Dead Sea

Travel Guide Middle East Dead Sea

edit

Introduction

Dead Sea

Dead Sea

© Stefani528

The Dead Sea is a low-lying sea in the border region of Israel and Jordan. The surface and shores are 423 metres below sea level, making it the lowest point on Earth on land. The sea itself drops to 377 metres below the surface and it's the saltiest body of water anywhere on the planet, with about one third salinity.

Top

edit

Geography

The Dead Sea (Hebrew: ים המלח, Hebrew transliteration:Yam HaMelach; Arabic: البحر الميت, Arabic transliteration: al-Bahir al-Mayyit) has its eastern coast in Jordan. The Dead Sea has its western coast in Israel and the West Bank. It is the lowest point in the world at 394.6 metres below sea level. Currently, 25 kilometres of Dead Sea coastline lie within Palestinian Authority territory, including Qumran and Ein Feshka.

The water in the Dead Sea is extremely salty, and has been estimated to be the second saltiest major body of water in the world. Its name is derived from the fact that the water is far too salinated for marine inhabitation.

The Dead Sea is naturally endorheic (no outlet streams) with the Jordan River being its only major source. The northern part of the Dead Sea receives scarcely 100 mm of rain a year; the southern section receives barely 50 mm. Due to the man-made reduction of the Jordan River (the river waters are 70-90% used for human purposes) and the high evaporation rate of the Dead Sea, the sea is shrinking. All the shallow waters of the southern end of the sea have been drained and are now salt flats.

Although the Dead Sea would never entirely disappear (because evaporation slows down as surface area decreases and saltiness increases), measures are currently being proposed to siphon water from the Red Sea through a series of tunnels or canals in order to replenish the rapidly shrinking waters and provide water and electrical solutions to the surrounding countries.

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

Jordan

The hypersalinated water of the Dead Sea itself is its own attraction. There are several nearby attractions that are worth attention:

Jordan

  • Mt. Nebo (Between the Dead Sea and Madaba). This historic site provides a panorama of the Holy Land, and to the north, a more limited one of the Jordan River valley. The excavated remains of a church and a monument commemorating the biblical story of Moses and the bronze serpent stand atop the mountain. Mt. Nebo is a 15-minute drive from the Dead Sea. Visitors can plan to spent less than half an hour at the site. 1 JD.
  • Baptism Site. This site (Bethany Beyond the Jordan) at the Jordan River, the location archaeologists are claiming is the baptism site of Jesus by John the Baptist, is a 10-minute drive from the Dead Sea resort area. Buses transport visitors down to the river basin, and guided tours include visits to a Jordan River overlook, the excavated remains of the Baptismal Site, John the Baptist Church, and down to the River bank. 12 JD.
  • Dead Sea Panoramaic Complex (Dead Sea Museum). This is a new complex of regional museum about the Dead Sea, panorama lookout, restaurant and conference hall on a steep cliff high above the Dead Sea near Hammamet Ma'in. It is accessible from both the Dead Sea and Madaba by car, however it is difficult to reach by public transport. The museum is run by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, and has some fascinating information about the geology, ecology (animal and plant), archaeology, history and industry of the Dead Sea and surrounding area. It has also information about the environmental problem concerning the Dead Sea, such as decreasing of the Dead Sea water level and sinkhole in the Dead Sea coast. As the name suggests it has a magnificent view of the Dead Sea and the hills beyond it. Watching the sunset from here is a wonderful experience. 2 JD for the museum.
  • Mujib Reserve (About 40 kilometres south of the beaches). Limited access in winter. The reserve of Wadi Mujib is the lowest nature reserve in the world, located in the mountainous landscape to the east of the Dead Sea, approximately 90km south of Amman. The 220 km² reserve was created in 1987 by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature and is regionally and internationally important, particularly for the bird life that the reserve supports. The Mujib valley is being developed for adventure tourism, and a number of facilities have been established including a Visitors' Centre and a beach area on the Dead Sea. Experiencing Jordan’s Grand Canyon involves swimming, jumping, abseiling and floating. Its red walls are filled with running water that plunges through a 15-metre waterfall.
  • Hammamat Ma'in. A remarkable series of natural hot springs and waterfalls, some of which have been channeled into pools and baths. A spa resort is located in the vicinity of the waterfalls.
  • Lot's cave. Located on the site of the remains of an old Byzantine monastery and church above the village of Al Safi. The cave is believed to the one Lot took refuge in with his two daughters when God according to the Bible destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The site is officially closed for development work but a local guide can escort you up the 300 steps to the cave itself. If you are a small group you may be allowed to look inside the cave. From the site you can look out over the irrigated fields which have developed as the Dead Sea has retreated in recent years. To its feed there is also the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth, which is free with the Jordan Pass. Free.

