A green and changing oasis in the wasteland
By Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
“Our prospects at Ain Feshkhah seemed as bright as at Jericho, and we were already prepared to pronounce the Dead Sea shore to be the shore of charmed life. Water, vegetation, birds and beasts, geology and hot baths – everything was in abundance". Henry Baker Tristram, The Land of Israel: A Journal of Travels in Palestine, 1866.
Einot Tsukim or En Fashkha, as it is also known (Fashkha means split or broken), is the lowest nature reserve in the world and one of the most beautiful in Israel. This oasis of green lies between the brownish barren fault scarp to the west and the blue Dead Sea. Einot Tsukim is divided into three areas: the northern “closed reserve", the central “visitors reserve” , and the southern “hidden reserve”.
The northern part is completely closed to visitors, except for scientists, who enter rarely at the invitation of the INPA to ensure no harm comes to it. There, nature is allowed to have the last word without human intervention. It is approximately 2,700 dunams (675 acres) in size. The approximately 500-dunam central section contains wading and swimming pools filled by natural spring water, where visitors can enjoy the water and have access to shade, toilets, picnic tables surrounded by greenery.
This part of the reserve also contains the archaeological site from the Second Temple period. It was excavated for the first time from 1955 to 1957 by the French archaeologist Roland de Vaux, the excavator of nearby Qumran. De Vaux linked the two sites, positing that Einot Tsukim was a farm where Essenes raised crops and animals. Professor Yizhar Hirschfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem completed his excavation in 2000, discovering a large complex from the Herodian period, including a manor house, irrigation pool, garden and a large installation, unique in the country where balsam perfume may have been produced
How to get there?
The Einot Tsukim reserve is located on the northern Dead Sea coast along road 90, three kilometers south of Kibbutz Kalia. The 1,500-dunam southern part of the reserve, the “hidden reserve” may be visited only on tours guided by INPA guides, so as both to protect nature and at the same time allow visitors to enjoy it. Guided tours must be reserved in advance.