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Palestinian Territories: Wadi Qelt

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Wadi Qelt | Palestinian Territories | Asia

[Visited: May 2008]

When we left Jericho, the sun was not out yet. We had planned to leave early to be back before the heat would set in; as Jericho is the lowest city in the world at 266 metres below sea level, temperatures rise quickly and the heat during the day is difficult to escape. People in town were surprisingly busy already, apparently following the same logic. Moreover, we expected the heat to be even worse inside Wadi Qelt, our destination of the day. We soon left the oldest city in the world, and walked to a small village at the entrance of Wadi Qelt. A shepherd walked to the road from the fields, with his herd of sheep around him; with the rising sun behind him, a beautiful sight.

Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Bend in Wadi Qelt canyon

We followed the road, which led us higher, so we had a good view over the canyon of Wadi Qelt. At this left side of the canyon, we saw an aqueduct, which transports water through the wadi. On the other side, a path followed the rugged terrain and led into the wadi as well. Our road continued climbing, and soon we felt we were completely alone in this desolate desert landscape of dry, stoney terrain. Then, suddenly, on our left we saw several settlements on hilltops at a distance, further away, a larger town. It is not unlikely that these were some of the illegal settlements Israelis have been and are still establishing on Palestinian soil. The road returned to the wadi proper, and below us, we saw the narrow riverbed, surrounded by high, vertical walls of rock. At one place, we saw some men on the other side of the wadi, and a small religious building built in the rockface.

Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Carrying water through Wadi Qelt

A little later, we reached the road leading down to the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. George, built right in the face of the vertical cliffs. Originally built in the 5th century, destroyed by the Persians and abandoned after the expulsion of the Crusaders, the current building dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. After a steep descent into Wadi Qelt, we found the monastery closed, and decided to walk back using the path on the other side. From here, we could clearly see the micro-climate existing right under the aqueduct: a strip of green below the aqueduct, where otherwise the entire wadi was as dry as the moon. We came across what in winter must be a lovely waterfall, falling directly from a higher ridge. Apart from the many birds, we also spotted many medium-sized mammals swiftly jumping over the rocky surface of the steep wadi walls without any problem. Apart from the animals, we saw only two shepherds in the wadi; a great hiking excursion from Jericho. Quite abruptly, the walls of Wadi Qelt opened up and we found ourselves on the plain, and could see the mosque and other high buildings of Jericho.

Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): St. George Monastery, trees, and cliffs, seen from below
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Looking west into Wadi Qelt canyon
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Path leading through dry Wadi Qelt
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Top of the cliffs of Wadi Qelt
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Mountains over Wadi Qelt: in winter, this is a waterfall
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Cliffs of Wadi Qelt and clouds
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Wadi Qelt and clouds
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Steep cliff of Wadi Qelt
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Shadow of Palestinian on his mule
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Greek Orthodox St. George Monastery hacked out in the cliffs of Wadi Qelt
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Hidden housing: access to a small settlement in the cliffs of Wadi Qel
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Dry riverbed of Wadi Qelt
Picture of Wadi Qelt (Palestinian Territories): Looking into the dry and deep canyon of Wadi Qelt

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