The wadi of Qumran, located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, is best known for the ancient settlement were the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
Though not very deep, the canyon has three waterfalls that attract many hikers and extreme-sports enthusiasts.
The Qumran stream however is known for flooding almost every year, and it is imperative to follow safety procedures. Just Saturday flooding trapped a group of hikers and four of them were killed.
The first and tallest waterfall drops 40 meters. The next, smaller one can be bypassed. A short trek will bring visiters to the third waterfall (about 25 meters in height).
The deadly flood at Qumran (Photo: Ido Meiri)
A flood flowing thorough the canyon is a magnificent sight. The water surges with tremendous force and drops suddenly from the top of the cliff into the wadi below, heading towards the Dead Sea and leaving behind beautiful cisterns in the rock.
These cisterns harbor a complete ecosystem; foxes, ibex and perhaps even tigers drink from them and water-insects (beetles, mosquitoes and dragonflies) live and reproduce in their waters.
Rescue helicopter (Photo: Ido Meiri)
Qumran canyon is 13 km long (about 8 miles), starting at the desert plateau and ending at the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea.
Floods occur at the canyon almost every year during the winter and spring seasons and although the sight of a flood attracts many nature lovers, the risk of being inside the canyon at the time is great. For those who wish to observe the phenomenon, the best and safest place to do so is from the Qumran Natural Park.
Qumran National Park is off of Route 90 near kibbutz Kalia on the northern shore of the Dead Sea, about 40-minutes drive from Jerusalem.