Being independent travelers in Israel wasn’t as easy as we thought, mainly because of the limited public transportation outside of the main routes and during the weekend (from Friday afternoon to Saturday night) and lack of budget accommodation. Once we wanted to travel beyond the big cites, we found it harder than expected and we ended up renting a car, trying to camp and self cater.
Our first destination was Ramon Crater where we camped in “Ramon Crater – Beerot Khan” for 16 shekels each in a nice place with fridge, tables, toilets and showers. Next one, it was “Campsite Masada West”, a little more expensive (56 shekels per person including the entrance fee to Masada) but equally well equipped.
Finding a place in the Dead Sea was not so easy. After hours of online searching, we just started driving, hoping for the best. We didn’t find any reliable information on the internet and everyone we asked gave us a different advice. At the end, we found a couple of options:
Free camping on the parking lot near to the public beach, northern part of Ein Bokek
You won’t find any facilities on the parking lot but there are some toilets and showers on the beach. No electricity and, of course, no fridge. It’s important not to leave any valuables inside the tent while you are out. On the good side, you are close to restaurants and supermarkets, so it’s easy to have everything on hand in walking distance.
Ein Gedi Camp Lodge
Just before the entrance to the Kibutz they offer camping for 60 shekels per person. There you can find cooking facilities, fridge, toilets, showers and some common space in their restaurant/bar where they also serve pizzas and beverages. This is the option we chose and it was a good location to explore the area. They also have dorms but it’s necessary book in advance, specially for the weekend (Friday night is usually fully booked).
The public campground in Ein Gedi Beach is closed due to sink holes.
Activities around the Dead Sea
Hiking Ein Gedi Natural Park
There are some tracks that you can combine to walk between half an hour or full day. Entrance fee is 28 per person and they give you an illustrative map with the trails. All of them are well marked so you can design your way. We did Wadi Arugot –> B’nei Hamoshavim Ascent –> En Gedi Lookout –> En Gedi Ascent –> Wadi David. The estimated time is 8 hours but we did it in 4.
Floating in the Dead Sea
Due to sink holes, it’s only possible to do it in approved areas, the best option we saw is the public beach in Ein Bokek (free). It’s advisable not to wear jewelry and to avoid going in the water if you have any open wound or even scratches.
The east entrance is 20 minutes from Ein Gedi and you can go up by cable car or hiking the snake path. It’s popular to watch the sunrise from the mountain so the gate is open one hour before it, but cable car stars at 8 am. Reserve between one and two hours to explore the area.
Ein Gedi Spa is also a popular destination in the area but we didn’t try it. Since we had a car it was easy for us to move from one place to another, but it’s also possible to take the public bus that runs every two hours either way.
The Dead Sea is a nice destination and for us was interesting to visit a place so different from our own country. It was not easy, but at the end we think it worth it and we definitely recommend it to independent travelers.