Judean Desert (Arad to Ein Gedi via Masada) – 4 to 6 days Inn to Inn Trek

This is a challenging and very rewarding true Desert Trek. Secluded desert paths, Deep Dramatic Canyons, Desert Springs, Amazing views of Masada, and the Dead sea. All of this combined with our “user-friendly” Inn to Inn program.

Overview Map

Judean desert Inn to Inn hiking trek map

Click Map to Enlarge

A very “natural” Inn to Inn program with almost no vehicle transfers. (Two 5 minutes drives on the 3rd & 5th day!). During the trek, you will visit two very well known spots. Masada and Ein Gedi. However, you will visit them in a unique way. Avoiding the crowds and boosting the experience to a much higher level. Most of the trails are secluded, and you are likely to meet only a handful of hikers during this 4-6 days hike. The last evening is at the Ein Gedi hotel and SPA. A great place to treat yourself after several tough days in the outdoors.
The best time of year for this trek are the winter months December-March. With mostly pleasant temperatures and still a low chance for rain. In November and April, it is still possible to hike, but with a higher risk of “suffering” hot weather.
Pay attention to the weather forecast regarding the risk of flash floods. In case of such a threat, we will guide you with the necessary changes in the route to stay safe.
Are you a Single Hiker?
The standard price with full service is very expensive for single hikers. The reason is that many costs are not split, and many of our standard selected accommodations charge from a single in a room almost the same price for a couple.

We have a solution for you if you are willing to reduce the service level:

  • Settle for a phone briefing instead of a face to face briefing.
  • Sleep in dorms instead of Hotels/private rooms:
    Arad: Desert Bird guesthouse
    Masada: Masada Hostel
    Ein Gedi: Ein Gedi Hostel
  • Hitchhike instead taking a taxi from Arad to Tzeelim trailhead.

This option is offered for the four days version only.

Select a “LowCost”  Trek from the Treks list in the price calculator to get the budget price

Day by Day Itinerary

Day 0 –  Arad

  • We will meet in the afternoon/evening for a detailed briefing meeting to discuss all aspects of the trek, provide you with maps, and make sure that the GPS app function properly.
  • Preferred Lodging: Inbar Hotel, Arad
  • The next morning a taxi will take you to the trailhead.

Day 1 – Wadi Kanfan

  • Wadi Kanfan
    Wadi Kanfan


  • Distance: 16.5 Km (7-8 Hours) / Climb: 550 m
  • Starting Point: Wadi Kanfan
  • End Point: Arad
  • Overnight: Arad
  • Preferred Lodging: Inbar Hotel, Arad
  • Our accommodation is in the pleasant desert town Arad.
  • A short taxi ride will take us to the trailhead near Wadi Heimar.
  • Most of our path today is along the INT (Israel National Trail), In Wadi Heimar, and then in Wadi Kanfan.
  • Wadi Kanfan is less famous than other paths in the area. Therefore you should be expecting a quiet day with very few travelers and an authentic desert atmosphere.
  • A few kilometers before Arad, you will leave the INT and take the Green marked dirt road into Arad and arrive on foot back to the same hotel.

Day 2 – The 4 Cisterns Trail and Rahaf Canyon

  • 4 Cisterns Wadi near Arad
    the "4 Cistern" Wadi


  • Distance: 12.5Km (5-6 Hours) / Climb: 200 m
  • Starting Point: Arad
  • End Point: Nokdim Village
  • Overnight: Nokdim Village
  • Preferred Lodging: Kfar Hanokdim
  • We start by walking to the Southern edge of Arad, where the “4 Cisterns wadi” begins.
  • The short 2 Kilometers wadi is famous for the concentration of several cisterns that had been dug to collect precious rainwater in ancient times.
  • At about midway, our route intersects and then follows for about 2 Km the minor road #3199.
  • We leave the road to its south side and enter the exciting Upper Rahaf canyon.
  • After a short but exciting section in this typical desert canyon, we reach the Nokdim village desert inn where we will spend the night.

