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The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea from the Jordan side

This inland sea is around 60km long and some 12km wide. On one side is Israel and the Palestinian West Bank, and on the other is Jordan. Most remarkably it is 410m below sea level. This makes the Dead Sea the lowest place on Earth and it also gives it a much better climate than Amman which is a mere 70km away in the mountains.

Although the Jordan River runs in and out of the Dead Sea, evaporation gives it such a high salt content (30%) that it is possible to float in it - in fact it is impossible to sink and very difficult to swim. The black, greasy mud of the Dead Sea is so full of minerals that it is considered beneficial for a wide variety of ailments. Dead Sea health products are marketed all round the world.

Although many visitors travel from the capital, Amman, we approached from the south on the road that runs from Aqaba along the Jordan valley. The view gradually changed from desolate desert scenery in the south to lush green farms as we approached the Dead Sea. The only things that marred the outlook were the mineral works near the aptly named Potash City.

We stopped near the southern end of the Dead Sea to photograph 'Lot's Wife', a rather uninteresting vertical rock on a cliff top supposed to represent the outcome of the Old Testament story where Lot and his wife fled Sodom prior to its destruction (and that of Gomorrah) and were told by an angel not to look back. Lot's wife disobeyed this instruction and was turned into a pillar of salt. The stop did, however, give us our first close look at the Dead Sea (picture right) which was bright blue and amazingly beautiful.

Potash plant, Dead Sea, Jordan
Mineral works near Potash City
Lot's wife, Jordan
Lot's wife
Dead Sea
Salt deposits on the cliffs

Eventually we arrived at the Dead Sea Resort, a collection of hotels - some still under construction - at the north-east of the Sea. Almost the first thing we did was head for the small, stony beach in the grounds of our hotel. Although I am not at all happy in water, and cannot swim, I couldn't travel to the Dead Sea and not try out its unique feature. Assisted by our Tour Manager, Mike, I nervously entered the water until it was about thigh high. He then lowered me backwards so that I was horizontal and sure enough I floated. I was not prepared for the need to balance - I had a tendency to roll sideways. After the obligatory photograph (see below), I tried to get up, but this was more difficult than it seemed. I could put my feet on the ground, but as soon as I tried to put my hands down, the bouyancy was such that my feet lifted off the sea bed. With Mike's help I got up, relieved but pleased, and adorned myself with some of the health-giving mud. Julie had a turn at floating and then we headed for the shower (actually more of a hose) to clean the mud off.

Floating in the Dead Sea Medicinal Dead Sea mud Floating in Jordan's Dead Sea

After our whistle-stop tour of Jordan, the Dead Sea was a most relaxing place. We spent the early evenings admiring the amazing sunsets and drinking cola in the cool open air until the outdoor bar shut.

Sunset over the West Bank, taken from the Dead Sea Resort in Jordan

Hotels in Jordan

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