Visit Masada and Ein Gedi, two must-see wonders of the Judean Desert, on a full-day tour from Jerusalem, led by a local guide! After traveling past the Dead Sea's shores, ride by cable car to the ancient mountain fortress of Masada, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the excavations of King Herod's magnificent palace complex, and then travel to the nature reserve of Ein Gedi for a walk through the stunning natural oasis, nestled deep in the desert.
Start your day with a pickup from your central Jerusalem hotel, and then travel south along the dusty roads of the Judean Desert. Pass the Inn of the Good Samaritan ' the setting of one of the New Testament's most famous parables ' and watch the sultry barren hills of the desert give way to the stone towers of Jericho, one of the world's oldest cities.
Continue alongside the shores of the Dead Sea, admiring its serene blue water juxtaposed against the sun-baked desert canyons, and then stop at the cable car station that leads to Masada. The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the ruins of King Herod's ancient fortress, a palace complex that later became a besieged Jewish stronghold against a bloody Roman invasion.
Hop inside the cable car and ride to the mountain's flat-topped summit while gazing down over Snake, a winding walkway that leads to the top. Explore Masada's excavations with your guide, discovering ruined stone houses, bathhouses and a 1st-century synagogue and more. After learning about the site during the days of King Herod and during the Roman attack of 73 AD, return down the mountain by cable car.
Enjoy a quick break for lunch at a cafe at the base station (own expense), and then travel through the desert to Ein Gedi, a tropical nature reserve where you'll spend your afternoon. Pay your entrance fee, and then head inside for a walk, following the streams that trickle past waterfalls, lush tropical foliage and rare birdlife. The oasis is said to have been the place where King David once hid from Kind Saul, and your guide will recount biblical stories from the site as you walk.
After exploring Ein Gedi, return to your coach and travel back to Jerusalem, passing the Qumran Caves where ancient biblical scrolls have been found. Your day trip then finishes at your central Jerusalem hotel.