How to Get Up the Masada cliff

Visitors to Masada will find that there are two ways of getting to the cliff-top fortress, either by cable car or by hiking up the Snake Path. If you arrive with an organized tour the cable car fee is included in your tour and you won’t have to worry too much about choosing how to get to the top. However if you are an avid hiker or are keen to experience Masada as the Jewish rebels did thousands of years ago then you can arrange a private tour to include the Snake Path hike.

Historically the Snake Path would have been the first and only access point to the summit making it easy to defend. When the Roman’s sought to oust the Jewish Zealots from their stronghold on Masada’s summit they built ramps on the western side of Masada, after 9 months they managed to reach the summit. Today the Roman ramp path is used to access the mountain by those attending the Masada Sound and Light show. It is possible to walk up the Roman path on the site of the Roman Ramp, the hike is steep yet shorter than the Snake Path and requires a detour if you are coming from the Dead Sea.

Snake Path

Snake path to Masada clifff top …and one of these ways is called the Serpent, as resembling that animal in its narrowness and perpetual winding…” Josephus Flavius (c.37-100)

The Snake Path is 400 meters from the ground up to the top of Masada starting on the eastern side of the cliff and it can take between an hour and 1.5 hours to complete the hike. Of course it takes less time to descend the mountain (about 40 minutes) as the downward route is easier on the legs! The Snake Path was the original way of scaling the mountain and tourists would use it before the cable cars were installed. When the Jewish zealots occupied Masada this would have been their only way up or down. Although the Snake Path may require you to do all the work it doesn’t mean it’s free, people who decide to get up to the top of Masada using the Snake Path need to pay as well. The Snake Path is open from 5:30am where as the cable cars only start running at 8am but due to the heat the Snake Path is usually closed at about 10am.

The Snake Path may seem romantic or that you’ll be retracing the steps of historic figures but the desert heat should not be underestimated. Unless you are very fit you should seriously consider taking the more convenient, faster and easier option – the cable car – which is luckily included in the price of organized tours of Masada.

The Masada Cable Car

Mt. Masada cable car to the topThe Masada cable car (actually an aerial tramway) is the lowest cable car on Earth, it leaves from the base of Masada by the Tourist Center. The original cable car was constructed in 1971 and later replaced in 1998 by a Swiss built aerial tramway system. The two cabin, two track rope and haul rope system is similar to those used in European ski resorts and covers 900 meters. The system which does not require any supporting pillars is extremely safe and reliable. It takes 3 minutes to make the ascent traveling at a maximum of 8 meters per second and the cable cars leave every 15 minutes. This is without a doubt the easiest way to visit Masada, not only do you avoid the exhaustion and sunstroke of climbing the Snake Path but you can enjoy the Travel Center before making your journey to the cliff-top plateau.


mini-DSC_0325 mini-IMG_3688 mini-IMG_3809 Masada fortifications on the site of the cliff A view to the Dead Sea from Masada mini-IMG_3810 mini-IMG_3717 Masada mini-IMG_3683 mini-IMG_3724 mini-IMG_3702 mini-IMG_3813 mini-IMG_3677

Bein Harim Tours LTD, Hanamal St. 36, Tel Aviv, Israel 61131, P.O.B: 13221, Tel: 972-3-5422000 Fax: 972-3-5422001