Nature and Heritage Sites:
Sea of Choices
An exotic oasis, wondrous sea, and stunning desert cliffs and canyons make the Dead Sea Land a very attractive global tourist destination. The unique travel experience offered by this region is a delightful combination of relaxation and indulgence, with a variety of activities and attractions for every age and inclination: hiking, motorized field trips, cycling, extreme sports, spectacular nature reserves, desert life observation, world heritage sites, culinary experiences and of course spa treatments.
Ein Bokek is a unique attraction for active travelers and nature lovers, located a short distance from the hotels area. This beautiful green oasis is situated in the heart of a stunning canyon created by the Bokek River in the wild Judean Desert cliffs. Hiking trails of varying difficulty offer a trip to a river, swimming pools, waterfalls and lush vegetation in the midst of a desert, as well as visit the captivating archaeological remains of the Hasmonean and Byzantine periods, and watch desert wildlife.
HaMakhtesh HaKatan (The Small Crater)
This circular-shaped landform is considered a natural wonder for its beauty and geological uniqueness. The surrounding views combine a pristine desert landscape, multicolored sands and an addictive atmosphere of tranquility. HaMakhtesh HaKatan, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, was created by geological processes that occurred millions of years ago. The circular walking trail marked in the crater, allows a unique experience offering a special desert charm, gorgeous vistas and lots of options for beautiful photos.
Masada National Park and Museum
With nearly a million visitors annually, no wonder that every year Masada tops the list of most popular sites among tourists in Israel. Here, on a secluded cliff-top, 430 meters above the Dead Sea at its feet, in 73 AD occurred one of the most dramatic historical events. Masada served as home to a group of Jewish zealots, men, women and children, who chose to commit suicide rather than to fall into the hands of the Romans that besieged Masada. Their deeds made it national symbol of bravery and courage.
This historical and archaeological site is the most visited in Israel; it has gained worldwide recognition and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The visitors are invited to view the museum artifacts from the time of the uprising, including rare scroll fragments, see the audiovisual show depicting the story of Masada, walk among the ruins of the magnificent northern palace built by King Herod, visit a synagogue built over two thousand years ago, see the ruins a Byzantine church and much more. Masada is also a venue of exceptional cultural events and sports activities happening under the moonlight and at the sunrise.
The Shores of the Dead Sea
The beaches along the Dead Sea are the ultimate tourist destination, attracting travelers from Israel and abroad to see the wonders, admire the view and tranquility, experience the floating sensation and to cover themselves in mud. The combination of mineral water, the wilderness and hot, dry climate creates a pleasurable tourist experience full of medicinal properties, serenity and nature’s primordial beauty.
This perfect experience is enhanced even more by floating in the salt-rich water, devotion to caressing sunlight and the mineral mud against the backdrop of the breathtaking scenery of red desert mountains and the turquoise sea. There are several beaches located at the northern end of the Dead Sea, including the Neve Midbar beach, the Biankini beach and the new Kalia beach. There is also a wide variety of public beaches in Hamei Zohar and Ein Bokek.
Ein Gedi Sea of Spa
The Ein Gedi Sea of Spa is the ideal place to experience the “classic pampering package” of the Dead Sea. It is a holistic experience that includes a “natural spa” of hot thermo-mineral sulfur pools, which derive their waters directly from the bowels of the earth, as well as mineral mud baths, a massage or a relaxing treatment at the spa center and a delectable meal from the local cuisine.
Guests can also enjoy a dip in the waters of the adjacent private beach, or the fresh water swimming pool, which is also suitable for children. The Ein Gedi Sea of Spa store also offers a tempting selection of Dead Sea cosmetics.
AHAVA Visitors Center
If you enjoyed the unique experience of the Dead Sea and you wish to take back home some of its natural health and cosmetic benefits, do not miss a visit to the tourist center and factory store of the AHAVA cosmetic company. Here you can see the factory and learn about the manufacturing process, view a video, observe the exhibition of salt statues, have a bite at the cafeteria and, of course, purchase a wide variety of the company's products from head to toe, as well as other memorabilia.
