Our visit to Israel wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t make stop at the Dead Sea. This fascinating natural feat is something we couldn’t let slip off our hands.
As we didn’t have much time left in our busy schedule in Israel due to the TBEX (our first Travel Blogging Conference!!!), we had to find a way to fit a visit to the Dead Sea it the little time left we had.
We also wanted to break free from tours as we enjoy the freedom of spending as much time as we want in a destination if we feel like it. Also, we found that renting a car for 2 full days would be cheaper than taking a tour for the 2 of us (for just 1 day). Obviously, the option of driving around has its pros and cons but we didn’t mind driving around nor the lack of a guide (which sometimes can be quite important).
So here’s what we did:
First, we rented a car in Tel Aviv and drove all the way to West Bank (that’s a whole different story, which you can read here) and came back to sleep in Jerusalem. The next day, early in the morning, we started our drive on the way down to the Dead Sea. We spent the day there and drove back to Tel Aviv to give back the car at the airport and catch our flight.
Road Trip to the Dead Sea
Driving around in Israel is not an easy feat. Drivers can sometimes be a bit crazy and no sign of indicator use was to be found. Also, the traffic lights all have a honking system. Jokes aside, as I (Larissa) was the one driving, I can firmly say that I didn’t find it difficult to drive there, but sometimes just a little stressful.
After we left the city area of Jerusalem, driving was a breeze and the roads were a perfect carpet of sealed asphalt, bathed in sun and surrounded by what can only be described as an alien-like scenery. The rocks and desert emerging in front of us was one of the most beautiful distractions I’ve ever had to witness while driving.
On the way down, we could see various signs indicating us towards the Dead Sea, and the sea level signs going downwards too! Unfortunately, we didn’t stop at the classic sign indicating we were -420 metres down…but we’ve got this:
Just driving down the Judean Desert was an amazing opportunity. The scenery is like no other and we definitely took the chance to take plenty of photos. We have never ever seen anything like it in Australia or Brazil, or any other country we had visited so far!
We drove straight to the Ein Gedi Spa Resort as we knew we would want to have a shower after spending some hours in the salty water of the Dead Sea and its therapeutic mud. There, we decided to get a package which included the use of the showers, rent of towels plus a coffee and lunch. On this package we also got a mud-based soap and hand cream for free.
The Dead Sea
We were beyond excited to finally float on the famous waters of the Dead Sea. Once we got changed and locked up our stuff in the provided lockers, we headed down to the outside area to wait for the shuttle to take us down to the private beach. That’s right…it’s a long way down from the resort to the actual beach, well, more like 15-20 minutes walking but we just thought it’d be nice to get going as quick as we could!
The Dead Sea as we know today, may actually not be the same our kids one day (hopefully) will see. When the resort opened in the late 1980’s the water would come up closer to the walls of the building, today, we had to take a shuttle! True story peeps.
Fun Fact: the Dead Sea is actually not the saltiest body of water in the world. This title is held by the Don Juan Pond, Antartica. The Dead Sea is the lowest hyper saline lake in the world, with 32% salinity (or 9.6 times higher than the ocean).
We jumped off the shuttle and were quick to examine the odd, alien-like scenery we saw in front of us. On the horizon, Jordan is overlooking the sea. The area where we should find sand is a weird and hard salty surface. You can see globs of hardened salt crystals poking out on the shore.
Then, it was time we dip our toes in the water and it was amazingly strange. As I read someone describe it, the water texture is somewhat similar to olive oil instead of water. The dense salinity of it makes it all look quite different from a beach.
We struggle to get in as it is cold but we do it anyways (as anyone would) just to see how would be the feeling of floating…and you guessed it: it’s amazing! We just laid in the water and with any sort of resistance our bodies were pushed upwards. What is even more odd was the struggle to go down and stand back up.
We played a little more and made fun of each other trying to get out of our comfortable laying positions. But after a while, it was time for a mud bath! For this one, you have the option to lather up in fresh mud from the side of the beach or to go back to the resort area where a mud tub was ready for you to dunk your hands and spread the mud all over!
You can then, wait for it to harden up and let it work its magic and rinse it off in the salty water at the Sea or use the sulphured water showers which apparently are great for your skin too. The health benefits of the mud and the Dead Sea are famous and fuel a highly active industry in the region which claims beautiful and rejuvenated skin.
We can’t deny that…
After a long time pampering up, we had our lunch at the Resort’s restaurant. If you don’t eat much, we highly recommend you share 1 meal as the portions were quite generous and you have a serving of bread, entrée, drink and dessert. On the way back, a coffee to keep us awake and we were ready to face another 2 hours drive to Tel Aviv.
Have you been to the Dead Sea? What was your favourite part of the trip? And would you venture going on your own? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!
Larissa & Jean,