Israel

  • Qumran National Park (Off Route 90 near Kibbutz Kalia, north of the Dead Sea, 7km south of Beit HaAravah junction. About a 40-minute drive from Jerusalem.), ☎ +972-2-994-2235. Open seven days a week from 8:00am. Closing hours: October to March - 4:00pm, April to September - 5:00pm. Closes one hour earlier on Fridays and eve of Jewish holidays. Qumran was home to a monastic Jewish sect 2000 years ago. They stored many of their documents in nearby caves, which when found in the 20th century became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. While the scrolls themselves are now displayed in Jerusalem's Israel Museum, the cave complex and ruins are open to visitors. ₪29/15 adult/child.
  • Einot Tzukim (Ein Feshkha). The world's lowest oasis, with pools, trees, wildlife, and archaeological remains. Located just northwest of the Dead Sea. You can swim in the pools (season dependent). ₪29.
  • Ein Gedi. Ein Gedi is a Kibbutz and nearby oasis (and official Nature Reserve) set in stunning desert canyons, which are great for hiking and experiencing nature. Also features the remains of a synagogue in the Old City Eye - Capricorn, from the Byzantine period, including a mosaic floor well preserved. Unfortunately, the previously existing close-by public beach at the Dead Sea is closed now due to sink holes, but there is another one just a few kilometres south. ₪27 for the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve.
  • Masada - Mountaintop Fortress (Masada National Park is 18 km south of Ein Gedi, or 12 kilometres from Ein Bokek to the cable car on the east (Dead Sea)), ☎ +972-8-658-4207, fax: +972-8-6584464. Open 7 Days a Week. First cable car - 8:00am. October to March - 4:00pm, April to September - 5:00pm. Masada is a mountaintop fortress which King Herod transformed in 35 BC into a 3 tiered winter home. Easily accessible via a quick cable car ride or by hiking up the serpentine path. Located only 18 kilometres north of the Ein Bokek hotel area. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, a spectacular light show in the evening recounts the dramatic history of Masada with special pyrotechnic effects. Spectators sit in a natural amphitheater on the west side of the mountain, reachable only via Arad, 20 kilometres away. ₪28 (not including the light show).
  • Nahal Zohar and Metsad Zohar (fortress) (walk up the river and then the 4wd track). Behind Neve Zohar you can find interesting canyons and further up the archaeological site and fortress Metsad Zohar.
  • Mount Sodom. A low mountain next to the Dead Sea which is 80 % made of salt. It includes fascinating landscapes, the Flour cave where the eroded rock has a texture similar to flour, and an impressive 200-metre salt cave. The Biblical towns of Sodom and Gomorrah may have been nearby (though other opinions place them elsewhere around the Dead Sea).

Top

edit

Weather

The climate at the Dead Sea varies depending on the season. Temperatures during the tourist season can become extremely warm, ranging from 30 °C in the spring to upwards of 40 °C in the summer. The area receives an average of 330 days of sunshine per year, with rainy days occurring only during winter (if at all). In general, the Dead Sea always is warmer than Amman, so also in Winter, when Amman is freezing, it allows for a swim.

Although the Dead Sea is very sunny the low altitude and extra atmosphere makes the sunlight weaker. It is therefore said that sunbathing here carries a lower risk of sunburn, but it is still advisable to take normal precautions using sunblock and adapt gradually. This quality of the Dead Sea sunlight is the real secret behind its mythological curing ability for several diseases, especially skin diseases. This is, in fact, natural photo therapy.

Top

edit

Getting There

Jordan

On the Jordanian side, the Dead Sea is possible as a day trip from both Amman and Aqaba. The road is a good dual carriage way. Tourist areas are accessible from the main road that runs along the eastern side of the body of water and connects to Jordan's Desert Highway running to Amman. Highways leading to the Dead Sea are clearly marked by brown tourist signs. It is an ambitious 3-hour drive from Aqaba in southern Jordan.

