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You only have to travel a short distance from Jerusalem and you are in the depths of the stunning scenery of the Judean Desert. One of the most popular hikes in Israel lies here, along Nahal Prat (Prat Stream.)
This hike is great not only because of its varied and impressive scenery, and peaceful and tranquil surrounds, but also because it offers hiking options for everyone from families to experienced hikers.
Starting at the Ein Prat Nature Reserve, head along the blue footpath which heads down towards Nahal Prat, the stream. The path passes through the desert landscape and after not too long you will reach the beautiful turquoise waters of the stream.
Ein Prat is a spring that can be found in the stream and being a water source, it has attracted human life for many centuries.
The trail passes the settlement of Anatot, and as you walk you’ll pass the Monastery of Firan which is impressively constructed into the desert landscape. Originally built in the 4th Century by the hermit monk Haritoun who spread Christianity in the Judean Desert, the monastery was restored in the 19th century by the White Russian Church. The monastery is quite a spectacle as it is built into the rocky desert landscape, and it's well worth a visit.
As you reach Ein Prat itself, walk along the streambed towards the "eastern dam" where the Nature Reserve ends. At this point, many walkers might like to turn back, but if you wish to continue, follow the trails – blue and then red and you will pass springs and other sites of interest.
You could park one car at the end of the hike ahead of setting off and make this a one-way hike. Regardless of what you decide to do, it’s a beautiful one.
In the area, another spectacular sight is the St George’s Monastery. You’ll need to drive there but the sight of the buildings hanging on the cliffs is worth the journey. The monastery is still inhabited (it was first constructed in the sixth century) by some Greek monks.
Information and opening hours
- To get to the Ein Prat Nature Reserve from Jerusalem, head out of the city on the road to Pisgat Ze’ev (from the French Hill interchange). Continue east on Road 437 to Ananot (Almon), entering the community but immediately turning south onto an unpaved road for about 0.5km. The road becomes paved after a while but proceed with caution as it's bumpy with many turns.
- The reserve is open all year round. In the winter months (October to March) between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and in summer months (April to September), between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- Entrance to the reserve is NIS 27 for an adult, and NIS 14 for a child. Israeli senior citizens receive a 50% discount.
- The reserve can be contacted by telephone: 057-893-6708
- The Firan Monetary, whilst within the reserve is independent and open Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and then 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Modest dress is required.
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