[Mom – September 8, 2019 – Today’s adventures included a drive along the Dead Sea, a visit to the Masada National Park and then back to the camel ranch where we are spending our second night. At the ranch we took a camel ride and had a traditional Camel Trek pack meal. Bill wore himself out on the trip over so stayed behind to rest up for more adventures tomorrow.]
Our first full day in Israel started by me taking Mom and her friend, Janice, on a tour of the Masada fortress. This amazing fortress is a World Heritage Site and is built on a plateau that is 1800 by 900 feet in size with sheer cliff sides that are 300-1300 feet high.
It was built by Herod the Great between 37 and 31 BC to be a fortress in case of a revolt. Of course if a king is going to live in a fortress he needs a palace, right? Apparently in Herod’s case he needed TWO palaces in such a small space. I guess it is good to be the king?
While the mesa like plateau is amazing and the fortress and palaces are incredible, it is the events of 73AD that had really sealed the deal for this fortress in history. That is the year the Roman Army laid siege to the fortress to defeat the last hold out of Jewish rebellion of 70AD (when the 2nd temple was destroyed in Jerusalem). They had to build an earthen ramp up to the walls and then use a siege weapon to destroy the wall. When they entered all the Romans found was burned buildings and the bodies of the rebels and their families.
As big as the site is, it is easier to take as three sections. The first section is the best and is the Northern Palace. It consist of the outer building (administrator’s house, store rooms, bath house, etc), The best part is the three levels of the palace itself as you have to go down stairs to see the palace that was build down the northern tip of the plateau. The second section would be the western wall where you can see a synagogue, pigeon house, the wall, the siege ramp, and where the Romans broke through. The final section would be the Western Palace. I did not find this one to be as cool as the northern one.
On the was to Masada we drove by Mount Sodom and I think it would be really fun to hike up the large hill, because it is 80% salt and there are several salt caves you can explore. Even I think this is a place you must have a guide for, plus I had my parents with me so no hiking for me this time.
We also were able to see the southern part of the Dead Sea and, as my mother said, it is much prettier than expected. The water is a brilliant blue and you can tell this part of the Dead Sea is not that deep.
Before I sign off I wanted to tell you where we stayed for two nights. I booked some cabins at the Camel Ranch near Dimona and everyone loved it. The cabins were along a large pen of camels, so you got to see and hear the camels anytime you wanted. We even took a one hour camel ride that was a big hit!!!!!