Two things I remember from our brief stop in Nara are the heat and the clever deers begging tourists for biscuits. Nara is the old capital of Japan and is a home for many Unesco sights. It is a must stop for the history lovers.
Everybody knows that the mountain Everest is the highest point on the face of the Earth, and it is definitely on my to do list. But before I save $30K for the group climbing excursion, I decided first to pay a visit to the lowest point on Earth – the Dead Sea.
It is located right in middle of the Middle East and is officially is shared by Palestine, Israel and Jordan. However after taking the Highway 90 from Tel Aviv down to this area and passing by what (according to the map) should be the Palestinian part of this lake, it seemed like it is completely under Israel’s control. Well, but we’ve already known that Israel is not particularly good in sticking with the border lines…
So, we rented a car in Tel Aviv and after less than 2 hours we were crossing by the dessert mountains and palm trees forests. It was midday of Saturday, so the road was empty with only few cars passing by.
One thing that impressed me about this wonder is the perfect, mirror-like reflection of the Dead Sea. Here is the closer look to it:
We spent a night in Ein Bokek, not a town, rather a hotel strip. Do I recommend it? No, not really, hotels here are very expensive and quite old. Also, almost no eating out/going out options available. But again it was the beginning of January.
In the morning, we gave a lift to a couple of hitchhikers, who spent a night on the beach and woke with mosquito bites on their faces (not sure if they slept at all). So, don’t do it either!
Around the Dead Sea
So, the Dead Sea can be fun for some time, but as it is not recommended spending more than 15 minutes in its salty waters, you might get bored quite quickly. But there are a few other things you can do around here.
A very special site for many Israelis and Jews. Masada is remainings of an ancient town, situated on the top of the rock. A heroic legend of Siege of Masada attacks locals to visit this place, for others it is a chance to look over the Dead Sea and the Judean desert from 400 meters up:
Ein Gedi hikes:
Ein Gedi is described as an oasis in the dessert and offers a number of hiking routes situated across the shore of the Dead Sea. We stopped at Wadi David and did an hour long hike to the David’s waterfall and back.
Ein Gedi kibbutz & Botanical garden
The local kibbutz (commune) is situated on the hill overlooking the Dead Sea and mountains. The community here runs a hotel and a famous Botanical garden (in the middle of the dessert!) with plans from all over the world.
and then and here it was a time leave back to Tel Aviv.
At the end of this blog I would like to share a few tips, should you be interested in visiting Palestine. This trip was too short for us to do so, but here is what I learned from my research:
Jericho (the city of Palms) – if you are in the Dead Sea area do not miss out on this town in West Bank. Believed to be one of the oldest villages in the world offers plenty of archaeological and Biblical attractions.
The Dead Sea area is quite badly reachable by the public transport, so to travel around here you will need to rent a car (or hitchhike). But with a car rented in Israel you will not be able to visit West Bank. Here is one of the alternatives for you to rent in Jerusalem.
Note to myself: next time I am around the Dead Sea I want to stay here.