The Dead Sea and Masada tours are the most popular tours (beside city tours in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) and for a good reasons – The tours combines Beautiful desert scenery, impressive history and flowing in the Dead Sea, a world wonder and the lowest place on earth.
I love the Judaean desert and I recommend sleeping there, but if:
* You are short on time.
* It is summer and you don’t want to stay to long in the extremely hot desert.
* You prefer to take a tour and not go by yourself.
Then a tour, from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv might be the right option for you.
There are many companies that offer this tour. Some are cheap but provide really bad service with drivers that can’t speak English and no customer service.
I prefer to write about the good one and not to do shaming to the bad ones…
Masada and Dead Sea Tours itinerary
The ride to Masada takes about an hour and a half (from Jerusalem, and two and a half from Tel Aviv) and it is amazing ride, once you leave Jerusalem the desert starts and pretty much immediately and you descent from Jerusalem, which is 800 meter high, to the area of the dead sea which is the lowest place on earth 400 meter below sea level.
The entrance to Masada costs 29 shekels or 70 if you use the cable car both ways. Either way you need to bring a hat and a bottle of water as it can be really hot. You can fill you bottle with cold water for free at the entrance or at the top of Masada.
In Masada there are two stories – the story of king Herod, that build on top of Masada two palaces, and the story of the rebels that took over the place 70 years later and fought against the Romans. So many of the places in Masada have two layers of stories.
The reason the story of the rebels in Masada is so important is because Masada was the last stronghold In the first Jewish-Roman war, or as we say in Hebrew – the great revolt. This was the years Jesus lived and the Jewish temple was destroyed.
About an hour at the top is enough to see the main things.
From Masada it is about 15 minutes to Ein Gedi. Ein Gedi is an oasis, so there is of course human history, but also flora and fauna. From Ein Gedi it is about 20 minutes drive to one of the beaches of the Dead Sea.
Floating in the Dead Sea is a great experience and the Dead Sea mud, that you can find in some of the beaches is really healthy but two things that are good to know in advance – Don’t go in the water with jewelry and try not to shave the night before you come as it can burn a little.
I like to recommend the Abraham tours for the following reasons:
* unlike many others companies that peak the tourist from their hotels, they start at the Abraham hostel and pick up only at jaffa gate, if there is demand. And if you sleep at the Abraham hostel it is very convenient. It is important because picking up the people from the hotels takes a lot of time and anyway it is a day with 3 hours on the road.
*The second reason is the price, it costs less then most of the other tours, the main reason is that there is no guide but you can down load the Abraham tours App, it is free, and in the app you have explanation about all the sites. It’s a great app! I know because I wrote the text. 🙂
You can download the app for free from iTunes or Google Play.
Anyway, if you choose the Abraham tour or the others, the itinerary is pretty much the same.
Masada & Dead Sea tours have usually two versions:
The regular tour – starts usually at 7:00- 8:00 from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Get back to Jerusalem at 16:00-18:00
Masada sunrise tour – the tour starts either in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem very early in the morning, between 2 to 4 am (depending on the session). And then you get to Masada very early, climb the snake path (you can’t take the cable car, it start working at 8:00) and get to see the sunrise, from the top of Masada. From there you continue to Ein Gedi or the Dead Sea. Get back to Jerusalem at 13:00-15:00.
Links to the Tours:
Masada Sunrise from Tel Aviv
Masada Sunrise Tour from Jerusalem
Masada, Ein Gedi, and Dead Sea Tour from Jerusalem