Masada: The Hike Down on the Never Ending Snake Path

After witnessing the most magical sunrise atop Masada, it was time for our final descent down the mountain to the desert floor.  All things that go up, must go back down (unless you’re planning on living there indefinitely… which I was not).

I had heard about this so-called treacherous 2.5 mile “Snake Path” from friends who had done this hike previously.  They warned me in that it was rather difficult.. and some other probably valid suggestions.  I should have paid more attention because that “walk” was definitely not a walk, and definitely not what I had imagined. Especially at 9 in the morning.

Apart from the heat and sun, walking down is actually a lot harder than walking up (from what I’ve been told; I’ve actually never walked up). By the time I reached the bottom, my legs were trembling like jelly. I’ve never experienced this feeling before. The path is long and windy, and just when you think you are done, there is still SO much more…

Although I bitched and moaned basically the entire way down, climbing up and then hiking down Masada on the Snake Path was an experience I surely will never forget.  I’m not sure I was physically ready for this adventure, (especially after my little incident the day before- OHH you haven’t read about the time the donkey collapsed on me?!) , but I definitely was not ready emotionally.

What felt like a treacherous 12 hours was actually only about 45 minutes or so. If I had prepared myself appropriately (maybe with some water and a permanent smile), the experience wouldn’t have been so difficult.

But enough with my complaining. (Your sick of it, right?  I understand if you just wanna dabble at the photos from here on out…)

The views along the path were absolutely insanely gorgeous. At some points during the hike, I had to physically stop in order to take it all in. With the rocky path beneath my feet and the expanse of they mountain ahead and all around me, I felt so little. So incredibly tiny. An amazing feeling once you forget about all the steps you still need to reach the bottom!

Finally reaching the bottom of the mountain was an incredible experience that I’m having a hard time putting into words. It was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I felt like I had just crossed the finish line of some important race.

And then I splurged and bought a Gatorade at the over-priced stand at the foot of Masada. It’s the little things in life, right? I did a little not-embarrassing-at-all victory dance and then planted my bottom on a nearby bench and didn’t move until I was forced to :)

Besides the most dramatic sunset I have ever seen, along with unforgettable views of the Dead Sea and the mountain itself, it was my new friends on Birthright who made the whole experience really what it came out to be. I’m even attending a friends wedding this coming summer!

A few suggestions on tackling the Snake Path:

  • If possible, head out before sunrise.  Leave Jerusalem around 3:30am in order to get to the top of Masada to witness a beautiful and rewarding sunrise.  It’s worth it to wake up that early- trust me.  Or you can spend the night at the foot of the mountain (hostel) and avoid the excessive heat.
  • Bring a lot of liquids (preferably water) to sip on during the hike.  It gets extremely hot in the summer months, and the chance of passing out/collapsing is definitely a possibility.
  • If you are moderately fit and don’t stress you should be fine.  Be prepared though, there are many parts of the path with no side rail, so be extra careful and make sure you aren’t feeling dizzy at all.
some parts of the hike have a rail – others do not
  • Hike up/down the mountain with others- don’t attempt to trek alone.  There are no guides anywhere on the mountain to help, so it is basically you and your party alone.
  • FINALLY: DO NOT TAKE THE CABLE CAR!  As noted earlier, if you are physically fit and in a good state of mind, you will be thrilled with yourself after completing the snake path.  Don’t take the easy way out if you are able to accomplish this task.  However, if you are on a group tour, you may not have a choice in this.  Views are still impeccable, obviously!

Some final words of advice – slather on a blog glob of sunscreen, carry a large filled water bottle, and be prepared for a long windy trek down.  As long as you know what you’re in for, you’ll be fine.  Just enjoy the views and know that every step is a step closer to the bottom.

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One Comment

  • cubiclethrowdown says:

    Amazing!! Great job on such an accomplishment. I was very happy to read the path name was in regards to the shape and not the inhabitants :)

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