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Dead Sea Beach - original image source wikitravel.org

Dead Sea -  Israel & The West Bank

The Israeli side of the Dead Sea is a possible day trip from Jerusalem (39km from Northern Dead Sea), Eilat (220km from Southern Dead Sea), or, at a stretch Tel Aviv (98km from Northern Dead Sea). There are three main road entry routes into the Dead Sea area. The first is via Highway 1 and Highway 90, through the West Bank, from the Jerusalem area. Alternatively, you could access the area from Eilat via Highway 90 from the south, or from the road from Beersheva via Arad.

Visit the Ein Gedi National Park, the biggest and the most important oasis in Israel. The park is found in the Dead Sea Valley, which is an effect of the Great Rift Valley. In the park there are two sprung-fed rivers that streams for the all year: the David Stream and the Arugot Stream, and two more springs the Shulamit and Ein Gedi springs, also flow in the reserve.

Ein Gedi Kibbutz is a kibbutz located few dozens of meters southern than the park. In the kibbutz there is a beautiful botanic garden with more than 900 species from the entire world. The garden, that covers about 100 dunam, is the only botanic garden in the world with a settlement. Ein Gedi is a real oasis with lush vegetation, nestled between two streams, amidst the arid landscape. Today, fresh spring water from Ein Gedi is bottled here. The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is on Route 90 (Dead Sea road) about 1 kilometer north of Kibbutz Ein Gedi and it is open April-September: 8:00-17:00, October-March: 8:00-16:00. Visitors have access to the adjacent nature reserve for viewing bird sanctuaries and wildlife of the desert, including the Nubian ibex. Hikers have the choice of following two riverbeds and can follow trails past waterfalls, springs, caves, canyons and an early Bronze Age temple.

Visit Mount Sodom, the region's only salt desert, and home to the biblical towns of Sodom and Gommorah, afford breathtaking scenery within a couple of miles of the Dead Sea.

The Negev and Judean deserts are also within close radius of the Dead Sea with amazing desert landscapes. Perhaps some must-see landscapes are the three craters including the Ramon Crater.

Visit Masada - Mountaintop Fortress and Massada National Park.  Massada National Par is 18 km south of Ein Gedi, or 12 km from Ein Bokek to the cable train on the east (Dead Sea)Masada is a mountaintop fortress which King Herod transformed in 35 BC into a 3 tiered winter home. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is easily accessible via a quick cable car ride or by hiking up the serpentine path. It is open 7 days a week. First cable car - 8am. October to March - 4pm, April to September - 5pm. Located only 18 km north of the Ein Bokek hotel area.

Visit Qumran, one of the leading centers for tourism in the West Bank. Qumran is known as the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. While the scrolls themselves are now displayed in Jerusalem's Israel Museum, the cave complex is open to visitors.

NOTE: Camping is allowed for free on the Ein-Gedi coast (aprox. 500m south of the Kibbutz itself), toilets and showers are on site for a little fee. The ground is a bit stony so any kind of mattress is useful.

Related Links:

Dead Sea
Dead Sea From Jordan Side
Asia Parks
Travel Asia

Caution: During winter and spring there is a danger of floods on rainy days. The Dead Sea basin receives rainwater from relatively far-off areas like the Jerusalem Mountains. This means that sometimes during a sunny day a flood will suddenly and unexpectedly occur. Therefore, be careful when hiking to distant narrow places during these seasons and stay tuned to the weather news.

Warnings: The weather forecast always gives warnings if there is a possibility of flooding. Always do as national reserves staff order - they know the terrain very well. In 2007, several Israelis who had been "snappling" (rappelling) were killed by a flood because they did not obey national reserve staff orders.

Beware: Several people drown every year in the Dead Sea because they do not obey the rule: Only float on your back. Accidents happens when someone tries to swim normally (stomach first) in the water - the legs will float better than usual and the head will be submerged. Also, the salt in the water stings cuts and causes great pain if it comes in contact with the eyes, adding to the panic if one's head is under water.

Note: For walk on the beach always wear waterproof sandals. The salt is very jagged and can easily cut your feet.

Languages: On the Israeli part of the Sea, Hebrew and English are the most widely spoken languages. All resort and tourism staff will be able to speak both. On the Jordanian side, both Arabic and English are spoken.

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