Hiking Israel: Masada
Israel packs deserts, mountains, volcanoes, canyons and seas into an area the size of New Jersey, which makes for some pretty spectacular hiking. And the country's most popular route is the trip up Masada, the isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert.
One of the most important sites in ancient Jewish history, the barren desert mesa is the site where a band of Jewish rebels made their last stand against Roman warriors in the first century AD. The 2,000-year-old ruins at the top of the plateau are the main draw for history and religion buffs, while the 1,800-foot climb and view overlooking the Dead Sea attract a wide array of tourists.
The problem with visiting this mountain in the middle of the desert, of course, is the intensity of the sun, which is why many summertime visitors choose to hike up before dawn, catching the sunrise and beating the heat. If that still sounds like too much, there's always the cable car to the top.