How to get to the Dead Sea? What to do once there?
Driving south-west, just 60 km from Amman, it’s worth a stop at the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, 392 meters below sea level. Its climate makes this lake a popular destination above all during the winter months. Still, visitors are most attracted by its medical treatments for arthritic and rheumatic disorders treated by Balneotherapy and Thalassotherapy (check out our Jordan Itinerary).
Since the dead Sea is the saltiest natural lake in the world, it’s a must-do to float in the water. Try to swim here is very fun because once in the water, your legs and harms are pushed up, and as you go deeper, you feel your body become lighter. So Just lay back and allow your body to float. Don’t forget to spread and treat your body with the natural black mud before going into the water.
Many hotels offer you a pleasant stay and open for daily visitors (around 50 JD with lunch buffet). They all have swimming pools with a deckchair, so after having a “floating” into the dead sea, you can enjoy your stay taking sun tan and relaxing into the water (you can rent a towel for 3 JD).
During our trip, we spent a few hours at Dead Sea Spa Resort. Anyways, along the Jordan valley highway, you’ll find many other resorts. A few kilometres south of the Dead Sea spa resort, there is the Amman beach tourism resort, a cheaper option (25 JD) frequented by locals.
Discovering Madaba and Mount Nebo
Madaba, known as the “City of Mosaics”, is only 40 km from the shore where the resorts are located. Best known for its spectacular Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, Madaba is home to the famous 6th century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
With two million pieces of vividly coloured local stone, it depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns as far as the Nile Delta. The Madaba Mosaic Map covers the floor of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, built in 1896 AD, over the remains of a much earlier 6th century Byzantine church.
Next to Madaba, only 10 minutes drive, there is one of Jordan’s most revered holy sites where Moses looked upon the promised land and is said to be buried there: Mount Nebo.
Mount Nebo became a significant place of Christian pilgrimage, and a small church was built there in the 4th century to commemorate the end of Moses’ life. The church was expanded around the 6th centuries into the present-day large basilica, where you can visit its beautiful collection of Byzantine mosaics dated back around the 6th century.
Outside of the church stands the Serpentine Cross, which is symbolic of the brazen serpent set up by Moses into the desert and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. From the hill’s summit, during the clear days, you can enjoy a beautiful view over the Jordan Valley that can stretch as far as Jericho and Jerusalem.
Are you up for something alternative?
If you decide to overnight at the Dead Sea, it worth trying a wild canyoning adventure. Close to the Dead Sea resorts (driving south), you’ll find the Mujib Adventure Centre, the starting point to explore Wadi Mujib Biosphere Reserve. The reserve covers 212 km square bordering the Dead Sea at lower than 416 mt below sea level, which makes it the lowest reserve on the earth. Once at the Adventure Center, you can choose among a wide range of trails.
The most known and easiest is the Siq Trail, where you’ll follow the river’s course between towering stone cliffs to the base of a large waterfall. Here the gorge contains pools deep enough for swimming. At some points, you can enjoy the flowing and climb up the rock with a rope before diving. It takes you around 3 hrs, and runs from 8 am to 3 pm. The Centre provides the lifejacket and, in case, the helmet.
The other trails are the Canyon trail, Malaqi Trail and Ibex trail. These 3 trails are longer and more challenging than the Siq Trail and are only guided (they usually start around 8 am, the minimum is 6 people). Due to the rain season, the Mujib Adventure Center runs only between April 1st to October 31st.
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