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Nahal Rahaf

Judean Desert

 

 

Rappelling from the 8th dry fall

 

 

The route quality:   ****  

 

 

The route type:

 

Rappelling trip. All rappelling stations are equipped with glue-in bolts. Swimming is required all the year round!

Attention: Be aware about floods during winter rains!

 

 

Getting there:

 

Drive on the road number 90 along Dead Sea. On the stretch between Masada junction and Neve Zohar (between road marks 224 and 225 km) look for a dirt road which branches right. There is the sign "nahal Rahaf" on the roadside. Get off the main road and park here or 200-250m farther at the start of the footpath.

Follow the trail marked with green. Skip two trails which branch right (the "black" trail leads down into the canyon and joins the canyon bed below the last dry fall. It's actually the exit trail. The "blue" trail leads down into the canyon and joins the canyon bed between Upper Rahaf and Lower Rahaf (see below)) and continue on the "green" trail.

Eventually the "green" trail reaches the plateau. Follow till the place where a blue marks branch right a second time. Follow the "blue" trail till the place where it meets another trail which msrked with black marks. Turn right to the "black" trail and descend into the wadi of nahal Rahaf. Once in the wadi, leave the trail and enter into the canyon.

Ascent with the trail to Mount Elazar plateau and walk west along the edge (400m of height gain; the views of Masada are great; ruins of the Roman camp up on the plateau).

 

The route map:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Route description:

 

Rahaf canyon actually consists of two distinct parts: Upper Rahaf (waterfalls 0-4) and Lower Rahaf (waterfalls 5-9). A trail marked with blue marks branches from the trail of Maale Rahaf (green marks) and leads to the point where the upper canyon ends and the lower one starts. Consequently, you can do the route in three different ways: Upper Rahaf only, Lower Rahaf only or both parts as a whole.

 

Note:  In all conventional descriptions of nahal Rahaf only 9 waterfalls (which require rappelling) are numbered. Apart from them, I counted at least three small falls equipped with bolts. In order to maintain the conventional numbering of the main falls, I assigned to these minor falls following numbers: 0, 1a and 1b.

 

  

Profile of the route:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upper Rahaf canyon

 

The path to the waterfall 1 (11m) is a continuous series of low falls and shallow pits. Small falls (3m, 3m and 5m) can be passed with no significant effort. The last of them (5m, numbered as 0 on the scheme) is equipped with a bolt.

 

 

Small waterfall (5m, numbered "0")

 

 

Small waterfall (5m, numbered "0")

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st waterfall

 

 

1st waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue to walk from the foot of the waterfall 1 and after 100m you arrive to the edge of waterfall 1a (4m). There is a bolt on the right side. This fall can be bypassed from the right, but it is quite dangerous and rappelling is the preferred option. Short hike along the canyon bed brings you to waterfall 1b (3m). It is equipped with a bolt. It is essential to use a rope, as the lower part of the descent has a negative slope and there is a big rocky spike at the foot. Immediately after the descent we arrive to a lake, which should be crossed by swimming.

 

 

Waterfall 1a

 

 

Waterfall 1a

 

 

Waterfall 1a

 

 

 

 

 

Waterfall 1b

 

 

Waterfall 1b

 

 

The pool after waterfall 1b

 

 

 

 

2nd waterfall (9-10m or 12m):

Immediately after the first lake to be one more. Here you can either rappel directly into the lake (its presence and depth depend on the season), or to climb up and right to the rocky ledge above the lake and to rappel from there (9-10m in the first case, 12 meters - in the second). At times when there is a lot of water in the canyon, it is preferable to rappel from the ledge. The station on the ledge is equipped with 3 bolts and the descent does not end in the water (although, as you can see in the photo, it depends on the season).

Attention! While working on the ledge the self belaying is obligatory.

There is a deep lake after the waterfall 2 which should be crossed by swimming.

 

 

Waterfall 2 (the bolts placement is marked)

 

 

Waterfall 2 (the option from the ledge)

 

 

Waterfall 2 (the option from the ledge)

 

 

 

 

 

Waterfall 2 (the option from the ledge)

 

 

The pool after waterfall 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterfall 3 (37m) and waterfall 4 (10m) follow one another.

 

 

Waterfall 3

 

 

Waterfall 3

 

 

Waterfall 3

 

 

 

 

There is a lake at the foot of the waterfall 4. In the dry season it can be bypassed on the right side with no problem.

 

 

Waterfall 4

 

 

Waterfall 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the lake of the 4th waterfall the canyon widens and you arrive to some 7m high waterfall. It should be bypassed from the right.

 

At this point the Upper Rahaf  canyon ends and you can finish the route. To do that follow the marked trail (blue marks) which climbs from the canyon along the right wall. It eventually joins the "green" trail which leads back to Maale Rahaf where cars park.

 

 

The "blue" trail which allows to bypass Lower Rahaf canyon and the approach to the 5th dry fall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Rahaf canyon (continuation of the route)

 

5th (8m) and 6th (7m) waterfalls:

After the bypass of the 7m waterfall you arrive to a lake with a 3m high waterfall. Climb above it on the left side and go to the edge of some not too much steep cliff. Here you should climb down the easy rocks equipped with metal holds (there are bolts for rappelling as well). This is the waterfall 5 (8m). The descent leads to a small saddle, right and left of which there are lakes. The descent to the left side is the continuation of the route. It is the waterfall 6 (7m). It is not steep and equipped with a bolt (on the left side). The descent ends in the water. It is possible to bypass the waterfall and the lake traversing along the wall on the right side, but be careful!

 

 

Waterfall 5. Climbing down the "via ferrata"

 

 

Waterfall 6. (Arrows mark the "via ferrata" of the 5th waterfall fall)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bypassing the waterfall 6 on rocks

 

 

Bypassing the waterfall 6 on rocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the foot of the waterfall 6 we found ourselves again in a narrow and deep gorge and soon arrive to a small waterfall (4m) which should be bypassed on the right side. There is a descent on smooth and somewhat slippery rocks at the end of the bypass, but a bolt is placed for an auxiliary rope. The next small waterfall (4m) can be bypassed with no problem, then we swim across a lake and immediately after that arrive to the edge of waterfall 7 (20m), which ends into another lake.

 

 

The pool before waterfall 7

 

 

Waterfall 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterfall 7

 

 

Waterfall 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8th waterfall (20m):

Waterfalls 7, 8 and 9 appear one after the other. Just beyond the waterfall 7 the canyon bed makes a sharp turn to the left and we arrive to the edge of the waterfall 8 (20m), the descent from which also ends in a lake.

 

 

Waterfall 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just behind the waterfall 8, we arrive to the last 9th waterfall (35m):

 

 

Waterfall 9

 

 

Waterfall 9

 

 

Waterfall 9

 

 

 

 

The trail marked with black marks starts from the foot of the waterfall 9. It climbs up the right (south) wall of the canyon. Follow this trail to its very end and turn left to the trail marked with green marks. Follow this trail to the parking spot at the beginning of the route. It is 20 minutes walk from the last waterfall to your car.

 

 

Leaving nahal Rahaf canyon by the "black" trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 2016. Try to check it before starting on your trip.