DEAD SEA & MASADA

Using a public bus (@ 50 USD for two persons) may be an interesting alternative to booking a private bus (@ 150 USD for two persons) when visiting the Dead Sea¹, and Masada from Jerusalem.

① Jerusalem Central Bus Station (228 Yafo Rd): Either walk or take the Jerusalem Light Rail (₪5.90) to the station. 

- Go to the Information Booth on the third floor and ask for the platform for the #486 bus to the Dead Sea. 

- Board the Egged² Bus #486. When you board, inform the bus driver you are traveling to Ein Bokek and he will charge you accordingly, as the fare is dependent on the destination. Have cash, the driver does not take credit card.

-Use Egged.co.il to verify time of departure (normally 0900, 0940, 1030, etc.) fare (₪37.50) and Travel Time (@ 2.0 hours). Note that Egged Bus #444 also runs from Jerusalem Central Bus Station to Ein Bokek. This bus maybe crowded and fully booked as it runs all the way to Eilat, therefore while Bus #486 is a better option, Bus #444 may also be an option. 

Note: Ein Gedi is closed to the public due to sinkholes³ caused by the lowering of the Dead Sea.

   

② Ein Bokek: Exit the bus at the third stop in Ein Bokek, next to the Isrotel Gamin Hotel Dead Sea (see below map of Ein Bokek). Directly across the street is the public beach:

- ask the bus driver and other passengers to confirm the exact location of the bus stop

- the public beach is free and has free changing rooms. It is one of the nicest public beaches I have ever seen.   

- the Beefpoint Grill is a good pit stop for a Gold star Lager⁴ and a Mediterranean Salad 

When you have finished bathing go back out to the street, turn right and walk about 200 feet to the bus stop in front of the Lot⁵ Hotel. (a bus runs every 45 minutes or so). The online schedule is not accurate as busses may bunch up or spread out after departing bus station – use the above website as a guide only.

- When you board, inform the bus driver you are traveling to Masada and he will charge you accordingly, as the fare is dependent on the destination. Have cash, the driver does not take credit card. Fare (₪14.50) and Travel Time (@ 20 minutes). Note that Egged Bus #444 also runs from Eilat to Jerusalem Central Bus Station via Ein Bokek. This bus maybe crowded and fully booked as it started in Eilat, therefore while Bus #486 is a better option; Bus #444 may also be an option. 

③ Masada: exit the bus at Masada (not at the stop on Route 90). You can see Masada and the Masada Visitor Center from the bus stop. Ask the driver if you have concerns. 

-You can either walk or take the cable car to the top: time, weather and fitness permitting. A good compromise might be to cable car up and walk down.  

- To return to Jerusalem, board the Bus #486 (or #444) at the exact stop you exited. Have cash, the driver does not take credit card. Fare (₪37.50) and Travel Time (@ 1.75 hours). 

Note: You may be approached by a private tour bus driver who is trying to fill his bus prior to return to Jerusalem. Remember where you are and how much the return fare is (₪37.50), then bargain accordingly.

Misc:

1. Make sure you take a newspaper with you (preferably in Hebrew), so you can have your photo taken reading it while floating

2. While many claim the Dead Sea is too warm to bath for long periods of time, when I was there in December is was quite temperate (I could have stayed their all day). 

3. This will be a long day, so if I could do it again I would either:

a. Visit Masada and the Dead Sea on two separate days, so I could spend more time at each.

b. Stay at one of the hotels at the Dead Sea for a two or three days.

c. Stay at a kibbutz nearby the Dead Sea for two or three days.

3. Required Reading and Watching: The Siege of Masada: The History and Legacy of the Battle that Ended the First Jewish–Roman War and Masada - The Complete Epic Mini-Series and of course The Bible.

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¹The Dead Sea is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and Palestine to the west. Its surface is 430 meters below sea level – the lowest place on Earth. With a salinity of 342 g/kg, or 34.2%, (in 2011), it is 9.6x as salty as the ocean. This salinity makes for an environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea is 50 km long and 15 km wide. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.

²Egged Israel Transport Cooperative Society Ltd is a cooperative owned by its members and is the largest transit bus company in Israel. Egged's intercity bus routes reach most Israeli cities, towns, kibbutzim and moshavim. It also operates in Poland and the Netherlands through a subsidiary. Egged provides about 55% of Israel's public transport services, employs 6,227 workers and operates a fleet of 2,861 buses (including 57 armored buses)

³Formed when underground salt is dissolved by freshwater intrusion, due to continuing sea level drop.

⁴Goldstar is an Israeli brand of 4.9% lager brewed by Tempo in Netanya. It is marketed as a dark lager beer, though it is amber in appearance. Certified kosher, it is currently the top-selling beer in Israel.

⁵Lot was a patriarch in the biblical Book of Genesis chapters 11–14 and 19. Notable events in his life include his journey with his uncle Abraham and his flight from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, during which Lot's wife became a pillar of salt, and when he was seduced by his daughters so that they could bear children.

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