08:00 - Leave from your Jerusalem Hotel
09:00 - Visit Mount Azazel
10:00 - Views of Mar Saba
12:00 - Lunch
13:30 - Ein Prat (Wadi Qelt) Nature Reserve
15:00 - Return to Jerusalem
* all times are approximate!
- In the unlikely event of rain in the desert, we will go out on a flash-flood tour instead!
- During winter when the springs are too cold, we will hike along them amongst the nature
Leaving Jerusalem in the morning, we drive out in jeeps towards the Dead Sea, leaving the city traffic behind in minutes, and entering the vast expanses of the Judean desert. Our first stop is at Mount Azazel, the sacred hilltop where, according to tradition, every year a scapegoat carrying the sins of the people was cast off a cliff. Carefully, we’ll drive down into the wadi, entering off-road territory inhabited mainly by nomadic Bedouin tribes, and we’ll see their tents and animals. We’ll also visit an ancient water hole, so important for desert farmers, and still in use today.
Our next stop is the Mar Saba monastery, almost a secret for travelers in Israel because of the relative difficulty in arriving at the site. The huge monastery, founded over 1500 years ago, is one of the oldest inhabited monasteries, and definitely one of the most beautiful in the world. The awe-inspiring structure is inhabited by around twenty Greek Orthodox monks, who also meditate in the surrounding rock caves.
Driving on through the incredible desert landscape, we’ll pass Nabi Musa, an ancient structure believed by the Muslims to be the tomb of Moses, and stop for lunch nearby.
The afternoon is dedicated to the beautiful and extraordinary springs at Ein Prat. The cold, clear water at the Ein Prat springs seep out of the rocks and form pools and streams, which are hard to resist at this point in the day. We’ll spend time swimming, relaxing, drinking coffee and eating snacks, before leaving the desert behind and returning to Jerusalem, happy and refreshed.