We took a quick one night trip down to Masada on the Dead Sea this Friday. It’s not a particularly long drive from where we’re staying, so by leaving Friday at noon we were able to fit in visit to the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, and still arrive before dark. We stayed at what turned out to be a very popular hostel perched atop the cliffs over looking the Dead Sea, and adjacent to a military listening station. The elevation isn’t actually very much above sea level (only a few metres), but since the Dead Sea is very much below sea level, we were relatively high up and had some great views over the sea itself.
We woke up early Saturday morning and drove to Masada, which sits atop a mesa in the middle of no where and was very significant during the First Jewish-Roman War (about 73 CE). There is a cable car to the top, but for budget reasons we chose to hike the “Snake Path” (a 2 km set of switch backs) up to the fortress. Luckily for us it was unusually cool in the Rift Valley, so the climb was not that bad and we still had energy to explore the ruins before hiking back down.
After browsing the souvenir shop at Masada, we headed for a dip in the Dead Sea. The public beach near Masada is very reasonably priced (2 NIS for entrance to the shower and change room, about $0.75 CAD) and while rocky, allowed us to experience floating in the sea. It was such a funny feeling, because its really is that much denser! The brine is quite painful though, entering any small cut or scrape, and feels really oily, so we only stayed in a short while before showering off and heading back to Jerusalem.