The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth, at about 400 meters below sea level. Beyond the luxurious facilities and treatments offered by the hotels at the Dead Sea, its proximity to Masada and the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, make it a prime tourist attraction.
Begin your day with a visit to Masada National Park. This is one of Israel’s most interesting and inspiring sites for Israelis and tourists alike. The site was built as a fortress at the top of a lofty cliff overlooking the Dead Sea at the eastern edge of the Judean Desert. Visitors are amazed by the breathtaking scenery, enjoy listening to the stories of the glorious heroics of Masada’s defenders, and view remains from the time of Herod and the Great Revolt against the Romans. Tour the ancient remains at the archaeological site, see the impressive objects and archeological finds at the museum and view a short film that tells the story of the rebellion at Masada. There isn’t a road for vehicles connecting the eastern and western sides of Masada, so you can park at Masada West (coming from the direction of Arad)) and climb the hill, and then climb down on the way back (about 15 minutes). Those not wanting to make the climb can park at Masada East (coming from the direction of the Dead Sea) and take the cable car to the top.
Take Route 31 to Masada West – Ramparts (a 14 minute drive from Kfar Hanokdim).
From Masada continue on to the Ein Gedi Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens cover the entire area of the kibbutz. You will be impressed by the rich, diverse vegetation which was brought from different continents, creating a unique oasis that show how water and life have vanquished the arid desert. There is also a petting zoo where you can meet and pet ibex, turtles, lemurs, goats and more.
Take Routes 30 and 90 to Ein Gedi (an hour and a half from Masada-west, an hour from Kfar Hanokdim).
For lunch have a picnic on one of the beautiful kibbutz lawns (you can shop at one of the supermarkets in Arad). If you prefer to eat out, there is a restaurant at Ein Gedi that offers light meals (pizza, quiches and the like).
From the Ein Gedi Botanical Gardens continue to the Ein Gedi nature reserve.
At the Reserve you will be amazed at the sight of naturally flowing water in the primeval desert. Two large rivers flow through the reserve: Nahal David to the north and Nahal Arugot to the south, as well as the four freshwater springs that flow from them: Ein David from Nahal David, Ein Arugot from Nahal Arugot, and the Shulamit and Ein Gedi springs on the slopes between the rivers. Thanks to its geographical location which brings the Dead Sea Valley, steep cliffs and freshwater sources together, a large variety of plants and animals native to the region live here in harmony. And so in the Reserve’s spectacular scenery you will find water and heat-loving tropical plants such as acacia, jujube, Dead Sea apple of Sodom and others next to desert plants adapted to the heat and dryness. You can walk along one of the routes in the Reserve, which vary in duration from an hour and a half to a full day, and take dips in the cool water. You can choose the itinerary that suits you best at the entrance to the Reserve or on their website: http://www.parks.org.il/ParksAndReserves/enGedi/Pages/default.aspx
Take Route 90 to the Reserve (eight minutes from the Ein Gedi Botanical Gardens).