Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem was also my choice because of their nicely organised day trips. I also wanted to see the famous world heritage site Masada, as well as the well-known oasis Ein Gedi, and of course I wanted to swim in the Dead Sea. There was one trip that made it possible to visit all these sites on one day. Initially, I planned to watch the famous sunrise in Masada, but the trip started at four in the morning and I would go to the other places, so I chose the combination trip.
Masada was a famous fortress built by King Herod the Great and is located on a huge rock plateau. You can overlook the dead sea from there and the area is really impressive. Historically, the Roman Empire attacked the fortification and all the people hiding there killed themselves. So far, so good.
Since we arrived at 9 in the morning and it already had 40°C, we took the cable car up there, climbing the mountain would have been simply to hot and physically dangerous. We also were advised not to walk some of the walkways because it was simply too hot. The whole area is two things: rocky and hot. The cliffs and stones as well as the remaing rests of the different buildings where impressive, and there was some kind of Military training up there – somehow you really could imagine the military character of the site too. Nina and I were wandering around, but in the end, to be honest, we were happy to be back in the air conditioned bus, because even though we drank a lot of water and tried to hide in the shadow, we almost collapsed because of the heat. Somehow I understood that mass suicide thing ;-)
After passing some Kibbuz mango and date woods, our next stop was Ein Gedi. This place is a nature reservation because of all the animals living there as well because of the trees and plants. So when you hop off the bus, you suddenly see a lot of green in the middle of moon-like desert. You have to climb a hill on a rather rocky way next to a small river (so bring good shoes), which is mainly the reason for any life in that place. In August, it was just a little trickle, but enough for some pools with natural waterfalls. After hiking and the incredible heat, taking a bath there and refresh a bit under the waterfalls was amazing. We didn’t climb the highest one because it was too hot (actually it was around noon). Unfortunately there were lots of crazy and loud students taking a trip, so there was little time to enjoy the calm atmosphere. Still it was nice to see how life can develop in the middle of such a really life-threatening area.
Our last stop before returning to busy Jerusalem was a beach at the Dead Sea. It was well equipped with changing rooms and of course a souvenir shop, some ice cream shops and a bar. The dark mud was sticky and soft, it really felt weird to walk into the sea. The salt concentration is incredibly high there and you really have to be careful not to get any water into your eyes, nose or mouth. Also be careful with walking in, because there are stones and sharp salt crystals everywhere on the ground. You can cut yourself and this hurts, believe me. Ah, and, ahm… don’t shave your bikini area before ;-) As soon as the water reaches your thighs, simply sit down. The water will “catch” you – you simply will float. Swimming is almost impossible, but you could read a book easily while floating on your back. This is mainly also the body position everybody uses for those obligatory floating-pics. The water is very warm, so don’t expect any refreshment, and when we were there at around 3pm, there was 47°. Use the mud on your skin as body mask and after having enough (you shouldn’t be in there longer than 20 mins anyway) use one of the salt water showers (with less salt concentration), to wash the hig salt concentration off. It was fun to do and I brought some nice souvenirs (crystals, cosmetics…) for my friends and fmily from there. Just make sure to really wash off the salt from your bdy, hair and swimming clothes afterwards, otherwise it will get sticky and stiff ;-)
If your want to see those sights easily and fast, I really recommend to start the trip starting in Jerusalem. Also, Petra in Jordan or the Golan heights might be worth going from there, but I didn’t have the time for it, since I also want to go down to the Negev desert. Jordan is also a little bit tricky because of the border controls, so really take this time factor into consideration.