Mar Saba and Mount Azazel under the full moon

Ethno-track to Mar Saba at full moon

Did you think that you could go to Mar Saba only in the winter? Think again. To this blessed place one can and should come back.

This time, I invite you to a unique journey – the Mar Saba in the light of the full moon. During the night between Friday and Saturday (June 21-22) we will learn the secrets of the seclusion of the Holy City desert, see a line of Jerusalem at the burning horizon, will rise to the highest point of the Judean Desert Mount Muntar, and meet the sunrise looking at the most beautiful monastery on the Middle East. We also will be the first morning visitors of Mar Saba and will say “good morning” to the monks.

Even if you’ve already been to Mar Saba, you absolutely have not been there at full moon and greeted the dawn with the most beautiful view of the Judean Desert!

150 per person
0 – for kids under 15

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Have you ever been flogged for eating apples? Have anyone brought to your feet in a silver casket the relics of one of the most famous and the great hermit monks? Have you fallen at least once in your life in a bubbling stream of the gutter? Have you heard anything about talking donkeys and mysterious bottom cells, where you only go with a candle? Do you know where the scapegoat was taken and from where the image of Satan appeared in Judaism? If the answers to any of these questions are ‘no’, you simply have to visit one of the most difficult to reach, and certainly the most beautiful monastery in the Judean desert – Mar Saba – and climb the mountain Azazel (a.k.a Muntar).

So, on the night between Friday and Saturday, June 21-22, we will hike along the spectacular route through the Judean desert, will ascent the highest mountain in the Judean desert, where we will prove the triumph of mind over matter – the mountain of Azazel and will go to the laurel of Sabbas the Sanctified . This hike is unique, as it will happen with the light of a full moon.

We will start our journey from the settlement of Kedar (South) and head to the mount Muntar. The bright hills of the Judean Desert will reflect the light of the moon, and all the landscapes will appear to us in a different light. After getting up the mountain Muntar we will continue our journey and arrive at the panorama of the monastery of Mar Saba, where we will stay for the night. Within few hours we will be woken up by the first rays of the sun, and we will meet the most romantic sunrise of your life – in front of a pearl of seclusion of the Judean Desert.

I think this is a great opportunity for many photographers who wanted to take pictures of Mar Saba at dawn, so join us!

All night only a lonely little lamp lights up our monastery and all the valley of Kidron, but with the dawn of Mar Saba begins to wake up. Before our eyes, in the life of monastery will seethe, and we will begin the crossing over the stream of Kidron.
Early in the morning, men will be able to visit the monastery where, according to tradition, a local monk invites them inside for a short toure, while I will entertain women outside with the monastery legends.

At night we will have plenty of time for conversations about the monastic life, the birth of a recluse movement, the charter of the monastery , talking donkeys, as well as other experiments.

Our program:

  • night hike through the Judean Desert (about 20 kilometers both ways) at the full moon
  • meeting sunrise overlooking the monastery of Mar Saba
  • visit to Mar Saba*
  • night climb to Mount Azazel (Mount Muntar), from which, according to tradition, the unfortunate scapegoat was thrown
  • fantastic views for photographers shooting in a very rare shooting time (!)
  • long conversations about the hermits and other cool things about the life in the desert (we will have enough time for this), and local stories
  • coffee/tea
  • kissing the relics at the request of the participants

  • Entrance to the monastery for women is strictly forbidden, only men are allowed in. Women waiting outside will have fun conversations with the monks, listen to the Mar-Saba CDs, read the local self-published literature, climb to cells, inspect the monastery from the top, bottom, side, wherever. In short, women will not feel deprived.
  • starting of a circular route from the settlement of Kedar South (we will park cars there at the secure lot)
  • length of the route – 20 km
  • all participants must be in decent physical shape!
  • approach to the monastery is located in the territories of C and B, and are totally OK to be visited by Israelis
  • For people that have no car, I will try to find a ride (you will need to share gas costs with a driver)
  • Meeting point: Kedar South settlement. If the security guards are as gracious as usual, we will park the cars inside the settlement. In the worst case, right next to the settlement gates outside. Yes, it is safe for your cars.
  • Meeting time: 21:00 pm, Friday, June 21
  • Completion of the program: about 11 am, on Saturday, June 22.
What you need
  • Food for snacking during the hike
  • Water: at least 4 liters per person. Required!
  • Sunscreen and a hat. Required.
  • Men and women will need modest clothing – long pants, long sleeves – to visit the monastery. You can use any spare shirt or a sweater that you can take off later.
  • Comfortable shoes, band-aid in the case if you rub your feet.
  • If you wish, feel free to take alpenstocks (walking sticks).

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