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Nahal Og. Deir Mukalikh cave

Judean Desert

 

Rappelling into the cave.

 

 

The route quality:   ***   

 

 

The route type:

   

Hiking along a canyon with one rappelling into a cave located above an ancient monastery ruins.

The canyon is dry all the year round but be wary about floods during winter rains.

The rappelling spot is equipped with bolts, but bring slings and carabiners. *  

 

About the canyon, the monastery and the cave:

 

The canyon is pretty long but easy and beautiful and worth walking. Marked trail runs along the canyon and in some places it is equipped with metal holds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient ruins of a Byzantine monastery are located in the middle part of the canyon on its north slopes. There are some walls, a tower and a few underground storages, - be aware of holes!..

Much to my surprise, the information in the web about the monastery is very scant. The few words I have found are following:

"Euthymius (also: Euthemius, 377-473 CE) was one of the most prominent fathers of the Judean Desert Monasticism, and often called "St Euthymius the Great".

He was born in Melitea in Armenia (Middle Eastern Turkey) to a noble family, and until the age of 29 was in charge of the monasteries in his home region.

He came to the Holy Land as a Christian pilgrim (406 BC), and then moved to the Laura of Faran (Pharan, in Wady Qelt), which was directed by the monk Chariton.

After five years, at the age of 34, he moved with his fellow hermit Theoktistus to a cave located on the cliffs of Nahal Og (Wadi Mukelik in the upper section of Og). Later, more hermits joined them to form a monastery in the form of a Coenobium - the first in Judean desert."

The source:

http://www.biblewalks.com/sites/EuthemiusMonastery.html

 

Deir Mukalikh cave is located right above the monastery and some time it was a part of the complex.

As for me, it's a kind of mystery how the monks have got into the cave because nowadays one can get inside by rappelling only...

The walls and the ceiling of the cave are painted with a bit naive but still very beautiful and colorful frescos of saints that partly survived to our time despite vandalism. PLEASE, DON'T DEMAGE THEM IN ANY WAY!!! Even if you are really talented painter, please, draw on the walls of your own cave...

 

 

 

 

The "tower" - a part of the monastery

 

 

Some ancient underground storage near the monastery

 

 

 

 

The frescos inside the cave:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting there:

 

Nahal Og runs through Judean Desert along the road 1 that connects Jerusalem with Dead Sea.

Pay attention: All the region is a part of the Palestinian National Authority.

The nahal Og trail (green marks) starts from the road near Mitspe Yeriho settlement and finally ends near Almog settlement. Both places are safe to leave cars, but it is pretty long to hike all the trail and it will leave you with not enough time (and strength...) for the cave exploration.

A side road starts at road 1 between Mitspe Yeriho and Almog (between road marks 89km and 90km) and goes in south direction. After 4.6 km it crosses nahal Og (on a prominent bridge) and this fact allows to divide the trail in two almost equal parts.  

As the monastery is located in the middle of the upper part, the easiest and most natural way to get to the cave is to start from Mitspe Yeriho and to finish at the bridge but you should to take in account that the bridge doesn't seem to be a safe place to leave a car. So you should arrange a pick-up at the end of your hike out.

 

Interesting fact:

While driving on the side road mentioned above, you pass a kind of "One Thousand and One Nights" style buildings (1.5km from the road 1).

This is so-called Nabi Musa - the place of Moses grave according to Muslims but we are not agreed with them. :-) 

 

After 6.5km hike from Mitzpe Yeriho along the "green" trail you will come to ruins of the monastery. The cave is just above and cannot be seen from the trail.

In order to see the cave from a distance (and to shoot great pictures...) you have to cross the canyon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rappelling site description:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to get to the rappelling station you have to climb up, starting from the trail some 50 meters before the monastery ruins. Keep climbing the easiest way through a rocky band, then move up and right on scree slopes in the direction of a noticeable “balcony” and then move right along the “balcony”. You cannot miss the station that consists of several climbing bolts. The bolts are not connected between them, so bring your own slings and carabiners. *

 

 

Climbing to the rappelling station

 

 

The “rocky band”

 

 

At the rappelling station

 

 

 

 

 

Keep left while rappelling – not as I do on the picture!.. :-)

 

 

Rappelling to the cave entrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You need to have two 30m long ropes. Rappel first 12 meters to the cave entrance. While rappelling, keep very left side (when you are facing the slope) in order to land on a small ledge at the cave entrance. Be careful when you disconnect yourself from the rope!

 

 

Rappelling to the cave entrance

 

 

Entering into the cave

 

 

Inside the cave

 

 

 

 

When your exploration of the cave is finished, you can continue to rappel another 15m to the trail.

 

 

Frescos inside the cave

 

 

Frescos inside the cave

 

 

Rappelling from the cave to the trail

 

 

 

 

 

After visiting the Deir Mukalikh cave you should continue to hike down the canyon for 2.6km - till the bridge.

The scenery during this hike is beautiful and diverse: 

 

 

A view back on the “tower”

 

 

A view back in the monastery direction

 

 

Walls of the monastery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some hermit’s cells?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The route quality:

 

*****  - The only one of its kind. A "must do" trip!

****    - Very interesting, highly recommended!

***      - Pretty nice route.

**        - Inexpressive one.

*          - Do it if you have nothing to do...

 

 

* Pay attention! The information is updated for March 2012. Try to check it before starting on your trip.