The Ultimate Dead Sea Travel Guide

The Ultimate Dead Sea Travel Guide

Tips for the Dead Sea in Jordan… a cool & crazy experience!

 

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I drank in the blue tones –

the undulating cerulean waters

indigo blue sky

painted me all blue

as I floated

on the Dead Sea waters,

dreamily; aimlessly!

 

On experiencing the Dead Sea in Jordan: During our visit to Jordan in the Middle East, Vikram and I were able to visit some of the most popular tourist spots beginning with the capital city of Amman, followed by Mount Nebo, where Moses was given a view of the Promised Land of Canaan ~ pilgrims can get to see the Dead Sea, Jordan River Valley, Jericho, and Bethlehem from the top on a clear day. And later on a visit to the city of Madaba which was followed by sightseeing trips to Jerash, Petra, and Wadi Rum.

Straight from spending a couple of unforgettable days and nights in Sun City Camp at Wadi Rum soaking in the mysteries and expansiveness of the desert, we headed to another unforgettable experience; a float in The Dead Sea ~ a mineral laden body of water, and the lowest spot on earth {423 metres below sea level} renowned for its healing and rejuvenating properties.

On being taken by surprise by the sea factor: I was surprised to know the name has nothing to do with Dead Sea because it isn’t a ‘sea’ at all. The Dead Sea is in fact a landlocked salt lake between Jordan and Israel, with a befitting Hebrew name ‘Yam Hamelakh’ which translates to ‘Sea of Salt’. And being one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, about 34 per cent, is what accounts for a virtually non-existent aquatic life, as well as what gives it a natural buoyancy making floating easy.

 

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Historical facts surrounding the Dead Sea: The real fascination the Dead Sea holds is in its story. It is believed that the Dead Sea was formed three million years ago, with many historians believing it was the Queen of Sheba who discovered its magical healing properties. It has also been mentioned that Cleopatra travelled all the away from Egypt to build a spa near the place.

The rare minerals found in the mud and water give it special therapeutic properties and we were told that the balms from the Dead Sea were used for Egyptian mummification; and are used in industrial, medicinal, and cosmetic products in the present day.

Best time to visit: The Dead Sea can be visited any time of the year but I would recommend March to May or late September to November when the temperatures are cool and moderate. Winter months see a drop in temperature in the evenings, and this is also the time when there is rainfall but the showers are short. You may plan your visit accordingly either as part of a tour, or you may choose to explore the area on your own.

 

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On choosing the right place to stay: As we drove down the highway, which follows the entire length of the Dead Sea, the splendid blend of the water and desert landscapes took my breath away!

The Dead Sea houses some of the most luxurious resorts along its coast, and your choices are only five-star if you are planning an overnight {or longer} stay, with each property having their own spa and private stretch of beach. If you ask me, it is worth splurging as this is a once in a lifetime experience for most travellers. We chose to spend the next two nights at the Movenpick Dead Sea Hotel and Spa, an Arabian-style resort with swimming pools and well manicured gardens. I was blown away by our suite, and the view from our balcony was incredible!

 

You would need to visit one of the beaches if you want to take a dip in the Dead Sea waters, and if you are not willing to splurge then the next best option would be a public access beach like Amman Tourist Beach which is just south of the main hotel area. You get a day’s entry for JD20 {around $19}. Most of the public beaches have basic facilities, and are equipped with parking, changing rooms, and showers. I think it is a good way to mix with the locals and try the waters on a budget.

Also not too expensive and worth a visit is the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex which is on a steep cliff above the waters. It gives some interesting information about the archaeology, ecology {animal and plant}, geology, industry, and history of the Dead Sea and its surrounding area. The view from top of the cliff is incredible and the extensive stretch of water is a soothing sight.

 

 

On being enchanted by the magical properties of the Dead Sea: The water was warm when we got into it, and it was an incredible experience floating on the salty waters ~ watching the blue sky without any interruptions. But what was really striking was the silence; there is no aquatic life, no cooing of birds, and no critters. It is as if life is always on pause-mode in this part of the world.

We tried walking into the water, but no matter how much we tried we were pushed to the top. It is this ‘floating phenomenon’ that lures tourists to the place. The energy of the water and the surrounding beach made Vikram and I feel as if we were in a place that was nothing less than whimsy!

On the skin toning and beautifying mud: It is said that the Dead Sea mud has around 25 minerals, and each one of them are said to have different healing properties. The mud stains your clothes so make sure you either wear an old swimsuit or a black one. I wore my darkest one-piece so that the stains wouldn’t show {5-star hotels in Jordan are a bit more liberal and you can be a little less covered up}. Oh, and our resort had what I would call ‘pool boys’ who were always around to lend a helping hand like offering a towel or a chair or water and a little container of mud to dig into.