Taxi services for travel to the Dead Sea can be purchased for the day 20 JD if you hail a cab from downtown, downtown hotels charge 35 JD for the same service. Many of the local hotels and resorts have shuttles that travel from Amman to the Dead Sea for a fee.

There are a handful of bus lines that also run from Amman on a daily basis. Bus from Mujaharin bus station to Rame costs 1 JD. Taxi from Rame to Amman Tourist Beach 4 JD or less. Especially on good weather Fridays and Sundays, busses leave from Muhajarin bus station directly for Amman Tourist Beach, but if not they will at least drop you of along the road only a couple of kilometers before reaching the Sea. If you are used to hitchhiking it is then very easy to get a lift onwards.

JETT, the national Jordanian bus company, offers a daily shuttle from Amman (7th circle) to the Dead Sea and back. Single 7 JD. Stops seem to depend on demand; calls at least at Amman beach. Departure in the morning and return in the afternoon. Check the JETT website for up to date info.

From Aqaba a taxi can be hired for a full day. If booked through the reception of a nice hotel expect to pay about 100 JD. If you find a driver on your own, you can haggle and get the price down quite a bit (80 JD in January 2010 - possibly better deals can be agreed on). Make sure to arrange with the driver before you leave if you also want to stop by any other sites as part of your trip as the diver may not want to drive any farther than initially agreed.

There are taxis available from Madaba for the regular price of 7-10 JD. But hitchhiking might be the better option. Either way, don't forget to make a short stopover at Mt. Nebo.

Israel

The Israeli side of the Dead Sea is a possible day trip from Jerusalem (39 kilometres from Northern Dead Sea via the West Bank), Eilat (220 kilometres from Southern Dead Sea), or Tel Aviv (98 kilometres from Northern Dead Sea). There are four main road entry routes into the Dead Sea area. The first is via Highway 1 and Highway 90, through the West Bank, from the Jerusalem area. Alternatively, you could access the area from Eilat via Highway 90 from the south, or from Be'er Sheva, either on route 31 via Arad to Zohar junction, or on route 25 via Dimona to the Arava junction.

By bus, the easiest way to get into the area is from Jerusalem, from where buses are the most frequent. However, even from Jerusalem there aren't plenty of buses, so always check schedules in advance.

All bus lines to the Dead Sea get to the Ein Bokek hotel complex, and most of them also have a stop at Ein Gedi. Below are all bus lines that get to the Dead Sea (all are from main cities in Israel):

  • From Jerusalem: Lines 486, 487, 444.
  • From Beer Sheva via Arad: Lines 386, 384.
  • From Tel Aviv: Line 421, departing from near the Savidor Central Train Station, and going through highway 6 and Arad. This line has 2 trips per day each direction.
  • From the Arava Junction: Line 444 from Eilat, 321 from Dimona.

Taxi services can also serve the Dead Sea.

The descent on Route 1 from Jerusalem (Hebrew University area) to the Dead Sea is almost all downhill, descending 1,200 metres over a distance of 25 kilometres. Only a few km in two spots need pedaling, so the ride is almost like a motorcycle cruise, taking two to three hours. There are some scenic overlooks and monuments on the way. The highway is modern and has a good paved breakdown lane unless there is construction (mostly in summer). A turn south/right at the Dead Sea leads to most of the hotels and tourist areas. An inexpensive ride back up by bus no longer requires a second ticket for your bicycle, which must be placed in the under-bus baggage area. Bring several liters of water - if you can bring a few frozen bottles all the better, it can be a very hot ride in summer. Find refuge from the sun at gas stations or bus stops.

There is a small airstrip called Bar Yehuda Airfield or Masada airport. If you are a foreign licensed pilot or student you can hire local aircraft with a certified instructor to ride along and count towards hours in your log book, though apparently you can fly in with your own airplane entering Israel and passing customs through Ben Gurion Airport. Airplanes can be chartered or an air-taxi can be hired at airports and heliports around Israel to fly passengers to the air strip. Taxi service can be called for ground transportation or many of the Dead Sea resorts are within a half hour bicycle ride. There is an airport manager operating out of a tent and shipping container FBO with radio communications, food, some services, and a VOR beacon but no fuel on site without special ordering a fuel truck. This is the lowest runway in the world and you will have the unique experience of seeing your altimeter read negative 360 metres.

