masada fortress

Ein-Gedi Park, Masada Fortress, and Dead Sea (Israel)

This post is about a one-day getaway from Jerusalem allowing to see the major sights around it, including some tips on how to make it cheaper and more efficient. The getaway may be done by local buses or by car. If you are more than two, the car option will be cheaper, also, it will allow for seeing all the three things in one day. If on some reason you prefer the public bus, you will probably make it to two sights only, and if you are to choose we recommend to visit Masada and the Dead Sea rather than Ein-Gedi Park. If you go by car, we recommend to have the full insurance, because the driving culture of Israel is not the best one.
around Jerusalem

The road from Jerusalem to these sights is a beauty by itself, this is a desert stretching along the Dead Sea.
around Jerusalem

around Jerusalem

around Jerusalem

Ein-Gedi Park

The first point of interest on your way is Ein-Gedi National Park – the oasis in the middle of the desert. The park has several trails, with the trail to David Waterfall – a year-round waterfall along the course of the David Stream, to which there is an easy access by a hiking trail, suitable for all the family.
Ein-Gedi Park

The trail includes several other sights.
Ein-Gedi Park

Ein-Gedi Park

Ein-Gedi Park

Ein-Gedi Park

Ein-Gedi Park

The waterfall itself is not the most picturesque one, but is certainly enjoyable.
David Waterfall

There are at least two more trails, about 3 and 10 hours long correspondingly, so you can explore them if you have extra time.

Masada Fortress

The next stop is Masada Fortress. The place is essential for the national narrative: Jews who lived here preferred suicide to surrender. When attacked by Romans, realizing that the fortress will eventually be conquered, about 1000 Jews living here committed mass suicide. For some, this is a beautiful history of true resistance, others say, such a dramatic story is harmful for the national psyche. The truthfulness of the story is also doubtful, because the historian who described it was not really there.
There are two ways to get to the fortress situated on the top of the hill. If you decide to walk (28 shekels’ entrance fee, by the way, nobody checks your ticket!) make sure you not to do it in the middle of the day in summer. We visited the fortress in May and arrived there in the afternoon. They were closing the trail at that same time and allowed us to be the last pack to walk up just before this. This was certainly our mistake: we should have realized that they were closing the hiking trail for the reason. The sun was extremely strong and made walking up unbearable, even though the trail itself is not so long or steep. Also, there was almost no shadow. Luckily, we had enough water. By the way, there is also free water on top of the fortress, but first you have to reach it.
Masada Fortress

Masada Fortress

After 1.5 hours we finally made it.
Masada Fortress

The other option is a cable car (54 shekels one way, 74 shekels both ways, nobody checks the ticket on the way back!). This takes less than 5 minutes. When you finally reach the top in this or that way there is a lot to see.
Masada Fortress

The fortress is over 2000 years old and you may still see the plaster which is 2000 years old. The black line shows the division between what is original (below) and reconstructed (above).
Masada Fortress

Masada Fortress

The fortress opens great views too. From the top you may see the black squares which mark the places where Roman camps were situated.
Masada Fortress

You may also see the remains of palaces, baths, storage rooms, classrooms, towers, and many other buildings.
Masada Fortress

Masada Fortress

Dead Sea

After you are done sightseeing in Masada and Ein-Gedi you may try to refresh yourself in the Dead Sea. We say “try” because the refreshment is hardly possible there. The water is so salty, hot and thick; it feels like you bathe in the oil. If you have any small scratch or sunburns (which you will certainly have if you are outside for the whole day, especially climbing up the Masada fortress as we did), they will ache. The torture will not finish when you leave the water: the salt remaining on your body makes it even more painful under the sun. The most joyful thing at the Dead Sea beach is the shower, truly refreshing and washing off the salt.
Dead Sea

The water indeed pulls you out and you may pose for all kinds of pictures.
Dead Sea

We visited one of the most popular free beaches, in Ein-Bokek.
Dead Sea Ein-Bokek

Here, you may also buy a bucket of healing mud for 10 shekels (mud is not free in Israel).
Dead Sea mud

Ein-Gedi, Masada Fortress, and the Dead Sea are certainly among the musts to see in Israel. Make sure you also visit Jerusalem Old City, Mount of Olives, and neighborhoods, Israeli Museum, Tel-Aviv, and Palestine.

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