The Dead Sea got its name for a reason: it’s salty, deadly and it stands at the lowest point on earth (at 1,388 feet below sea level). This world famous salt lake has almost 33.7% salinity – so hypersaline that not a single species of animal can survive. But more importantly, it’s hypersalinity makes swimming in it akin to floating.
As a child, I would scour through photos and encyclopedias about the Dead Sea with my father. His obsession started when he learned that the therapeutic water and climate at the Dead Sea can possibly cure his psoriasis. It’s always been his dream to go to the Dead Sea and although he hasn’t made it there just yet, I’ve had the chance to fulfill his dream (twice) on his behalf. The last time I’d visited I was in Jordan, and I was fascinated by the sensation of floating in sea water. This time, we’re seeing it from the Israel end and the magic hasn’t disappeared.
Bobbing in the Dead Sea was how I’d imagine floating in space would feel like. I felt the sensation of weightlessness and pure relaxation. Instead of struggling to keep afloat, I simply let go of my instincts, kick backed and let the waves take me. I slathered on some mud from the Dead Sea floor and covered my entire body with it. After washing it off, I emerged from the water like a new born baby.
The Dead Sea is an incredibly natural phenomenon and definitely one of the most intriguing places I’ve visited. Unfortunately, it has been rapidly shrinking because of the declining levels of its main source, the Jordan River. Since 1970, the water level has fallen over 72 feet to around 1,350 feet now. Our guide recalls that just ten years ago, the shoreline was just next to the road, now it’s almost 100 feet away.
As it continues to shrink, the characteristics of the salt lake and surrounding region may substantially change. Some scientists even predict that it’ll eventually disappear within 50 years’ time. I hope that the next time I return, I’ll bring my father. If you want to see it, do it soon, before the Dead Sea completely dries up…
This was part of the Masada Sunrise tour which also included a sunrise hike on the Masada desert fortress and a visit to the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. The price for this day trip is 260 Shekels (US$70).