I found myself rising out of bed at 4:00 am a couple weekends ago. I was filled with excitement, nonetheless moving ever so slowly, gradually dragging myself from my room to the kitchen for some coffee. Why was I doing this?!? And why of all days did my single sized foam bed ever feel so deliciously embracing! I had agreed to head over to the south of Israel to see the sunrise out of Masada and climb its famous Snake Path with a friend. We would follow this with some relaxing and reinvigorating floating time in the Dead Sea (Yam Hamelach in Hebrew)…maybe throw a little rejuvenating mud into our mix and then head over to Ein Gedi Nature reserve for another hike.
Masada is one of Israel’s top historical sites, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Back in 30 BCE King Herod ordered this fortress to be built at the top of a cliff facing the Dead Sea. Architecturally, I can only imagine the problems that may have been posed in constructing this palace, which in itself makes it impressive enough. Add to the fact that Masada is built in the middle of the Judean Desert, and was able to maintain a logistics network comprehensive enough to sustain the lavish lifestyle of the King (there was a swimming pool in one of the palaces) and this place, along with its panoramic views really leaves you breathless!
Getting there was fairly simple although we misjudged the time and ended up seeing the sunrise just before we got to Masada. In the clarity of daylight though, I now also saw the famous Masada Snake Path. I understood then, why all tours bring people here in the dark: Tourists can’t really see what they’re about to embark on…I am sure the temperature is the secondary consideration! Forty five minutes of steep leg-toning-and- muscle-burning-hiking along the side of the mountain was the start to our day. Once at the top though, we were well rewarded as we saw the incredible views which the inhabitants of Masada had the privilege to enjoy and the amazing architectural feats that were achieved in constructing this palace. The climb is a must to really understand the feats
which were made with the finalization of this palace. Soon enough I would be reminded of the popular saying, “what goes up (in this case who), must come down” as we began our descent back down the Snake Path. Although gravity was on our side my legs felt that they were about to crumble with every step… I couldn’t wait to get to the Dead Sea!
Three hours plus of hiking were decently rewarded with a nice relaxing session at the Dead Sea and the effortless feeling of floating in the water without even trying! It truly is a cool experience, and what’s more, supposedly
since it’s the lowest point on earth at -417 metres below sea level there’s more oxygen in the air… which in turns makes you feel happier! I don’t know if that’s true but I was feeling pretty good, and I wasn’t missing my bed now!
What came next must be one of my favourite destinations yet! Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is a must see for all! Come prepared for Masada like hiking here if you want to get the full experience. This place is out of a movie!
You’re hiking in the desert, and all of the sudden you encounter clear blue pools of water, streams and waterfalls called wadis. For a second you think it’s the heat getting to you but then you kneel to refresh your face with this clear water and you realize it’s not an illusion.
The most famous wadi here is called Wadi David and it’s a short hike from the entrance. Although, for the true experience climbing all the way up to Dodim’s Cave is both extremely exhausting and wholly gratifying!
After a one and a half hour climb in the heat you are rewarded with a secluded- and thankfully shaded- small cave which houses a pool of fresh water ready to refresh your hot sweaty body!
Relaxing by the natural pool at Dodim’s Cave and remembering my lazy self in the morning I knew that at night, back home, my single sized bed would surely feel like a queen sized cloud filled mattress ready to completely envelope my body into its sponginess!
Thank you for reading!