First of all I would like to say that the Dead Sea is an amazing place to visit. I went there in the middle of this year’s summer heatwave and believe me, I’ve never been so hot in my life. The temperature was a mild 48 degrees centigrade, and what better way to cool down from this ungodly heat then to take a dip. Oh how wrong I was!
If you’ve never experienced the Dead Sea before, then you are probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about. I presumed the water would be nice and cool, just like the sea. However, I left my sandals and bag about 10 meters away, proceeded to walk down to the sea whilst scolding the bottom of my feet on the hot sand, and as soon as my toes entered the water I immediately pulled them back out again. The water was even hotter than the air temperature and it came as a huge shock to me. But hey, I’m in Israel right? When am I ever going to get to do this again? So I braved the impending hell I was about to face and dived right in.
This wasn’t the last of the many surprises that were in store for me throughout the day… I knew that the water had a high salt content and I would float very easily, but I didn’t expect the water to be so thick. It was like swimming in watered down syrup. Once you reach a point where your feet no longer touch the ground, they just fall from under you in a spectacular fashion and you just float right on top of the water. It’s a strange experience, and I can now see why there are so many photos of people reading books and newspapers in this position. I didn’t adopt this pose for any photos though.. I thought it was a bit cheesy (plus I forgot to bring a book) but I did fall into the tourist trap and bought some Dead Sea mud to smother myself with. My skin was as smooth as a babies bottom.
We only stayed for about an 40 mins due to the raging Sun above us, and for the fact that I actually climbed a mountain before my visit.. yes that’s right! In the midst of a heatwave and at the lowest point on the Earth, I decided to climb a mountain! This story in itself deserves its own post, which I will write shortly. It is located in the En Gedi Nature Reserve, and not a mountain in a typical sense, but a 600 meter ascent up a canyon.
After our visit to the Dead Sea (and looking slightly more youthful) we started to get a little hungry and decided to take an unplanned trip to Jericho in Palestine. Unfortunately it began to get dark while we were eating some beautiful Arabic food, and by the time we had finished, we couldn’t go and visit the Walls of Jericho (a place that I will go on my next visit), so we set off back to Iksal.
The journey back was just as eventful as the journey there. On our way to the Dead Sea we drove through Palestine. Our coach came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the desert and our driver started shouting out the window. To our relief, he was shouting over a man who had a camel. It turns out that he was bartering a price for us to ride it. We all got very excited, I mean it’s not everyday you get to ride a camel in the middle of Palestine. We all clambered out the coach and proceeded to pay the man 15 shekels (about £2.50). I’ve never rode a camel before and I was very excited to do so, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.
On the way back we had to pass through the boarder out of Palestine and into Israel. There was no boarder security on our way in, so I was very surprised when a group of highly armed men stopped our coach and proceeded to board. Everything was okay though. They checked our passports and asked our guide a few questions and we were on our way.
Overall it was one of the most eventful days I had whilst I was in Israel. I would highly recommend a trip to the Dead Sea. That in itself without all the extra things I did was spectacular, and if you are on the Israeli side and have time, visit the En Gedi Nature Reserve. You won’t be disappointed.