Trek Israel: The Sunrise Above Masada

July 12, Trek Israel Day 14
The day began with a loud rapping on the door at 8am. Our hosts at the kibbutz had brought breakfast to our rooms. After our meal of eggs, cheese, bread and muffins, we headed out for a tour of the surrounding kibbutzim. First we saw a greenhouse where they grew a variety of hydroponic plants. We then visited a large array of solar panels that provide energy for several small communities in the area. We also stopped in a field full of date trees, which came at a great time because the a/c on the bus briefly stopped working.
At the end of the tour, our guide took us to the sands dune and gave us kites to fly in the wind. Most of the group had some difficulty to get their kite to fly, but one or two people were able to get them up the entire time. After the tour we returned to Yotvata for lunch and ice cream. During our trip down to the Bedouin tents, we stopped at an outdoor mall with the most amazing playground known to man.
We finished our journey to Kfar Hanokdim. We were all very excited to get off the bus and ride the camels, especially our staffer Drew and his stuffed camel Humphrey. After we mounted the camel, we started our quick, bumpy, and smelly walk across the road and back. When we made our get away from the roaring camels, we entered the refuge of the bedouin tents that were conveniently next to the camels.
Leaving our bags on the lovely mattresses in the spacious quarters, we rushed through the sprawling campgrounds to the second biggest tent to meet an authentic bedouin. We were greeted with hot tea that was absolutely delicious. They also have us coffee in a tiny cup that wasn’t even full, however we learned that if you receive a full cup of coffee you are supposed to be kicked out, weird. We were able to ask questions about life as a bedouin.
Afterwards, we went to the biggest tent in the camp, which was the mess hall. Our dinner consisted of tea, fruit, hummus, meat, potatoes and cous cous. The vegetarian meatballs were amazing. After dinner, we talked to the journey kids and bought stuff in the shuk until the bonfire. Together with journey, we sang songs and played games as well as gave the journey kids advice on hiking and climbing Masada. Walking to the middle of the desert, we laid down where our conselor Drew taught us some constellations and planets we could stargaze at. Afterwards we went to bed since we had to get up at 4am for Masada in the morning.
Signing off,
– Matthew and Ethan
July 13, Trek Israel Day 15
After spending a beautiful, amazing night at the bedouin tents, we woke up to the words “let’s go hike Masada!” It was 4am and we were ready for a day of adventure. Even though we were all exhausted, we knew that a pre-sunrise hike up Masada was definitely worth the the lack of sleep!

 

Once we were all up and ready, we hopped on the bus to the base of Masada. Reaching our starting point, we all thought that due to the intensity of our sea to sea hike, Masada would be a piece of cake. Maybe not a piece of cake, but definitely worth the jaw dropping view. Upon our arrival to the top of Masada, we were all incredibly amazed. The sun was beginning to rise and we all recognized some of the true beauty that Israel has to offer.

 

Watching the sunrise, we were all enlightened by the story behind Masada existence and meaning. We then got a tour of the mountaintop and ask is previous uses. It was extremely interesting and touching to hear that the path we just hiked up was once used for battle. Once the sun was up, we began or descent down Masada. Because the sun was now up, it was scorching hot out, so we needed to drink tons of water. As we finished our hike down the snake path, we stopped for breakfast and to shop at Ahava (Dead Sea Cosmetic store). We all agreed that it was nice and relaxing to sit and rest for a bit. Masada was definitely an experience I’ll never forget!

By 9:30am, yes, AM! We jumped on the bus and drove over to Ein Gedis nature reserve. We changed into our bathing suits because Ein Gedi is known to have beautifully refreshing Waterfalls.

While we were sweating as we walked up to the falls, we knew that in the end there would be a joyous reward. Indeed we were correct. We reached or destination, the waterfall where everyone immediately ran into the water. After spending a while in the water, we dried off and hiked back down. If you couldn’t tell already, we’re getting in shape here on Trek Israel!

Once we got to the Dead Sea, we ate some lunch and headed to the beach. Prior to even going to the Dead Sea, our staff told us to put Hummus everywhere that we had a cut. They gave us this whole explanation on why it works, so of course we did it. While putting it on at dinner the night before, the other BBYO groups looked at us like we were crazy. We explained what we were doing and they just laughed. After floating in the sea, we realized it was all a prank, so no, hummus does not help with open wounds. My tie looked like a chickpea for no reason, but it was really funny, we must retaliate!

The Dead Sea was ridiculously salty, yet incredibly mind blowing. In addition, we got to put mud all over ourselves. What an experience that was. Everyone coated in mud looked hilarious. Did I mention that now I’m a soft as a baby’s bottom? Once we were all drained from being in the sun all day, we headed back to our hotel in Jerusalem.

 

On our way back, we stopped for more ice cream, we definitely need Israeli Magnum ice cream bars in the US. The cool part about this hotel stay is that we got to pick our roommates so we were all very pleased. After dinner we had a speaker who spoke about the Middle East and what’s really happening. He had a great sense of humor so even though we were exhausted and talking about a difficult topic, we all enjoyed the speaker. We had one of the most incredible days of Trek Israel so far.
XOXO,
Olivia
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