Much mystery surrounds the Qumran caves – a world-famous archaeological site near the mouth of the river Qumran, where in 1946 a Bedouin boy discovered a cave containing clay pots with obscure manuscripts. Following these findings hundreds of Hebrew manuscripts from the second and first centuries BC were discovered in that cave and its surroundings, these were the “Dead Sea Scrolls.”
Archaeological excavations near the cave recovered the remains of a Jewish settlement that was founded during the Second Temple period. It is theorized that these are remnants of the Essenes – a secretive sect of the Judean Desert that excites the imagination with the ruins of its residential buildings, a cemetery, ritual baths and evidence of agriculture and various ancient crafts. The site is a declared National Park with a visitors’ center, excursions and trips, an installation and observation points. Many Christians visit the place because of the belief that John the Baptist was related to the Essenes and visited here.
Imagine an oasis with a surprising variety of plants and animals, including a herd of wild donkeys, mountain goats, birds and ponds filled with spring water good for splashing and swimming. Add to that a marked route between archaeological ruins from over two thousand years ago, an Iron Age fort and buildings from the Hasmonean period, and you will get one of the most beautiful and unique nature reserves in Israel, also known by its Arabic name – Ein Feshkha.
Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
In the heart of the desert, near the shores of the Dead Sea, at the foot of rugged cliffs, there is a green paradise. Ein Gedi is the meeting point of the past and the present, of man and nature. The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is the largest oasis in the Israel. There are two streams rushing within its borders, Nahal David and Nahal Arugot, as well as other springs and waterfalls, which are surrounded by an abundant flora and fauna – a herd of mountain goats, foxes and hyraxes. Leopards also lived here until recently.
The settlement in the region began about 5,000 years ago, as evidenced by the archaeological remains of an ancient settlement dispersed in the Tel Goren reservation. Other archaeological findings include the remains of an ancient flour mill at the Ein Gedi spring and ruins of an ancient Chalcolithic temple near the spring. The reserve has trails of different difficulty levels, from segments appropriate for the whole family, to segments for experienced hikers only.
The Botanical Garden at Kibbutz Ein Gedi
What began as a kibbutz flower garden became the lovely Ein Gedi Botanical Garden, which boasts more than 900 plant species, some of which are very rare. The unique location and climate serve as a “fertile ground” for the flourishing of plants from tropical and desert regions around the world. A visit to the garden, which is spread over 100 acres, is a unique experience for botany lovers and anyone who fancies landscaped gardens. Cacti enthusiasts are expected to enjoy a particularly inspiring experience. Do not miss the opportunity to take a picture of the giant baobab trees.
Qasr el Yahud
This baptism site is situated where the Jordan River flows into the plains of Jericho. Here, over two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. This site is considered one of the most important Christian sites in Israel, where baptizing ceremonies are conducted throughout the year, as flocks of believers arrive from all over the world. Pilgrimage to the site reaches its peak on the day of the Epiphany, when thousands of pilgrims gather into a colorful procession, wearing a variety of costumes while singing, playing musical instruments and dancing.
This site features a variety of trails of different difficulty levels that pass through enormous cliffs in a pathway that is filled with rushing waters during the flood season. Wadi Darga is one of the largest and the most impressive of the Judean Desert streams, and it is the ultimate attraction for travelers seeking an adventure.
The stream that runs along 43 km and drains into the Dead Sea, also offer trails leading to ancient caves, where remains and letters from the period of the Bar Kokhba uprising were discovered. The lower part of the river known as Darga, is a particularly popular route that offers experienced travelers and adrenaline junkies a rope climbing adventure in dozens of waterfalls, as well as swimming in deep natural pools and strenuous climbing in a mountain landscape.
Wadi Prazim and Mount Sodom
Many hikers and cyclists enjoy the challenge offered by the narrow and winding canyons of the Sodom and Prazim streams that flow near Mount Sodom and the Amiaz Plain. The culmination of the trail, as a perfect catharsis to much effort put in the track, is a spectacular view of the Dead Sea from the top of Mount Sodom. To enhance the experience, some of the travelers take this route after sunset, in the light of a full moon.