Massada 22-23 May 2007
The drive in the rental car from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea only takes about an hour. Distances are all so short as Israel is a small country. It was a stark reality driving into the desert and down 400 metres below sea level to the Dead Sea. The lowest known spot in the world! On our way down we went through several military check points as the Dead Sea and Massada are in the West Bank and were part of Jordon before 1967.
We decided to stay at En Gedi Guest House which is very near the En Gedi National Park. Very cozy, all 4 of us sharing to keep the cost down- with breakfast $25 US.
A swim in the Dead Sea is an amazing experience. It is impossible to swim as it is just too buoyant. The taste is not very good. Also a mistake to put one's head under as the sea stings the eyes very badly. I know this because Yenya put his head under then had to frantically get out and go under the showers. The Dead Sea has several beach areas for swimming with fresh water showers but the rest has barbed wired as the middle of the Dead Sea is the border with Jordon. The other must do at the Dead Sea is to use the black mud to rub on the skin.....see photo. I passed on that.
That evening we had dinner at the En Gedi Kibbutz up the road. The food was wonderful and the salad so fresh. All we good eat for 70 shekels or about $17.50US.
The next morning bright and early we drove 15 minutes to Massada and climbed to the top. A hard 45 minutes for Rick and Lars and an even harder 60 for me! There is a cable car as well but it was much more fun hiking up.
Massada was built by King Herod around the time of Jesus as an indulgence but when the Jews rebelled against the Romans in 68AD some used Massada as a last stand. In 73AD when the Romans built a ramp and then a tower parallel to the top and they knew they would be invaded, they all jumped off committing suicide. Everyone- men, women and children!
Lars and I then walked into the En Gedi National Park to see a series of waterfalls and hoped to have a swim but it was very crowded so we just had a look and left. However see the photo and be amazed that it is in the same area as Massada. A real oasis!
Then on to Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. A pretty busy, hot and dusty two days! It is lovely to get back to the boat.