Israel's Good Name

Namer Caves

In Galilee, Israel on April 24, 2012 at 2:22 PM

This morning my father and I took a trip to the Namer Caves, just a short distance from Keshet Cave (covered twice now in this blog). The Namer Caves and the Namer Stream are named “namer” (Hebrew for “tiger”) due to the numerous stories of tigers roaming the area back in the early 1900s. We parked at the lower parking area for the nearby Keshet Cave and slipped into the wooded hillside on the opposite side of the Namer Caves. The trail down was marked in green and it headed for the dry Namer Stream (also known as Wadi Namer). The walk down was pretty but we were walking in the wrong direction, the trail markings not guiding us the right way.

One of the caves, but not the one we were headed to

At some point walking downhill we noticed a strange white man-made structure off in the distance on the riverbed. I suggested it was a tent but when we finally hit rock-bottom and we walked along the river, still headed the wrong way but following the trail markers, we saw what it was. Scattered over the riverbed were crushed cars, a bunch of them, some in worse shape than others but all were old and abandoned. We didn’t, and still don’t, know why they are there or from whence they came, but here is one of them:

One of the crushed cars

Whilst walking we realised that we were heading further and further from where we wanted to be, so we took a left swing and started up the mountain. For some reason there was a trail marking indicating that we had stumbled into a valid trail but we soon lost the “official” trail and began to do our own trailblazing. The hike uphill wasn’t too bad – except when I grabbed a slim tree trunk and felt unseen thorns entering and exiting my skin. I gave a gasp and examined my hand, sure to find beads of crimson blood, but there was none. Eventually, we reached the ridge of the mountain alongside the one with the caves, opposite of where the car was parked.

Looking East from the mountain ridge

It was beautiful, breezy and fun walking along the ridge, making our way to the caves. My father repeated “Trails are overrated” several times and we just happened to see another, faded, trail marker. I’m not sure if they changed the trail’s route but where we were looked very unmarked. There were rustlings in the bushes and birds of prey, eagles and kestrels, wheeling both above us and below, predatory eyes hunting the riverbed.

Making our way through the rocks

At last we reached a place where we could see the caves, their wide mouths gaping open. We tried to map out a way to the caves, with little luck.

Trying to descend to the caves

We ended up turning back a bit and dropping down on the rocks, working carefully from rock to rock. Thankfully, the rock was of a volcanic nature and thus provided sharp edges but incredibly grippy surfaces. Finally, we reached one of the caves:

The cave with the bats

This cave contained fruit bats, lots of them, but historically it was rumoured to be used by Byzantine monks as a place of seclusion – we only saw bats. When we entered the cave the bats began to fly around and make loud noises (for echolocation and communication purposes, no doubt). Here is a short 14-second video of them flying about and “squeaking” (with some human audio thrown in as well):

 

Suddenly one of the baby bats plummeted downward and landed near us, his small furry body shivering and squeaking rapidly. We felt pity and assumed he was going to die where he fell… but he didn’t, and he won’t.

Fallen baby fruit bat

I seized the moment and got a plastic bag out of the backpack. I lifted him up, his wings and feet gathering in the bag (and my fingers) and attempted to release him on a rock overhang. It took some work and some encouragement but before long his little feet and wing claws were fastened to the rock and immediately, his future looked brighter. Here are some pictures of the rescue operation:

Putting the baby fruit bat back on a bat-surface

Baby fruit bat awaiting its mother

There was a flurry of wings and his mother, I presume, flew right past him. She was homing in on the baby’s squeaks and made repeated passes until she pinpointed his location. In a valiant swoop she found the baby and grabbed the wall below it. She hustled the baby onto her stomach and, once the baby was secure, took flight and returned to her roost at the cave ceiling. I saved a bat – does that make me Batman?

After more cave exploration and not finding anything else interesting, definitely not the stalagmites and stalactites that were supposed to be in the Namer Caves, we headed back down the mountain/cliff. We reached the river and began our tedious, rocking-hugging ascent to the road. Once we did that, and I finished the last of my water, we began the walk back to the car, having made a huge circle – going up and down mountains most of the time. We reached the car and helped a couple from Beit Shemesh figure their Keshet Cave trip out. But, before this blog post ends, here are two panoramics of the lovely scenery: The first is from the road looking at the bold cliff face that we walked over heading to the caves on the left side of the far mountain. The second was taking from the ridge right above/beside the bat cave, looking at the road and the lovely Western Galilee (click to enlarge).

Panoramic of the cliff face

Panoramic from the cave cliff

Next time I do hope I find the cave with the stalagmites and stalactites!

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  1. […] the last known Arabian leopard in the region who was killed by a hunter in 1965 near the nearby Namer Caves. Being as though the museum was built within a historical building, it’s logical that there […]

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