Masada, Ein Gedi and View of Qumran
We drive through the Judean Desert towards the Dead Sea passing the Inn of the Good Samaritan and the ancient city of Jericho. We take the funicular to the top of Masada where Herod built his fortress palace and where Jewish Zealots made their final stand against the Romans in 73AD. We follow the trail through the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve without a guide then on our return journey we see where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the caves of Qumran.
Our journey takes us south of Jerusalem into the Judean Desert in the direction of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. We see the Inn of the Good Samaritan and then stop for a moment at the sign which indicates that we are now going below sea level. Jericho, an ancient Biblical city, can be seen in the distance, it is thought to be one of the oldest continually occupied cities on the planet.
We travel along the shoreline of the Dead Sea to Masada which rises 59 meters above sea level from the rugged landscape. Unlike the ancient Romans we can take a cable car to the summit and look down on the Snake Path which slithers up the steep slope. It was here that King Herod had a fortress palace constructed. The extensive excavations have uncovered stone houses, store rooms, a 1st century synagogue, water cisterns, swimming pool, bathhouses and a caldarium, the Roman version of a sauna with an elevated floor heated from underneath by an external furnace.
After Herod’s death a Roman legion remained here until Masada was captures by Jewish zealots when the Jews revolted against the Romans. This culminated in a siege, the Romans constructed a ramp on the side of Masada and eventually breached the fortress in 73AD. The Romans found that the 960 Jews had committed suicide rather than being captured by the Romans.
We return to the desert road and stop at Ein Gedi an oasis with lush green tropical plants and trees. We walk along the well maintained trail through the nature reserve following the bubbling stream which comes from a natural spring and we stop at the waterfalls which cascade over the desert rocks. It was here that King David hid from King Saul (Samuel I 24:1). The nature reserve is home to several rare birds and animals like the Tristram grackle bird, the ibex and the coney rabbit. (Psalms 104:18).
On our way back towards Jerusalem we can see the caves at Qumran, here the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
· Entry fee to natural reserve is not include.
· The tour is operated between May to September..
Time spent walking through the Nature Reserve is 1.5 hour approx.
Minimum 3 pax.
Wear comfortable walking shoes and hat.
Should there be time take a float at the Dead Sea. *To swim in the Dead Sea bring bathing suits, sunscreen cream, towel, thongs.