Thursday, February 16, 2023

14th of February 2023 - Eilat and Timna Valley

Eilat is Israel's southernmost city and the country's only access to the shores of the Red Sea which it shares with Jordan and Egypt which both have a land border with the city.  The shores of Saudi Arabia are clearly visible from the mountains around Eilat and its southernmost beaches.

Coral Beach Nature Reserve Eilat, is a reserve that extends along the sea for 4,000 feet  under off the coast of Eilat.  We visited The Underwater Observatory, a large  aquarium in the Coral Reserve, which includes an underwater aquarium which allows visitors to view the actual coral colony and a large number of aquatic species.  This is below a white observation tower which I didn't climb but apparently gives great views of the coastline.

Taking pictures of the coral and inhabitants from the aquarium was challenging however are some pictures that I did take.

Afterwards we wandered around the aquarium complex taking more pictures before doing a little shopping.  I found some rather interesting silver and mother of pearl earrings, not that I need any more earrings.

The Timna Valley is located in southern Israel, approximately 19 miles north of the Gulf of Aqaba and the city of Eilat.  The area is rich in copper ore and has been mined since the 5th century BC.  There is controversy whether the mines were active during the biblical united Kingdom of Israel and its second ruler, King Solomon. A large section of the valley, containing ancient remnants of copper mining and ancient worship, comprises of the Timna Valley recreation park.

Copper has been mined in the area since the 6th or 5th century BC.  Archaeological excavation indicates that the copper mines here were probably part of the Kingdom of Edom and worked by the Edomites, described as biblical foes of the Israelites, during the 10th century BC in the period of biblical King Solomon.  Mining continued until the copper ore became scarce.  We were shown some of the techniques used to extract the copper from the rock.

The first site we visited in Timna Valley was the “Mushroom” which is an unusual natural formation formed by the erosion of the red sandstone. The bottom of the rock experienced a more rapid erosion resulting in the beautiful mushroom shape we see today.  I found the walk down to the rock tricky and Ruth was surprised that I had attempted.  Ken, one of my fellow cruise passengers, kindly gave me a hand.

We then moved on to Solomon’s pillars which are red sandstone rock formations that look like huge stone pillars.  The 130 feet tall pillars were formed by wind and water erosion.  The impressive shape of the pillars that resembles a temple brought the ancient Egyptians (1300 BC) who carved copper in the Timna Valley to erect a temple to the goddess of Hathor at their foot.  Sadly my good Samaritan Ken fell climbing the pillars and ended up on crutches for the rest of the cruise.

At this point the battery in my camera sadly died so Ruth generously supplied the following picture of one of the wild goats grazing at the bottom of Solomon’s pillars.

We returned to the ship for the Captain's farewell party.  This was being held on the prenultimate night of the cruise because there was a long trip on the following day.

Afterwards we had dinner with Slavko who was another member of the crew.  There was nine of us on the table and we had a great time followed by joining a music trivia quiz in the lounge and a disco at the bar on the top deck.

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