This post marks day 6 of our biblical journey with the Church. It was part of the Hope and Grace TBN Israel tour 2018 with Pastor Joseph Prince and Pastor Joel Osteen.
Dead Sea Region
I signed up for this Israel Trip alone, but I was paired together with another lady just so that I could have a roomie in a twin sharing room. By God’s grace, we were of the same age, and she was a pleasant friend to be with.
So day 6 was unexpectedly fun as we ventured out of Jerusalem to this place called the Dead Sea. I came to learn that the Dead Sea is more of a lake than a sea as it is found inland, bordered by Jordan, Israel and Palestine. As many of you would have known, the dead sea is the lowest point on Earth. It is about 430 metres below sea level, and its water is about ten times saltier than normal seawater. Even the topography of the land at the Dead Sea area is so different from Jerusalem.
Our first stop was Bethabara which means ‘House of Preparation’ in Hebrew. This baptismal location is located close to the Jordan River’s entry into the Dead Sea. That explains there are barricades placed to demarcate the area. This is the site where John the Baptist could have baptised Jesus. This area is also associated with the entry of children of Israel into the Promised Land, just before they laid siege to Jericho.
Ein Gedi National Park
Ein Gedi is my favourite attraction of this Israel trip because we get to do a short hike up to the waterfalls. We even spotted some wild animals like the ibex, a type of wild mountain goat. Ein Gedi can be translated as ‘ The Spring of the Goat Kid’. It is an oasis in the desert which is known for its beautiful springs, caves and animal life. In the bible, this place is also called Hazazon Tamar where a vast army is coming against King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah.
This area is also associated with the encounter between David and King Saul who persecuted him despite David not having done anything wrong to King Saul. Did you see those caves and crags in the picture above? David and his men could have hidden in one of such caves while King Saul and his army went around searching for him.
I spotted a Rock Hyrax chilling under the rock, sheltering himself from the heat. You could spot a few of them scurrying up the trees and climbing over the rocks. They are shyer than ibexes.
You could quickly climb up to the waterfalls using the constructed steps. There are also railings where you can only for support. We went to three waterfalls, and it took us about an hour to hike up. The climb up to the third waterfall is slightly more challenging as you would need to thread your way through the dark caves on very narrow paths. But it was all worth it when you see the majestic waterfall that cascaded down into the pool. Try swimming or dipping your feet into the cold rejuvenating waters to beat the heat!
If you have more time to spare, you should try the 5-hour hike up the dry Canyon to the En Gedi Spring and Dodim cave.
On our walk back to the main entrance of the Nature Reserve, we passed by a few ibexes.
Beautiful, isn’t it? The ibex’s brown fur coat camouflages with the desert terrain.
Qumran Shop and Restaurant
We had lunch at a restaurant adjacent to the Qumran shop where you can buy all the Dead Sea skin care products as well as souvenirs. To me, the skincare products were quite costly, so I gave it a miss.
Qumran National Park
Right next to Qumran shop is the Qumran National Park. Over there, you will be able to view the cave where the dead sea scrolls were discovered. The dry weather in this lowest area of the earth had preserved the manuscripts which were written on leather parchments and papyri.
We spotted a flock of migratory birds forming the arrowhead formation. How cool is that? There are plenty of migratory birds that transcended above us.
Dead Sea Float at Kalia Beach
There were several beaches along the coast of Dead Sea but the one we were brought to is Kalia Beach. This beach is found along the northern-most part of the Dead Sea. There were changing rooms and showering facilities provided. I saw that there were lockers too but I wasn’t too sure if it is free or not. There’s also a cafe and shops selling Dead Sea products as well. There’s one particular shop that sells delicious organic dates which is worth checking out!
Want to get a tub of coloured dead sea salt back home? The prices of the Dead Sea products are quite similar to the ones sold at the Qumran shop.
I would recommend getting your Medjool dates here because the ones sold here tasted really good!
Getting Ready to Float in the Dead Sea
The experience of floating in the dead sea was pretty amazing! You shouldn’t miss this at all. It is a must-try if you visit Israel. There are public changing and showering rooms along the Dead Sea beach which we went to.
It is best to wear your old clothes or swimsuit because it is tough to wash the dead sea mud off the clothes once it is stained. Since the salt content of the dead sea is very high, you shouldn’t attempt to swim or splash water in it. The water might get splashed into someone else’ eyes. All you need to relax and you will naturally float up. To get out of the floating position, you will just need to push your two legs downwards to the ground to push yourself up. Underneath the sea water is actually the soft dead sea mud. Your feet might sink into it, but it is okay because you can slowly walk your way up to the shore.
Wadi Qelt is a deep gorge in the Judean Wilderness that runs from Jerusalem down to Jericho. This rugged terrain is probably where Jesus has undergone forty days of temptation in the wilderness after he was baptised at Bethabara. It must have really though to walk through this rugged terrain where the ground is so uneven.
A sandstorm was about to start while we were at Wadi Qelt. Thank goodness, the dust storm wasn’t that great otherwise we would have got sand particles caught in our eyes. What an eventful day! I’m missing the Dead Sea already.
That’s a typical day for us in Israel during our biblical tour with Sar-El. Do check out for the next blog post as we unravel the other interesting sites in Jerusalem! Or you can visit my main blog post on Israel to have a look at our tour itinerary.