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From Tel Aviv to Eilat via Masada (June 10, 2008)

Traveling from Tel Aviv to Dead Sea via West Bank. Visit of Masada, a fortified hill near the Dead Sea. Driving across the Negev to Eilat. Night in a youth hostel.

The Dead Sea in the West Bank


We left Tel Aviv to the south of Israel; we took first the road to Jerusalem. After passing the holy city we entered in West Bank. The road goes down and down to the lowest point on the surface of the Earth. On the side of the road we have passed some Bedouin with their camels. Camps of Bedouin with dwellings made from corrugated metal and sheets of plastic look like shanty towns. Arrived near the Dead Sea we continued toward the south, following the salt shore.

Judean Desert, West Bank Judean Desert, West Bank
Judean Desert, West Bank Desolated landscape of the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea, West Bank Dead Sea, West Bank
The Dead Sea in the West Bank.
In the distance, Jordan.

Masada


On the side of the road which follows the Dead Sea on one side and the Judean desert on the other side, we met some dust devils. We did a first stop at Masada. Masada is an ancient palaces and fortifications on top of an isolated rock plateau, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert. We went up with the cable car. From there we discovered a splendid view overlooking the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert. The cliffs on the east edge are about 400 metres high and the cliffs on the west are about 100 metres high. It is on this rock that Herod the Great decided to fortify Masada to guard the eastern border of his kingdom.

In 66 AD, at the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War against the Roman Empire, a group of Jewish extremists called the Sicarii overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After several months of siege Romans breached the wall of Masada in 73. When they entered the fortress, the Romans discovered 936 corpses. According to the legend, they killed each other to avoid captivity. They chose death as free men rather than a life of slavery. We went down by the Snake path, under 40°C.

Masada, Israel Masada, Israel
Desert area near Masada.

Masada, Israel

Masada, Israel Masada, Israel
Viewpoint from Masada overhanging the Dead Sea.

Remnants of a Roman camp at Masada.

Masada, Israel Masada, Israel

Masada, Israel


Masada, Israel
The « Snake path» : about 45 minutes
of descent under 40°C.

Masada, Israel Masada, Israel

Road to Eilat


Back in the plain, we stopped near the Dead Sea, on the south part. The ground is made of salt, this gives a turquoise blue color to the water. When we soak the foot in the sea the skin becomes very greasy, and if we have a wound the skin is immediately prickling.

We hit the road again to Eilat, going along the Jordan border. We took the road which travels the Negev desert. The landscapes are dry and hot, only few kibutsim show the human presence.

Dead Sea, Israel

Dead Sea, Israel Dead Sea, Israel
Dead Sea, Israel The Dead Sea near Ein Bokek (south part).

Negev Desert, Israel Negev Desert, Israel
Across the Negev Desert.

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