat supplied drinking water to the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The use of spring water was halted after the connection of East Jerusalem to the water supply of West Jerusalem. The original “pump house” is today the office building of the National Park Authority and is used as tourist service center.
In the near area of the main spring are a few grooves and pools perfect for a picnic.
Access to the Spring is by a short and easy walk from the National Park entrance. (GPS 31.831546, 35.306844)
National Park Opening Hours:
Summer hours: Sunday–Thursday and Saturday: 08:00 – 17:00, Friday and holiday eves: 08:00 – 16:00.
Winter hours: Sunday–Thursday and Saturday: 08:00 – 16:00, Friday and holiday eves: 08:00 – 15:00.
A bit further upstream hanging on the southern cliff of the canyon is the Faran monastery. The monastery (also known as the Chariton Monastery) is the first Christian monastery to be built in the Judean Desert around 330 CE. The monastery was built in by the monk Chariton, who was considered the founder of the Judean desert nuns. The monastery was destroyed by the Persians in 614 CE, but was rebuilt at the end of the 19th century by the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery is surrounded by orchards, agricultural terraces and cisterns, as well as the remains of buildings that once housed pilgrims, revealing its importance on the ancient pilgrims’ route. some of the rooms and chapels are built around caves in which the first monks lived. At the heart of the monastery is the traditional tomb of Haritoun. The monastery is still intermittently inhabited.
visiting inside the monastery is possible only in coordination with the local monk. Phone: +972-52-5399075. Access the same as for Ein Prat.
Aqueducts along the Wadi
The ancient aqueduct from the time of King Herod, which transferred water to the Kipros Fortress near Jericho is mostly destroyed. But clear remains of it can be spotted along the hiking trail that connects Ein Prat and Ein Maboa.
Another concrete aqueduct was built during the British mandate in Palestine. The upper section is now dry and partly destroyed, but the lower section east of Ein Qelt still runs water serving the fields around Jericho.
Ein Maboa is a unique natural phenomenon. the spring’s pool empties completely and refills again throughout the day. The cycle occurs every few hours or every few days depending on the water flow in the spring. Access is with a very short walk from the road down from the village Alon (GPS 31.838297, 35.352349). Entrance is free. The spring water flows into a square stone pool and the surroundings are regulated with sitting areas. It’s a very popular picnic spot that sometimes get very crowded.
Ein Qelt is the main spring at the lower section of the Wadi. The water flows down a nice waterfall into a beautiful natural pool. A great picnic spot. Access is via a Black marked dirt road that starts near the village Mizpe Yericho. (GPS 31.838297, 35.352349) From the end of the road walk further about 20 minutes to the spring along a black marked foot path . (Free entrance).
Monastery of St. George of Choziba
The Monastery of St. George of Choziba is the most famous landmark in Wadi Qelt and justly so. The cliff-hanging complex, first established around AD 500, with its ancient chapel and gardens, is active and inhabited by Greek Orthodox monks to this day. Established during the Byzantine period, it was destroyed by the Persians in AD 614, rebuilt in the 12th century during the Crusader period, abandoned after their defeat, and rebuilt again by Greek monks starting at the end of the 19th century.
Visiting the Monastery:
Access in via a very narrow and winding road near the village of Mitzpe Yericho (GPS 31.843310, 35.414901). From this point there is a steep 1 km road (With no car access) that goes down to the Monastery. Go first to the Iconic view-point where all the famous pictures of the complex are taken. The view-point is a few minutes walk from the parking on an easy but unmarked path that starts to the left of the junction. To visit the monastery you can either walk down the road or ride a donkey (for a negotiable fee).
The monastery is open daily except on Sundays and certain holidays, between 9 am and 1 pm. There is a strict dress code. No shorts for men; no trousers of any sort for women, women must wear a long skirt, and a modest top.
The Good Samaritan Inn Mosaic Museum
This is not inside Wadi Qelt. But if you are here don’t miss this amazing museum showing a collection of Mosaic floors found in ruins across the West Bank and Gaza.
The musem is located in a restored inn from the ottaman period. However, the location situaed on the main road from jerusalem to Jericho was and active inn since ancient times and According to the tradition, it was the location of the event of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10 30-35). (GPS 31.816159, 35.359228)