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The Dead Sea is like nowhere else we’ve been. And after years of permanent travel that’s something that’s getting harder to say.
In a barren landscape of brown and beige craggy mountains the deep blue lake has an otherworldly effect, the ultra calm water shimmering as sunlight hits the surface.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth at 400m below sea level. The water is land-locked so with nowhere else to go the water evaporates leaving a dense mix of salt and minerals that is devoid of plant and animal life.
Other than the dramatic landscape the attraction for visitors is the strangely buoyant water that is perfect for floating effortlessly. It’s nearly impossible to sink and you can even stand up within it—the dense water keeping you upright.
The buoyancy enables you to do things you wouldn’t usually do in the sea—like reading a newspaper.
It was blissfully relaxing to float in the sea. I’d been ill the day before and even the walk from our seafront hotel room had been an effort, but within the warm water I forgot any stomach pains and it took no energy at all to bob along on the surface, gazing at the desert mountains that seemed so out of place next to the glistening water.
We’d heard that the Dead Sea smelled and that the high salt content—ten times saltier than sea water—would sting your skin, but we didn’t have any problems. It helped that we didn’t have any cuts and that we’d taken everyone’s advice and not shaved beforehand.
As well as floating, a popular activity at the Dead Sea is covering yourself in the soft, mineral-rich mud that’s been known for its health benefits since biblical times. Simon was reluctant to get muddy—it might be the memory of the people at our yoga retreat in Nepal who turned orange after their mud treatment—but he came around and we joined in the fun. Our skin really did feel soft afterwards.
We were at the Dead Sea on the weekend and the pools at the Holiday Inn resort where we stayed were busy with Jordanian families and loud pop music (and some very inappropriate hip hop by the kids pool!), but down on the beach it was fairly quiet with a fun atmosphere as everyone smeared on mud and took silly photos. There was a contrast between Europeans in tiny bikinis and Jordanian women swimming in all their clothes, but it felt relaxed and accepting.
As the sun sets over the Dead Sea you can see the lights of Jerusalem on the other side of the great lake, the fading light softens the landscape, and the water glows orange.
As we left our resort and drove along the Dead Sea Highway we got a sense of the scale of the place. It’s 80km long so we drove for quite some time with red rocky mountains on one side and views from above of the green water and crystallising salt on the other.
The Dead Sea is a magical place and definitely worth visiting when in Jordan for a unique and relaxing experience.
A big thank you to Visit Jordan who hosted us during our stay in Jordan.