Top

edit

Getting Around

Mostly accessed by car, there are also many buses going south to Eilat, Neve Zohar and Arad or north to Jerusalem, at least hourly, all along the many road besides the lake.

Also hitchhiking is possible, but not many other tourists will be willing to pick someone up, due to currently fragile security situation.

Top

edit

Eat/Drink

The restaurant options near the Dead Sea are sparse.

Jordan

The Jordanian public beach contains an over-priced buffet-style restaurant and a small beach-side snack bar. It is recommended that visitors planning to visit the public beaches bring their own food and drinks. There are many resorts that can be found in Jordan to cater to tourists.

Also, there is the Samara Mall, where shops and restaurant can be found.

Israel

The town of Ein Bokek has two small shopping malls with a McDonald's, a number of Falafal Bars, a liquor store, and a few other stores selling everyday items and souvenirs. The shopping center has a large McDonald's sign on the roof. From the outside, it looks very out of place (and funny in a way) against the majestic background of desert mountains. Many people working there and in nearby hotels can speak Russian. There are also restaurants in each of the resort hotels on the Israeli side.

Top

edit

Sleep

Jordan

  • Dead Sea Resthouse (supposedly part of the Amman Public Beach), ☎ +962 5 3560110. This is a 2-star hotel.
  • O Beach Dead Sea (5 kilometres south of where most other hotels are), ☎ +962 5 3492000. Decent option. This is good start if you want to go further south, but there are no shops or restaurants except for the hotel's one around. You might have to bargain hard to achieve the quotes price – try by mentioning the Holiday Inn has specials for 60 JD on Booking.com. Otherwise try the Dead Sea Spa Hotel. From 50 JD.
  • The Dead Sea Spa, ☎ +962 5 3561000. A 4-star hotel with many amenities. The hotel is in the hotel zone, along side the Marriot and Kempinski. Minibus rental with a driver to get here from Amman (including visits to Baptism Site and Mt. Nebo on the way) costs 50 JD. There are a few swimming pools, including 2 children's pools and direct access to the Dead Sea, on the hotels own beach. From 55 JD.
  • Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea, Sweimeh, Dead Sea Road (approximately 55 kilometres south of Amman), ☎ +962 5 356 11 11, fax: +962 5 356 11 22, e-mail: resort.deadsea.reservations@moevenpick.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00 hrs. Peaceful resort set on the northern shores of the Dead Sea. Despite the antique look of the village, all 346 rooms are luxuriously furnished in warm and natural colours. The latest Beach Rooms and Beach Suites have modern furnishings and large terraces. Self-controlled air-conditioning, satellite TV, direct-dial phone, coffee and tea-making facilities, hairdryer, and a safe are standard fittings in every room. Including a heated pool for winter. A wide private beach runs along the Dead Sea shore, and there are jacuzzis, tennis courts and a fitness centre. There are also four restaurants and several cafes and bars. From 99 JD.
  • The Kempinski Hotel Ishtar, ☎ +962 5 356 8888. A 5-star hotel and spa.
  • Holiday Inn Dead Sea. 5-star resort opened in 2009. From 60 JD in off-season.
  • The Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa, ☎ +962 5 3560400. 5-star hotel.

