Natural Heritage Sites And Routes
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Wadi Khreitoun

To the southeast of Bethlehem, between the settlement of Tqoa’ and Herodium, lies the amazing Wadi Khreitoun. For those who seek outdoor adventure in the Bethlehem area, it can’t be beat. In addition to the breathtaking gorges, fragrant plants underfoot, birds soaring overhead, and glimpses of the Dead Sea, there is the intriguing human element. Caves inhabited since the lower Paleolithic period and much more recently abound. Three in particular are noteworthy in the valley itself: Erq al Ahmar, inhabited in 8,000 BC, Um Qalaá where the first traces of fire have found going back at least until 500,000 BC and Um Qatfa. Man here has had to adapt to climatic change. And here, too hermits and monks came and lived their intriguing lives. Indeed Khreitoun is Arabic for Chariton, who built the Souka Monastery here, traces of which remain. He himself lived in the Hanging Cave of Chariton, a wonderful place to explore in the right circumstances, about an hour’s walk from the valley. What’s really exciting is that neither the archeological traces nor caves have been fully explored. But don’t try to be a hero.