Dead Sea – The lake experience

A short drive from Jerusalem is the poorly named lake that probably just missed the natural wonder of the world tag. There are not many natural bodies that can boast of as many superlatives. It is the lowest point on dry Earth, its is the saltiest waterbody and is probably the craziest floating experience you can get. The mud and salts of this place make their way into loads of beauty products and of nothing else, the brand does sell.

A room with a view

If the objective was just to take a dip, one could hire a cab from Jerusalem and the driver would take you about an hour East to a quite beach and let you enjoy some freak floating. I was keen on a longer adventure with the salt water and chose a night at a hotel in Ein Bokek. While there are several hotels to choose from, the one right on the beach with the best access to the sea is the Crowne Plaza. That is where I stayed. It is a little over 2 hours drive through some pristine desert one one side and the Dead sea on the other for most part of the journey. The city of Jerico will be visible at a distance, supposedly 10,000 years old and the oldest documented city – though has all the traits of a typical tourist trap. I passed on that. There are also a number of date plantations that are quite pleasant to the eyes.

Dead sea area is usually much warmer or should I say hotter than the cities of Israel. While Jerusalem was a bearable 29, Ein Bokek was at 42, even though its just a 2 hour drive. It is a good idea to stay in the hotel room or submerged in the water. I chose the later option. There was the Dead sea and if I needed a break, a wonderful pool. Floating in the salt water is quite an experience – the water feels more like a chemical though – maybe glycerine. It is easy enough to lie down on it like a bed, even if you have never swam before. Few things to be careful: Don’t splash around- the tiniest drop in the eye will hurt like hell. The beach has some sand but as you get into the water the sand is replaced by crystallised balls of salt that hurt the bare feet. If you have any cuts or bruises, it will hurt – real bad. Finally, its a good place to just float around, face up. Don’t try to swim!

Once the Sun sets, there is not much to do besides just winding down with a glass of wine. The hotel boasts of a huge buffet which I was in no mood for. I was surprised that besides the buffet, the lobby restaurant serves no meat – just fish. You can order a burger in room service though.

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