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Dead Sea & Masada >> Travel Guide

The Judea Desert is home to some of Israel's most remarkable attractions, national parks and reservations such as the Dead Sea, Masada, Qumran National Park, the Ein Gedi National Park and many more.
The Dead Sea
If you consider a massive accumulation of salt to be water, then the Dead Sea is the world's lowest body of water at over 400 meters below sea level. Due to the fact that water can flow in, but can only evaporate out, the Dead Sea is rich in salt and minerals. This amazing natural formation is a wonderful source for human enjoyment. These are manifested in numerous resorts, hotels, mud baths, spas and your basic floating-on-the-water-while-foolishly-attempting-to-read-a-book… For complete relaxation, bathe in therapeutic minerals or treat your whole body with a mineral-rich mud mask for a rejuvenating sensation. If you're still not completely relaxed, unwind with a soothing massage in one of the many spas on the west shore of the Dead Sea.
Masada literally means fortress, and a glorious one it is. Located on a rock plateau in the arid Judean Dessert, overlooking it's barren ally - the Dead Sea,  Masada is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites (since 2001) and is indeed a must see. This historic site whispers the story of non-submission, fortitude and courage of sorts. Today, agile visitors can walk the 45 minute "Snake Path" or stride the steep 20 minutes Roman Ramp, or take the cable car to reach Herod's magnificent palace, incredibly crafted atop the Masada plateau, as well as remnants of the Zealots' dwellings, synagogue, store rooms and more. The view is as fabulous as it is serene. The captivating story of the siege of Masada and the rebels' last days is audio-visually exhibited at the visitors center, twice weekly between March and October.
The Qumran Caves
The discovery of the dead-sea scrolls in the Qumran caves is one of 20th century's greatest archeological findings. The scrolls are actually on display at the Shrine of the Book (a wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem), however, at Qumran you can see the cave where the first scrolls were accidently found by a Bedouin boy, as well as other excavated structures from the end of the second temple era, including the quaint persimmon perfume production site. For trekking fans, Qumran together with Einot Tzukim offer both long (6 hours) and shorter treks where you can observe wild life that has made salt and sand their home. Adjacent to Kibbutz Kalia, about 1.5 km in land from the northwest tip of the Dead Sea, the Qumran National Park provides a sense of connection with history, if you consider the fact that the scrolls date back to mid 2nd Century BC.
Ein Gedi National Park 
The Ein Gedi National Park is located about a kilometer from Kibbutz Ein Gedi, approximately 35 km south of Qumran on the Dead Sea Coast. The park is an incredible oasis, with sweet water springs generating about three million cubic meters of water annually (!), hosting flora varieties that create Tropical, Mediterranean and Desert environments, and animal and bird life you may encounter while hiking through the reserve. Apparently, in spring and fall, during migration, the winged residents of the park are joined by over 200 other bird species on route to their "season vacation". Hiking trails vary in length and difficulty, however, they all promise a reviving relief from the desert sun and a spectacular glimpse of nature's creations.
Tip: If Arugot and David streams flood in winter hiking is prohibited in the national park.
Kibbutz Ein Gedi 
Kibbutz Ein Gedi is home of internationally renowned botanical gardens, growing over 900 plant species from around the world. In addition to classy accommodations, the kibbutz also offers other wonderful tourist attractions, spa, wellness center, desert safari excursions, as well as being a hop-and-a-skip away from the Ein Gedi National Park, the Dead Sea, Masada and the astounding Judea desert.

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