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Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

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Lewes, United...
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Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

We will have a rental car for this excursion, so I don't need public transport suggestions. We plan to do this trip on a Wednesday. Is there a reason this is a bad choice? Is there a reason why a different day might be a better choice.

Based on reading itineraries published by tour bus companies, they always seem to go to Masada first and then head towards the Dead Sea. I'm assuming but not actually sure where these tours head to along the Dead Sea shore, but my research suggests that Ein Bokek is where we should head.

I'm guessing the reason they go to Masada first is because the morning will be cooler than early afternoon.

Given this, we were thinking of reversing our trip and heading towards the Dead Sea first and reaching Masada after the tour buses have left. Is this a bad idea because of the heat? (We will be doing this roughly in the very middle of April.)

I have seen suggestions that a good spot to experience the Dead Sea would be do use the facilities at the Crown Plaza, but am open to other suggestions, too. I had a look on their website and couldn't find the fee for day usage. Do all the hotels around there have day usage/access to the Dead Sea? Are they all likely to supply towels included in this fee? Provided we can have a hot shower to clean off the mud and smell, I can see no reason why we can't then spend the rest of our day heading off to Masada afterwards.

Please may I have some suggestions of where to stop for a light lunch? We would rather not use one of the hotels as they are always much more expensive.

Is the light show at Masada daily? Will we have a problem driving back to Jerusalem in the dark on roads we don't know?

Any other suggestions would also be appreciated.

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1. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

I would recommend very strongly that you leave Masada at the beginning of the day - even in April it will be quite hot and the difference of a few hours can be great. There may be many groups on Masada at the same time and you won't really notice it. It is not unusual to see 30 or more tour buses parked at the base of Masada and yet when you reach the top it won't seem crowded at all - it is very big.

The day of the week doesn't make much of a difference - a greater concern is if there is a holiday on the day you choose since many people will take advantage of the day to travel - however, there are no such holidays on Wednesdays this April.

The one day tours often go to Mineral Beach after Masada - however, any of the hotels at Ein Bokek are a good choice if you are looking for a spa package a few more amenities beyond a shower. If you take one of these packages you will get towels included.

In addition to the Crown Plaza you can also look at the Lot or Hod hotels for their packages. If you choose not to have a package that includes lunch, there are some coffee shops and restaurants at Ein Bokek too.

If you want to go to the Sound and Light Show you need to understand that it is held on the Western side of Masada. What this means is that you will have to drive south and go around the mountain ridge to Arad to get to that entrance to Masada. This will take about an hour and a half. The road is a twisting mountain road. After the show you should then head west taking 31 to 40 and then to route 6 till the Soreq interchange. Then follow the signs to Jerusalem, it is clearly marked - you will take rt 3 to 1 and then drive up to Jerusalem.

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2. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

I totally agree with everything Oreets had written.

I would add:

* Did you consider going to the Ein Gedi oasis? ther'es a wonderful nature reserve over there.

* Masada's Sound & Light show occurs every Tuesday and Thursday at 9pm. More details here: parks.org.il/parks/…default.aspx

If you take the directions Oreets supplied for you way back, most of the way would be in lighted roads (only the first part would be dark).

I will add: When you drive from hwy 31 to hwy 40 (west), you would get to "Shoket" junction (hwy 31 and 60) there would be a sign indicating two possible ways to get to Jerusalem: via hwy 60 (arrow) / via hwy 40 (arrow). Use hwy 40!

Don't be afraid to use hwy 6, even if the rental agency would tell you not to use hwy 6 (which is an electronic toll road - no booths just cameras) - this part of hwy 6 (from Be'er Sheva to the exit to Jerusalem (hwy 3) at Sorek interchange) is free of charge.

I'm adding a map:

http://goo.gl/maps/kQNro

(A) - depart from Jerusalem

(B) - optional - Ein Gedi nature reserve

(C) - Masada national park

(D) - Ein Bokek center

(E) - Western approach of Masada national park - for the sound&light show

(F) - Shoket junction (31 and 60) (from around this point on till Jerusalem you would have light, except for hwy 6 which is dark but very easy to drive)

(G) - back to Jerusalem

* As for lunch, I know that Lot hotel day-package includes a lunch, so maybe other hotels too.

