Israel Day 8: Masada and The Dead Sea

On the bus to Tel Aviv …

We spent last night in the Negev Desert starting with dinner in Kfar Hanokdim and then speaking with a Bedouin man about life in his community and the transition away from a nomadic lifestyle. He misses the desert.

Nighttime in the Negev
In Kfar Hanokdim

This morning we are on the bus at 8 AM for an hour long ride to Masada. We drive along the Dead Sea. We’re at about 1,300 feet below sea level … the lowest point on the planet. Masada towers high above the Dead Sea. You can walk up the Snake Path to reach the top, but we opt for the cable car ride.

At the Masada Cable Car

The fortress was built by King Herod over 2,000 years ago. When Masada was attacked by 10,000 Romans and defeat was inevitable, the Jews holding the fortress opted to commit suicide instead being taken into slavery by the Romans.

The Roman Siege Ramp at Masada

Next we head to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. After lunch and shopping we take a quick look at the Qumran site. It’s incredibly hot in the desert and it’s so hazy that there is hardly any visibility of the horizon.

The Qumran Archaeological Site

The Dead Sea is a short drive on the bus. After changing in the locker rooms we head to the sea. You can walk in from the shore, but it’s very slippery. Instead we use the ladder at the end of a dock that extends about 100’ out into the water. On the second step down the ladder I sit back and I realize I am floating. But floating above the water. It’s the strangest sensation. Unlike anything I’ve done before. It’s also oily. I’m in for about 10 minutes and floating on the Dead Sea is checked off the bucket list! These experiences are why we travel.

Brad, Ron, Marguerite, Mickey, Donna, Shannon, Peter, and some guy we don’t know in the foreground

Of course this is also the location of the lowest bar in the world. We celebrate the day with Dead Sea Margaritas then get back on the bus to head to Tel Aviv.

The lowest bar in the world

10 Comments on “Israel Day 8: Masada and The Dead Sea

    • Thanks, Mom. And a reminder that this blog exists to let you know where in the world I and and what I am doing.

  1. I’m told they give strict instructions not to put our face in the water and open your eyes. True?
    Thanks for the daily recap, Michael. It gave me a lot of impetus to Google and research the different areas.
    Looking forward to see all of Michaela’s pictures in Boston on Monday.

    • Yes, Mike! There are very specific instructions about floating only on your back and not putting your face in the water. I will say, though, that my skin feels great tonight!

  2. What an amazing experience to be able to swim in the Dead Sea – super cool!

    • It turns out there are a bunch of rules for going in the Dead Sea … you can float, but not swim … you have to float on your your back … you can’t put your face in the water … no jewelry … and more. But a very cool experience!

  3. How weird that it’s oily. Glad your skin feels great. And the margaritas looked fun!

    • It was like a spa day, but in the desert. And a rim of salt around a frozen tequila drink was the perfect compliment!

  4. Fascinating that there are still people who remember the nomadic lifestyle. The past is nearer than we think.

    • Yes, Rick! And as with so many generational changes, younger people want to move on from the nomadic life, but older people want to go back to the nomadic way of life.

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