Israel – Floating in the Dead Sea

„There must be a place to access the Dead Sea, isn’t it?“ I asked the nice young lady at the entrance of En Gedi. I had that experience of floating in the highly saturated salty sea twice when i traveled Jordan in 2014 (click here). Since i’m so close to that unique waters, i wanted have at least another short dip on this side of the sea.

„There’s a spa at seaside nearby, but it costs a fortune to get in“ she replied. „Better drive south to En Bokek. There’s a public beach without an entrance fee.“ she advised me. Thankfully i drove along the coast. The sun already was near the horizon when i arrived at that beach. The town provides changing rooms and fresh water shower at the sandy beach. Behind the beach are a few big, modern hotels and even a shopping mall. People enjoying to float on the water or sunbathing in the late afternoon sun.

Quickly i got myself into the water, and once again felt that strange sensation of the strong buoyancy. Literally lying on the water surface and looking over to the reddish mountains of Jordan, it felt like being on another planet, where gravity is different and light shines from an another sun. That thought carried on when i traveled into the night, followed by a cloud shaped like a space ship.

Israel – En Gedi, The Oasis

There’s not just one En Gedi, i found out when i approached the area. My quick research earlier learned me about a kibbutz and a nature reserve, an oasis, with the same name. It’s not exactly the same spot, as i expected. The nature reserve lies not inside the kibbutz, as i thought, but a few kilometer up north of it. So be aware of it if you want visit it.

There’s a parking lot and big picnic area with some shops and cafe in front of the entrance. A friendly young lady at the booth explained me about the ways and activities within the UNESCO heritage nature park. I was poorly prepared about this spot and already bit late on the day. I was happy to learn, there are some shorter walks along a creek. So i followed the ‚wet trail‘ upstream. Beautifully along the green bushes inside a deep valley with incredible views over the Dead Sea. On some rocks i found to my surprise a couple rock hyrax glaring to wandering tourists. These cute mammals are seen often in Southern Africa, known also as rock dassies.

Along the way are several small waterfalls. Day visitors use the chance to have a dip in the tiny pools to cool off or just having a rest there. My walk ended on the higher and more famous David waterfalls. A cool rest under the spray of the falls, a couple pictures taken and the joy of the view for a few minutes longer. Too soon i had to walk back, but on a slightly different route to enjoy the view over the Dead Sea bit more.

Palestine – Jericho, the oldest city ever?

Actually, there’s not really much to see on the excavation site of Jericho. At least it’s not as impressive than other sites in the area. But it claims to be „the oldest city of the world“, as our guide it stated proudly too.

However, the findings and some walls are dated back around 10’000years BCE. This would be as old as the newer founds in Anatolia, like Göbekli Tepe or Karahan Tepe, both i just visited recently too (there is upcoming more blog posts about my Turkey trip soon. Stay tuned!)

Near to the archeological site of Jericho raise also the ‚Mountain of Temptation‘, where according to the bible Jesus get tempted by the devil in his time of fasting.

We hadn’t the time to climb up or even get a ride up in the cable car. That’s the downside of a booked group tour, i have to admit. At least we had a stop for a splendid view on it and a juicy drink in the shade.

The Ancient Mine Of Ngwenya / Eswatini

After paying a small entrance fee, the guard at the gate jumped in my car and joined me up to the mine. We got to a halt in front of a huge dip. That’s all? That’s the mine? I asked myself a bit disappointed. From the oldest mine on earth I was expecting something more exciting. 

I was doubting about the age of this mine, till I looked up on Wikipedia about Ngwenya Mine. As my guide told me, the scientist dating back the first use of the hematite, or iron ore, for more than 40,000 years. It was used in the stone age for coloring the skin, probably as protecting from the sun.

But first we stepped into the remains of the former museum, which burned down by wildfire a couple years ago. Just in front of the ruins lies the deep hole from the old commercial mine. There are two more dips, the guide explains me. We drove further and parked at another mine dip, filled with water. 

From here we got on our feet and walked up to the highest point, the top of Mount Ngwenya. The last steps are on a steep latter. Stairways to heaven, slipped in my mind and followed me for awhile. From the top, a green wide valley opened up in front of my eyes. The sun rays plays with the clouds, draws pattern in the green landscape. The clouds sprays rain over it, as if it’s in a playful competition with the sun.

Eventually we got to the cave I mentioned earlier. Reddish rocks and ground all around here. Easy to imagine how the early homo sapiens was impressed of that colorful stone. My guide picked up some hematite and rubbed it on the back of my hand to demonstrate how the skin got colored. With the reddish stain on my hand we left the place, still imagining how 40000 years ago people was wandering these beautiful hills.

Hike in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary/Eswatini

The sun shines trough the green canopy of the trees in my camp. It’s better weather than predicted. With the morning coffee i decided to go for a hike in the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. This became almost a routine when in Eswatini. The view from Mount Nyonyane is just great and opens the land in direction of Manzini. The West is overlooking the green mountains of Eswatini.

I finished my coffee next to the yellow python from the ‚Legend backpackers hostel‘ and got even a feathered guest on the veranda. More wildlife is waiting for me in the Sanctuary. That’s something great in that park, one can hike trough free roaming wildlife. No dangerous predators around, except the crocodiles in water and snakes in the bush.

Already after i passed the entrance gate, impalas, kudus and other antelopes blocking my way and gazing at me. Different species of birds singing from the trees or hidden in the bush. Just the hippos and crocodiles dived under water and not wanted to be seen this time.

At the main camp i learned the way isn’t in good condition due the heavy rain in the past days. They recommended to me to drive up to the side of the mountain and hike along the ridge. This is also a shorter walk, since there’s a chance of more rain in the afternoon.

