Israel Journey #1 – From the Kibbutz to Masada

On day 16, we started off with a very interesting and educational tour of our accommodations, Kibbutz Ketura, located in Arava Valley. It was a great opportunity to be able to understand how a Kibbutz functions. The main point that was discussed during our tour was how the Kibbutz thrives in a desert climate. 

Following the tour, we participated in an activity that allowed us to get a glimpse of what it is like living on the Kibbutz throughout the year. This simulation was extremely interesting because, as a group, we acted as if we were a part of the Kibbutz committees. Our goal was to work together to make decisions and come up with solutions to common situations or problems that one may find while living on a Kibbutz. 

After lunch on the Kibbutz, we headed back to the bus and got ready for a long bus ride through the Judean Desert. The bus ride was well worth the length because when we got off we were at the Dead Sea. We got to walk around the area and go shopping in the Dead Sea mall. 

Swimming in the Dead Sea was a surreal experience. Being able to effortlessly float because of the salt in the water is something that many of us had not had the chance to do before. It was almost like being at a spa!

We ended the day with a camel ride at the Bedouin Tents. Participant Mattie said, “I was on a camel with Axelle and the Camel I rode was named Caramel.”

Following our camel rides, we had a delicious feast provided by those who live at and run the Bedouin Tents. There were lots different food options, all of which were traditional Bedouin foods. 

Before we went to bed, we had a conversation about what it is like to be a woman in the Bedouin community. We discussed the women’s journey of working to break down stereotypes. This was a really inspirational talk about a very relevant topic not only in the Bedouin community, but all over the world. 

Finally, we finished the night with a bonfire. We all sang together and bonded over our shared appreciation for our gracious hosts. 

On day 17, we woke up at 4am in the Bedouin Tents. While waking up at this hour was extremely exhausting, we are all so happy we did because it allowed us to hike Masada in time to see the sunrise. It was such a gorgeous site that none of us will ever forget. 

After our hike, we stayed on top of Masada for a while and participated in a tour of Herod’s mountain-top desert fortress. The amount of intricate architecture from centuries ago that we witnessed made us feel like we were traveling back in time. Following the tour, we made our way back down the mountain via the Snake Path. 

Once we got down, we had breakfast at the Ana Masada Hotel. We all couldn’t believe how early in the day it still was! 

Next on our itinerary was another hike. On this hike, we got to swim in the waterfalls that surrounded the hike. It was so refreshing after two long hikes on a hot day. 

Finally, after lunch we got back on the bus and headed back to Jerusalem. On the drive, we took in the desert scenery. Participant, Talia, explained how we also “we stopped at an abandoned Jordanian military camp which was covered in art. It was really cool to see the graffiti and artwork on the walls.” All of our teens loved looking at and taking in all the artwork and creativity. 

Once we arrived at our accommodation, we were all exhausted, but in the best way possible. The rest of the day consisted of resting, laundry, dinner, and bonding. 

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