Israel

  • Camping Neot, Neot Hakikar (next to Ein Tamar), ☎ +972 52-8991147, +972 52-2456651. They do not rent tents, but have three large “desert igloos” available, with mattresses if required. Otherwise you can just set up your private tent. ₪70/50 adult/child + mattress ₪5.
  • Metzoke Dragot (open camping area) (Drive up from the 90 (just before the checkpoint). Pass the hostel on top and keep going on the dirt road for a few minutes.). Open camping area with parking and fireplaces among the desert hills. No facilities or shade, come prepared. free.
  • Shkedi's Camplodge, South of the Dead Sea. Located in Neot Hakikar, Sodom area, 20 minutes from the Dead Sea shoreline (Bus 444 from Jerusalem to "Neot HaKikar - Branching Neot HaKikar Road 90". Call to arrange a pick-up from the bus stop (10km)), ☎ +972 52-2317371, e-mail: shkedi.camplodge@gmail.com. A beautiful hostel with uniquely built large bungalows and wooden cabins, all shaded by acacia trees, a bonfire inside a geodesic dome and a desert bar. Member of ILH. Dorms from ₪95, private from ₪250.
  • The Ein Gedi Beit Sarah Guest House, Near the Dead Sea road (# 90) at the entrance to the Nahal David reservation, ☎ +972 8-6584165, fax: +972-08-6584445, e-mail: eingedy@iyha.org.il. A guest house in the oasis of Ein Gedi with 51 rooms, some of which have balconies. Dorm bed from ₪145.
  • Massada Guest House, South of the Massada site, ☎ +972 8-9953222, fax: +972-08-6584650, e-mail: massada@iyha.org.il. A guest house on the slopes of Massada with 88 rooms and a private swimming pool. Dorm bed from ₪145.
  • Almog Hotel, ☎ +972 2-9945201.
  • Ein Gedi Country Hotel, ☎ +972 8-6594222, fax: +972 8-6584328, e-mail: eg@ein-gedi.org.il. Kibbutz Hotel.
  • Le Meridien Dead Sea, ☎ +972 8-6591234, fax: +972 8-659-1235. Check-in: 3:00pm, check-out: 12:00pm.
  • Royal Hotel, Ein Bokek-Dead Sea, ☎ +972 8-6688555, fax: +972-8-658-4503. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. At the lowest spot on earth , on the shores of the Dead Sea located the Royal Hotel Dead Sea. The hotel offers 400n guest rooms and exclusive suites which all offer an enchanting view of the Dead Sea, the Judaean Desert and the Moab Mountains. Additional hotel facilities: a fenced beach for hotel's guests, Solarium, outdoor fresh water pool, children's pool and private parking.
  • Prima Oasis, Ein Bokek-Dead Sea, ☎ +972 8-6688666, fax: +972-8-658-4503, e-mail: oasis@prima.co.il. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Oasis Dead Sea Resort - nestled between the Judaean hills and the shore of the Dead Sea - offers a new grand entrance pavilion and reception, contemporary accommodations and beautiful spacious grounds.
  • Magic Nirvana Club, ☎ +972 8-6689444, fax: +972-8-6689400. Newly renamed as Leonardo Club hotel.
  • Crowne Plaza Dead Sea, ☎ +972 8-6591919, fax: +972-8-6591911, e-mail: res@hiil.co.il. Check-in: 3:00pm, check-out: 11:00am.
  • Daniel Dead Sea, ☎ +972 8-6684666, fax: +972-8-6684668.
  • Caesar Premier, ☎ +972 8-6689666, fax: +972-8-6520301, e-mail: premier@caesarhotels.co.il.
  • Novotel Thalassa, ☎ +972-8-9553333, fax: +972-8-9553344, e-mail: rs@novotel.co.il.
  • Sheraton Moriah Dead Sea, ☎ +972 3-6213333, fax: +972-8-6584238. Check-in: 3:00pm, check-out: 12:00pm.
  • Hod Hamidbar Resort and Spa, ☎ +972 8-6688222, fax: +972-8-6584606, e-mail: info@hodhotel.co.il.
  • Dead Sea Gardens, ☎ +972 8-6689090, fax: +972-8-6584383.
  • Lot Spa Dead Sea Hotel, Dead Sea Road #90, Ein Bokek, ☎ +972 8-6689200. Check-in: 3:00pm, check-out: 11:00am. One of the oldest hotels in the area, with 199 rooms. Freshwater pool, heated Dead Sea pool (36°), 2 sulfur pools, Jacuzzi, sauna, large fitness room and treatment rooms.
  • Tsell Harim Hotel, ☎ +972 8-6688111. 3 Stars
  • Prima Spa Club, Ein Bokek-Dead sea, ☎ +972 8-6688000, fax: +972-8-658-4503, e-mail: speclub@prima.co.il. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. The Spa Club hotel is the first spa hotel of its kind in the entire Dead Sea region. Situated on the shores of the Dead Sea, the hotel is the first choice for business guests wishing to relax and unwind in an unbelievably calm and soothing atmosphere
  • Daniel Dead Sea Hotel, Ein Bokek, Dead Sea Mobile Post, ☎ +972 8-6689999, fax: +972-8-6689900. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. The Hotel caters for everyone, with swimming pools, a conference center and a health club where a gym, sauna, whirlpool and steam room all await you. And all of this with a stunning desert view across the waters of the Dead Sea.

View our map of accommodation in Dead Sea

Top

Accommodation in Dead Sea

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Dead Sea searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

Dead Sea Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Dead Sea

This is version 9. Last edited at 12:26 on Mar 19, 18 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License