A steep, earthen road trough dense forest brings me up to the ridge. Not without to get stopped from some workers, who just freed the road from big fallen rocks. They warned me from deep ruts in the road up, but the Land Rover took it with ease.

The view was splendid on my hike along the ridge to the top of Mount Nyonyane, also known as the „Execution Rock“. In the past, so i’m told, the condemned were sent up to trow themselves from that rock to death. Today there’s no dark thought about it, but enjoying once more the beautiful view.

On the top i took a rest and watched a bird flying over the hilly landscape. Sailing along like a bird, how wonderful would it be, i thought. Then i remember the can of Red Bull i carried in my backpack. I grabbed it and took a good sip of it. Gives you wings, says the slogan, and as i finished it, i stood at the edge and flew towards the lake underneath me…

Eventually i stopped dreaming, opened my eyes and noticed clouds coming up. Time to get back to my car and leave the sanctuary. A look back to the mountain shows dark clouds, but i was already on my way to a nice espresso, and later a good pizza, at Pizza Vesuvio next to my camp.

BEST OF GREECE 2021 (3/3)

Again some more images of the big variety Greece has to offer. Historical sites, wonderful landscapes including caves, canyons and mountains, vibrant small cities or relaxed beach life. And there’s so much more to discover. Certainly not my last visit here.

Wanderung auf den Berg Nyonyane

Im Mlilwane Naturpark gehört die Wanderung auf den Berg Nyonyane zum Highlight. Der Berg wird weitläufig auch „Execution Rock“ (Hinrichtungsfels) genannt. Diese Bezeichnung kommt aus der Zeit als Verurteilte gezwungen wurden dort hoch zu steigen und sich selber die steile Felswand hinunterzustürzen. Ein Hauch dieser dunklen Zeiten scheint noch über den Gipfel zu wehen als ich mich morgens dem Ausgangspunkt der Wanderung nähere.

Schon kurz nachdem ich das Camp im Mlilwane Park verliess sehe ich in der ferne Zebras und Antilopen vorbei ziehen. Dies macht der Reiz dieser Wanderung aus; man kann hier herumstreunen ohne Gefahr zu laufen, von einem Raubtier angefallen zu werden. Nur das Krokodil im See äugt etwas zu gierig ans Ufer hoch. Dann aber verschwindet der Wanderweg erst durch dicctenen Wald, bevor es stetig aufwärts geht und den Blick über das Königreich von Eswatini freigibt…


Zum Abschluss meiner Motorradtour nochmals ein sprichwörtliches Highlight. Auf dem dreigipfeligen Berg Titano und steht die mittelalterliche Stadt San Marino, Hauptstadt der gleichnamigen Republik. Während an der adriatischen Küste noch Nebel über den leeren Strand zieht, erheben sich hier die Türme der Sonne entgegen. Der Ausblick über die steilen Felswände ins umliegende Land ist grandios. Die engen Gassen beherbergen viele Cafés, Restaurants und Souvenirläden, um die Touristen zufrieden zu stellen. Mich zieht’s zu den Zinnen der Burgen, die erstaunlich wenig besucht sind. Wie ein Schleier des Vergessens verbirgt der Nebel die Küste von Rimini, das Adriatische Meer, den Balkan dahinter und die ganze osteuropäische Landmasse, die ich bereist hatte. Nach 9 Wochen und 10’000 Kilometer ist San Marino das 24. Land meiner Motorradtour. Ein kühler Wind aus dem Norden erinnert mich, dass es Zeit wäre, die Heimfahrt anzutreten.

OST-EUROPA-MOTORRADTOUR #53: Kotor – Burg und Meer

In der morgendliche Frische stieg ich zur Burg hoch. Steile Treppen brachten mich schnell hoch über die Altstadt und eröffneten mir eine wunderbare Sicht über die Bucht. Weit draussen hatte über Nacht ein Kreuzfahrtschiff geankert. Bevor die Masse hier oben ankommt, möchte ich einige ruhige Minuten verbringen. An Einsiedlerhöhlen und Kapellen vorbei bis ans Eingangstor der Burg. Sie ist grösstenteils verfallen. Decken sind eingestürzt, Wände mit Grüssen und Parolen verschmiert  und Wände eingefallen. Die Aussicht über Stadt, Bucht und Berge aber ist unglaublich schön. Nach einem Kaffee und hausgemachten Käse auf der nahen Berghütte ging’s runter zum Meer, denn einmal musste ich zumindest kurz in das bereits kühle Mittelmeer tauchen.


OST-EUROPA-MOTORRADTOUR #46: Durch Mazedonien nach Griechenland

Eine zügige Fahrt bis nach Griechenland war geplant, als ich die Honda vor dem Hostel in Skopje startete. An den Doppeldecker-Busse der Stadt vorbei ging’s auf die Schnellstrasse Richtung Süden. Doch nicht eintönige Landschaften begleiteten mich, sondern herrliche Kurvenstrecke durch die Bergwelt. Ein herbstlich goldiger Wald bedeckt die Landschaft, unterbrochen von einem Fluss, der sich ebenfalls gen Süden schlängelt. Immer wieder wurde ich zum Anhalten angeregt, oder zumindest den Gasgriff zu lockern, um die Szenerie zu bewundern.

Die Grenzkontrolle zu Griechenland hatte ich schnell hinter mir, und befand mich dann bereits im 17. Land auf meiner Ost-/Südosteuropa-Tour. In Thessaloniki, sah ich wieder viele grössere Motorräder sah, darunter auch einige Honda Varaderos. Darum liess ich hier gleich noch meine Honda checken, die komische Geräusche machte. Der Mechaniker konnte aber nichts ungewöhnliches finden, was mich beruhigte. Also erst mal einen Kaffee geniessen, und der Honda eine Rast gönnen.