Day 3 – The Grand Zeelim Canyon

  • A view down to Zeelim canyon from the top of the Naama trail
    Zeelim Canyon from Above


  • Distance: 16.5 Km (7-9 Hours) / Climb: 300 m
  • Starting Point:  Road #3199
  • End Point: Masada
  • Overnight: Masada
  • Preferred Lodging: Masada Hostel
  • A very exciting day is ahead of us! We start with a short car shuttle to our trail-head.
  • After a few easy warm-up kilometers, we reach the cliff-top of the mighty Zeelim Canyon. It is one of the biggest and most beautiful canyons in the Judean desert. A good stop for a short break before we descend into the gorge.
  • The descend is via an ancient desert footpath. At the bottom, we arrive at the Naama pool. The depth of the water can be 1-2 meters depending on the rainfall in previous weeks.
  • The walk down the canyon between the tall walls is a great experience. After about 2 Kilometers, we reach Ein Namer (The “Leopard” spring). Another attraction that calls for a break.
  • The name reminds us that in the past, this rare water source was used by the local desert leopards that once inhabited the Judean desert. They are now nearly extinct. (Recent studies claim that there are 1-2 leopards still living in the Judean desert)
  • The next section is called the “Shiny valley”. It is a deep narrow gorge made of shiny white rocks.
  • It is an exciting section that involves crossing pools, getting wet, and negotiating a few dry waterfalls. (Bring extra dry shoes and cloth)
  • If this genre is not for you, you can easily bypass it with a trail that follows above the gorge.
  • We then leave the canyon on another ancient path and make our way to the base of Masada and our accommodation, the Masada Hostel.

Day 4 -Meet Masada in an unexpected and unique way!

  • Light and Shade around Masada


  • Distance: 8-10 Km (3-6 Hours) / Climb: 350 m.
  • Starting Point: Masada.
  • End Point: Masada.
  • Overnight: Masada.
  • Preferred Lodging Masada Hostel.
  • An amazing hike! We circle around Masada on the mountains surrounding it and get unique views from different angles on this legendary fortress.
  • Plus, we have the option to visit Masada in the middle of the hike.
  • For full details, check our Masada Hike page.

Day 5 – Mishmar Canyon

  • climbing ladders in mishmar canyon
    The narrow gorge section


  • Distance: 20 Km (9-11 Hours) / Climb: 800 m
  • Short alternative: A round trip in Wadi Mishmar (12 Km / Climb 350 m – Extra charge 350 NIS)
  • Starting Point: Wadi Mishmar
  • End Point: Kibbutz Ein Gedi
  • Overnight: Kibbutz Ein Gedi
  • Preferred Lodging: Ein Gedi Hotel


  • A short taxi ride will take us a few kilometers north to the entrance to wadi Mishmar.
  • Another grand Judean desert canyon. An exciting and challenging hike up the narrow gorge will bring us to a dry horseshoe waterfall and another desert spring, Ein Mishmar.
  • It is an exciting section that involves crossing pools, getting wet, and climbing a few metal ladders. (Bring extra dry shoes and cloth)
  • If this genre is not for you, you can easily bypass it with a trail that follows above the gorge.
  • An excellent spot for an extended break.
  • From here, we have two choices:
  • The more extended version climbs steeply to the north side of the canyon and follows the desert plateau and down to Kibbutz Ein Gedi, reaching our accommodation on foot. (Total of 20 km).
  • If this is too much for you, return along the trails that go above the canyon back to the starting point. And from there, with a taxi shuttle, a 10 minutes drive to the accommodation. (Extra charge 350 NIS)

Day 6 – Ein Gedi Reserve – The grand circuit

  • the hidden waterfall in arugot stream
    The "Hidden" waterfall


  • Distance: 7.5 Km (3-4 Hours)
  • Climb: 500
  • Start / End Point: Kibbutz Ein Gedi


  • A delightful dessert to end a great trek with a hike in the famous Ein Gedi natural reserve.
  • 95% of the visitors to the reserve will walk up and down the Arugot or David stream and settle with that.
  • We will, of course, take a different approach and make a real desert hike.
  • Starting with a tough ascend on the ancient and beautifully built Ein Gedi pass. Enjoy great views on the Dead sea from high above and finish for dessert with the gushing water of the Arugot stream.
  • Don’t forget your bathing suit and enjoy a swim at the pool beneath the hidden waterfall!

It a relatively short day, and you can use the extra time to enjoy some other activities in and around Ein Gedi.