 

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The enigma called Dead Sea: Silence can be unnerving at times and the first thing Vikram and I noticed was the unignorable silence that enveloped the place. There was no sign of life anywhere around the water; no trees, no aquatic life ~ the place was stark, bleak, and desolate. A sense of isolation hung in the air. The only reminder about the place being inhabited was the tinkling sounds of laughter from far where people had gathered to float on the Dead Sea and soak in its healing properties.

Vikram and I had our plan chalked out: it was a spot further down the shore ~ a small patch filled with mud that a local had pointed out to us and we could see the water glistening under the afternoon sun. The crystal clear water also reflected the salt covering the rocks in the water, and we noticed salt crystals crumbling off the rocks on the shore as we were walking.

The temptation to run into the water was very high and I couldn’t wait to get a feel of the healing waters. The water was warm, around 72°F (22 °C), and we were informed that the temperature of the water remains the same all year through. The water also felt oily because of the high salt content but then what we noticed was that it did not leave a coating on our body. As we walked further into the azure water, we could feel being lifted up slowly, and then before we knew it, we were both floating!

It felt bizarre that we couldn’t stand on the ground, and as hard as I tried, my feet wouldn’t touch it! The feeling was unique, fascinating, and certainly one-of-a-kind. The Dead Sea is 1,401 feet (427m) below sea level which makes it the lowest place on earth ~ the ambiance and the silence makes it one of the most amazing destinations I have ever laid foot on!

Later we spread mud all over our body, and after letting it dry we washed it off {it is said these deposits of black mud are rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium that come directly from the sea bed}. It was like stepping out of a spa; refreshed and rejuvenated, and my skin felt supple and was glowing. The high mineral content in the water and mud is said to cure diseases like psoriasis, chronic skin conditions, respiratory issues, and joint problems. There are many who come to the Dead Sea on health trips seeking alternative cures and therapy.

 

After bidding adieu to the sea and our floating session, we went up to watch the sunset. It was breathtaking ~ watching the hued skeins of sunrays colouring the blue sky in shades of pinks, blues, and mauves we said our goodbyes to another day.

The finale to our evening was a sumptuous barbeque dinner where we were treated to an array of Middle Eastern dishes as a live band and belly dancer enthralled us with their songs and rhythmic movements. As we relaxed, I thought there couldn’t have been a better way to put the curtains down on our salty, floating, and magical muddy experience at the Dead Sea!

 

How to enjoy your visit safely: Here a few dos and don’ts that will be helpful when visiting the Dead Sea.

BEFORE floating in the Dead Sea

* Shave at least two days prior to your visit to the Dead Sea or do not shave because the high level of salt content in the water will cause your skin to sting. In case you have any wounds make sure they are covered up properly using water proof bandages before entering the water.

* Being the lowest point on Earth, the danger of getting sunburn is lower, but I would still recommend applying a low SPF sunscreen if your trip is during summer because the sun can be harsh.

* It might be enjoyable to many to feel the tingling sensation of the salt crystals under their feet but I would advise you to wear your shoes even in the water. There are muddy pockets underneath, and the salt crystallizes into jagged formations which might hurt your feet while trying to walk in the water ~ especially if you have sensitive feet. So do not forget to pack your flip flops or beach shoes to protect your feet.

 

WHILE floating in the Dead Sea

* There is no swimming in the Dead Sea waters, you just float. The sensation is weird! You can feel yourself being lifted up as you move to the deep. Vikram and I just got in the water, walked till we could squat, and gently ‘lay’ on it ~ we enjoyed floating languidly in the aquamarine waters.

* If you like to splash in the water or if you have kids who love splashing around it might not be a good thing to do because it stings to have the water get in your eyes. Also do not get your head into the water or in simple terms it is not advisable to dive. Using goggles or sunglasses can be helpful.

* The water is way too salty and can be unpleasant if it gets ingested. I would advise you to close your mouth so that that water does not get in, but if you do get water on your face/in your mouth, do not try to wipe it off with your wet hand, you’d only make it worse. Just get out and shower.

* It is not advisable to stay for too long in the water because your body might have telltale signs of the sting and burn from the water. 10 – 15 minutes will be enough to enjoy floating in the Dead Sea waters.

 

What to do AFTER floating in the Dead Sea

* Have a shower once you get out of the water. You can always go back to the sea for another floating experience but it is advisable to takes showers in between to protect your skin, and prevent the salty water from causing irritation to your skin.

* Cover yourself in the mineral mud and get dirty. After our 10 minute float in the water, we got out of the water and applied the mud. You can detoxify, exfoliate, and tone your skin using it and watch your skin become especially smooth for a few days following your Dead Sea fun!

 

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End note: Floating in the Dead Sea is a truly unique and special experience, and Vikram and I enjoyed every moment of our time there. If you are intrigued by this, and think you might like to visit, then follow the tips in this guide to ensure you make the most of your time there.

 

* Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the Jordan Tourism Board. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review.

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

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