Even if they don't, Ein Bokek is the regional center of the Dead Sea (on the Israeli side of course) and there are many cafes and restaurants over there.

Edited: 19 March 2013, 19:51
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3. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

The main reason for doing Masada first is the heat but also because most tours use the northern beaches, so it makes sense to start at the farthest point. The hotel packages generally include lunch and start at around ₪140 per person including access to all facilities, towels and lockers.

Note that while putting mud on you is fun and nice on your skun, you must wash it off either in the sea or outdoor showers on the beach. Mud covered people are not allowed indoors.

If you opt to go to the public beach or spa at Ein Gedi or Qalya there are places to eat on the premesis or near by. There are also hot showers at these sites.

If you choose to do the sound and light show pick up something to eat/drink in Arad on the way to the site.

Chana

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4. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

Hello, i am plannig to do the following:

Rent a car at night in Jerusalem, leave around 3-4am to catch the sunset at Masada, then go to Ein Gedi around 9-10am, spend the day there and come back to Jerusalem and return the car around 7-8pm,.

Is this feasible?

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5. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

mtorresr80 - more than feasible, you would have spare time! At Ein Gedi, do you intend to visit the nature reserve and the Dead Sea beach?

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6. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

Hello Amos, thanks for the fast reply.

i know its a rush, sadly we only have 3 nights in Jerusalem, so I am planning to do this day trip in our stay in Jerusalem.

We rather see and get into the dead sea, than spend the day in the natural reserve park.

PS: i am looking for a Jerusalem history book, whichone could you recommend?

Regards, Miguel

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7. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

Miguel, Amos indicated you had lots of time to do as you wanted on that day. It would not be a rush. In fact, if you have the energy you can do the long hike at Ein Gedi and also visit Qumran. A couple of hours at the Dead Sea is plenty of time as you really can't swim and floating is fine for awhile but it is not recommended you spend many hours in the water.

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8. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

SussexWorldTraveller, while it is fine to do Masada later in the day if you wish, I would agree with everyone else that it is more enjoyable earlier in the day. I was there last week (mid March) and it was 35 degrees up top at 10am. Israel gets heat waves and it makes the weather quite unpredictable, so while it might be cooler in April, it also might get really hot.

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9. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

Mtorres:

Most car rental agencies close by 6 PM. You would have to pick up the car the afternoon before and leave the Dead Sea no later than 4 PM If you want to return the car that day.

Other options are:

- keep the car for two days and visit Latrun, Bet Guvrin, Stalactite Cave the second day.

- take the Abraham Hostel tour to the Dead Sea. It goes to Massada, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and a dip in the Sea.

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10. Re: Planning a day trip from Jerusalem to Masada and Dead Sea

Thanks all for your advice - I've filtered out the answers to Miguel! ;-)

What would we expect to pay for a day pass or whatever they're called at the Ein Bokek hotels, roughly?

Is Mineral Beach in Ein Bokek, or not? I take it, it's the public beach area with full access to the Dead Sea? Are there fees there, too? Do they have hot showers there?

I have every intention of cleaning myself up as much as possible after my muddy wallow! I've very sensitive skin, and while it's supposed to be good for skin problems, all that salt will just sting and irritate me, I expect. Hope I don't have any cuts and scratches!

Oh, also, do you recommend we keep footwear on all the time? I read somewhere on the Jordan side that the steep banks can have sharp rocks, suggesting visitors should keep footwear on. We both have Teva style sandals that wouldn't be harmed by the salty water and mud!

It seems and early start and get Masada done before the main heat of the day is what we will do, and just relax at the Dead Sea afterwards. OK, so having said we'd go on a Wednesday, it seems there's no evening light show that day anyway. So we won't be driving back in the dark, after all. The previous day is Independence Day, a public holiday so we expect the area to be heaving, so will avoid it. The Thursday, the following day we need to get to Tiberias so will be heading north, so we can only do it on the Wednesday.

Incidentally, for others visitors following this topic, we looked into the Abraham Hostel tour. It worked out more expensive for 2 adults than renting a car for an extra day. However, we always needed a rental car for the following day.

Thanks for the tip about the toll road that isn't toll at that point. We'd never have known. (We're very wary about toll roads in foreign parts at the moment after a recent nasty experience!)

Thanks again,

SWT