Adventures in Israel. Masada Sunrise
On our short vacation to Israel we experienced so many great moments and mostly because of Abraham Hostels that have a lot of cool and fun tours that you can choose from. We only stayed for 4 days, but Saphire from Abrahams made sure that we were taken care of and booked us the most interesting tours. On a Tuesday we had the Masada Sunrise Tour and we received on e-mail all the information we needed and the schedule. Since the tour is called Masada Sunrise, we thought it would be cool to see the sunrise on top of Masada. At 2 AM we had to be in the Tel Aviv hostel lobby to go to Masada, with a short stop by their Jerusalem hostel to pick up the rest of the persons joining this tour so that at 5 AM when the gates open at Masada we could begin our journey. When we saw the e-mail with the details and departure hours, traveling sister Ramo said she would not be joining the tour and instead she’ll go explore Tel Aviv a little more. They told us in the e-mail that we should bring comfortable shoes, food and water, a towel and a bathing suit because this tour is not just for Masada, but for National Reservation En Gedi and the Dead Sea also.
We arrived at Masada at 5 AM, at the Western entrance, but we had to wait 15 minutes until climbing because they’d just switched to the winter schedule. The entrance fee is 29 shekels, but our driver gave us some 15% discount coupons. We were told that at 07:45 AM to be back at the minibus to go to our next destination. If you are not in such great shape or you get tired hiking, you’ll get to the top in about an hour or so. I managed to hike in about 40-45 minutes with a few stops on the way up to catch my breath and take some pictures. There’s also a cable car for those who don’t want to hike, but it opens at 8 AM and you’ll miss the sunrise. But what is Masada? In Hebrew, “metsada” means fortress. It was built in 1st century BC and expanded during the reign of Jewish king Herod the Great. After Jerusalem was conquered by the Roman emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus in the year 70, Masada remained the last refuge of the anti-roman resistance. The rock that the fortress is built on is at 470 meter above the Dead Sea. The Masada fortress was rediscovered in 1838 and its reconstruction began in 11966, being a great tourist attraction today. In 2001 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage and in 2007 was built an archaeological museum.
I arrived at the top at 6 AM but the Sun was nowhere to be seen so I went to discover the fortress. With the map and my camera ready, I found all the ruins and read all the information about them. I saw the sunrise with the Dead Sea in the distance and more and more tourists were starting to show up. I took my time over there and barely made it on time at the minibus. Thank God I wasn’t the only one from our group when I started to go back. From here we went to En Gedi National Park, an oasis in the middle of Israel, 15 minutes away from Masada. The ticket is 29 shekels, but we also had a discount here. The area, mentioned in a few Biblical Gospels, is mostly known for its caves, water springs and rare flora and fauna. There’s a lot of references in the Bible of this place an today it’s a natural park. It’s 25 km² and it was made a Natural Reservation in 1972. We had about an hour and a half to walk around. I didn’t have time to see all the reservation, so I found a little waterfall, sank my feet into it and enjoy the view. I really wanted to go to David’s waterfall and saw that it was not that far from where I was. The rest of the group didn’t want to go, so I went alone. Legend has it that this was the place that King David hid when he ran from Saul. I struggle a bit to take some pictures and after that went to the meeting point to find the rest of the group.
Our next destination was the Dead Sea, on a private beach, Neve Beach, where we didn’t have to pay anything, the cost of the tour covering the entry fee. We got changed and went straight to the water to float. With 34,2% salinity, it is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean and one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. The high amount of salt makes underwater life impossible, hence the name “Dead Sea”. Even if you can’t swim, there’s no worry. The high amount of salt will keep you afloat. You just have to be careful not to get water in your eyes or mouth because it’s way too salty an it will sting. Tourists come here not only for fun, but also for the mud that you’ll find at shore. After we put some mud on ourselves, we could actually feel that our skin was more hydrated. We stayed a little and sunbathe an then we had to return to the minibus and go back to the hostel. It was an unique experience, it’s a shame that my sister didn’t get to enjoy it. So if you’re visiting Israel and you get the chance to go to Masada and the Dead Sea, do it, you won’t regret it!