Ein Gedi National Park, Israel

West of the Dead Sea lies Ein Gedi National Park, an area with terrain similar to that of San Diego. A beautiful, arid mountainous region, Ein Gedi is how I pictured all of Israel.

With rocky crags, caves, waterfalls, flora and fauna, Ein Gedi offers something for everyone. Hikers will enjoy exploring outcroppings and caves, while animal lovers get their fill of ibex, mountain goats and hyrax (a rock badger) that roam freely and are not too skittish.

Ein Gedi is described in the Old Testament book of Samuel as the place where David, who had been on the run for 10 years, and his army of men hid in a cave from King Saul. King Saul, looking to relieve himself, came into the cave. David had the opportunity to slay Saul but choose not to, honoring the Lord instead.

Hike the long trail and you’ll see the upper portion of David's cave. Seismic activity caused the cave to split – it no longer looks “cave-like,” but more like a big opening. Were it not for the stalactites, you'd never know the opening was a cave.

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