A merely 25-minute drive away from Jerusalem, the Dead Sea is one of the most extraordinary places on the planet. Its therapeutic water, set in stunning views, within iconic Biblical landscapes, makes this lake one of the most popular tour destinations in Israel. Our private tour offer to the Dead Sea will cover a unique range of attractions and activities, providing an experience that will remembered long after the tour is over.
Ride the Camel at Sea Level Sign
Descending from Jerusalem, right away you will feel the elevation change. The urban atmosphere gradually disappears and you begin to see the rural, barren hills of the wilderness. On the side of the road you will notice Bedouin communities, some still living in tents and herding their livestock.
On the way, you might want to stop at the sea level sign for a photo opportunity and ride the camel. From there, the remainder of the tour is all BELOW Sea level! Upon reaching the Dead Sea shores, the winding road becomes stunningly beautiful. Paved between steep cliffs and the shoreline, you might spot some ibex (a local species of wild goats) on our way to Masada.
Masada was first built by King Herod about 2,000 years ago. The flat plateau at the top of a steep cliff was ideal for Herod’s wish to create an impregnable fortress. Here, he planned to safely store his wealth, and possibly hide, in case of political unrest. He successfully reigned without a need to ever use the site. 70 years later, Jewish refugees fled to Masada seeking shelter from the Romans. Sadly, their efforts were unsuccessful.The Romans managed to build a giant ramp facing the side of the mountain and successfully hurled up the tower with a battering ram. Losing all hope, the Jews favored death to Roman slavery and committed suicide.
Masada is one of the most popular and fascinating tourist destinations in Israel. The detailed account of the Jewish refugees’ tragic end here, nearly 2,000 years ago, is mind boggling. It is also well attested in the archaeological finds made at the site. Furthermore, the majestic views of the desert from the mountain are breathtaking. You want to make sure you give yourself a moment to comprehend all of this before taking the cable car back. At the base of the mountain, a modern visitors center has a shop with some Dead Sea products, but it can also be a good spot for a lunch break. You might also want to consider a visit to the local museum to enhance your experience of this remarkable site.
Hike in Ein-Gedi
Another spot for a lunch break is at Kibbutz Ein Gedi, which you should definitely follow up with a stroll in its beautiful botanical gardens. Nearby, we can also visit the ancient synagogue of Ein-Gedi. If you brought bathing suits we can also take an hour and a half hike in Ein-Gedi’s Nature Reserve, and dip in the refreshing water of this oasis.
Decipher the Dead Sea Scrolls
On our way back to Jerusalem, we will pass by the caves where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. We will stop to spot the caves and review the fascinating story of how the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and what they say. It is also possible to visit Qumran, a mysterious site that may have been the headquarters of the group who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.
|Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls|
In 1947 two Bedouins found the first of 11 caves, where hundreds of scrolls were hidden some 2,000 years ago. Most scholars believe the scrolls represent a Jewish sect, whose headquarters was in the nearby site of Qumran. This sect objected to the priests in Jerusalem and lived in anticipation for a messiah. A fascinating and intriguing theory links this group to John the Baptist and the inception of Christianity.
Float on the Dead Sea
Of course, no tour to this area is complete without a swim at the Dead Sea! Known for its therapeutic water and mud, we can experience it all at one of the public beaches near Qumran, or at one of the hotels near Masada.
Feeling rejuvenated, we make our way back to Jerusalem. If time and will permits, we could stop at the baptism site near Jericho, visit the Balm of the Gilead Farm, or ride along Wadi Qelt for a view of Saint George Monastery.
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Additional Attractions for a Private Tour to Dead Sea
Visit the Good Samaritan Inn, traditional Holy Christian site of combined with a unique and attractive museum of ancient mosaic floors.
If army permits, drive also along the border and visit historical Beit-HaAravah site and King Abdullah bridge.