My first trip to Israel was unique because I found myself unexpectedly alone most of the time. To manage my transfers I searched the internet to find out what I could have liked and what was worthwhile to be seen. The first itinerary that got my attention was the one passing through Masada, the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi. After my experience, I can confirm you should definitely add these stops to your journey, especially if you’re visiting this incredible country for the first time.
Initially I tried to find a way to get around using public transport but, considering the lack of days at my disposal and the difficulty of reaching the Masada and the Dead Sea, I preferred to rely on an organized tour which, in half a day, would allow me to visit the Masada’s historical site, immerse myself in the Dead Sea and walk in the Ein Gedi oasis, conveniently starting in Tel Aviv.
I booked the tour with Get Your Guide and, among the various options, I chose the one including the Masada visit at sunrise. There are a number of tours leaving from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (here) with a couple of variations, but I strongly suggest this particular one: seeing the sunrise in the desert gives you goosebumps.
At 1 am, a taxi brought me from my accommodation to the center of Tel Aviv, the starting point of the tour.
It was a hot September’s night with a breeze coming from the Tel Aviv sea, but, once I got on the bus, sleep took over from time to time. Whenever I opened my eyes I realized the residential area got further and further, leaving the desert in its place. Along the road, I noticed checkpoints, guarded by young Israeli soldiers.
I get to the Masada before 5 in the morning. The driver gives me some explanation, I pay the entrance fee to the site and I begin walking. Around me, everything is still dark and the stars are perfectly visible in that sky so far from the city. The first time in a desert…
I begin to walk on what is called the Snake Path, which goes up to the top, where the ancient fortress of Masada is. There exists also a funicular railway that goes up to the top, but the nice part is actually that hard climb up, while the sun slowly rises.
Every now and then I turn around and look at the steps I’ve taken: it looks never-ending and instead I’m already far up. The sun comes out and makes the water of the nearby Dead Sea, shine. It’s so close to me. Looking a little further away I can even see Jordan’s territory. I feel tired and I think about the young Israelis on military duty who walk up these mountains with extremely heavy backpacks on their shoulders… I could certainly use some training.
The Masada, recognized by Unesco as a World Heritage Site since 2001, is a fortress erected on a 400m plateau, located in the Dead Sea depression. This fortress became famous after the siege by the Roman army during the first Judaic war, which leads to the tragic mass suicide of the Hebrew community. Today it’s an important zionist symbol: every soldier comes here at least once in their lifetime to pronounce the oath of allegiance to the cry of: “Never again shall Masada fall“.
I get to the top and I start exploring the plateau. So desolate and empty but at the same time extremely fascinating. The sun is already hot but the clock hasn’t even ticked 8 o’clock in the morning.
I walk calmly on the dusty terrain, admiring with great emotion an unseen landscape. Everything around me had warm colors going from red to amber yellow. The mountains are levigate and the rocks appear to be decorated with elegant motives. I take my time to snap some photos to eternalize this moment of silence and peace before going back to the parking lot where the minivan is waiting for the next stop.
The tour continues towards the Dead Sea, one of the major tourist attractions in all of Israel and the location which holds a world record: I’m located at the earth’s lowest point, under the sea level!
As every D.O.C. tourist, I covered myself in the mud and… Yeah, it’s a thing, you really do float! The water is so salty I’m so afraid about even a drop getting into my eyes. The effect on the skin is equally unusual…
It almost looks like I’m covered in oil, anyhow it’s only a weird consequence of the salt.
The showers are only a few steps away from the beach. I wash well to avoid any redness on my skin and I get back on the bus to reach my last stop.
Within a few kilometres, I reach the Ein Gedi Oasis, a tiny Eden in the middle of the desert, inhabited by funny little creatures hiding in the greenery. Steams, which become waterfalls and natural freshwater pools where you can refresh and find shelter from the skin-burning sun, flow among the rocks.
The Ein Gedi Oasis today is part of one of the many national parks and in the past was an inhabited area, which was spoken of in the Old Testament. One can explore different paths but the one not to be missed is David’s Waterfall.
After having discovered this surprising oasis, I return to the chaos of Tel Aviv halfway through the afternoon. In the evening, with no energy left to party in the “city that never stops”, I’m left to look at the photos of this wonderful tour.
If you love nature and have lots of energy, I really suggest doing this tour which will give a big added value to your trip. You won’t regret it.
Did you take this tour?
What fascinated you the most?
I’m waiting for your comments♥️