Dead Sea Attractions
Introduction: The Dead Sea, is the lowest, and the fourth...
1. Kalia beach- On the Northern side of the Dead Sea, there are four authorized beaches. Kalia beach is, from my point of view, the best of them.
It offers showers, dressing rooms, Kiosk, restaurant, lifeguard, shade area, parasols, chairs, and shop for Dead Sea Creams and other cosmetics products, swimming suits, slippers, towels and lockers.
If you compare it to the beaches in the Southern side, there are several differences such as:
1. Both areas have beaches with lifeguard, Toilets and Showers, but the Southern beaches cost nothing (free of charge)!
2. You won't find Kiosk nor shops or lockers, on the Southern beaches.
3. You won't find free chairs and parasols in the southern beaches.
But, to summarize it, it is more than one hour and 20 minutes' drive, from the northern side to the southern beaches. Therefore, if you have nothing to do in the southern side- go to Kalia beach.
attached link to Kalia beach's Website: http://kaliabeach.com/en/
2. Qumran National Park- Qumran, was a village of the Essenic cult which are consider as the first monks (although they weren't a real Monks, because we know that some of them were married and had children).
We know, from the scrolls (The Dead Sea Scrolls), that we found in that area, that they lived as a common community, which remind the community structure of a coenobium (Latin)- the common Byzantine monastery.
The scrolls were first found in 1947 by a Bedouin, in one of the caves near the Village remaining. Since then, we found hundreds of scrolls.
The importance of these scrolls is:
2.1. Finally have the original version of the Bible from 2nd temple time.
2.2. We discovered how the Essenics used to live (we believe that John the Baptist lived there for several years).
2.3. We discovered a new Calendar, which they used.
2.4. We found there The Copper Scroll. Unlike the other scrolls written on parchment, this scroll is engraved on copper and contains a list of treasures (60 or 64) containing vast quantities of gold, silver, coins and valuable tools, along with hiding places of these treasures (whose total weight is estimated at 100 tons).
All of these scrolls are presented in the Shrine of the Books, in the Israeli National Museum.
You can start your visit in Qumran with a film which telling you the story of the place, and small exhibition of few of the Jars, which the scrolls were found in. Very interesting!
Link to Qumran website is: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/qumran-park/
3. Enot Tsukim Nature Reserve- Enot Tsukim is the lowest Nature Reserve in the world! Although it's on the coast of the Dead Sea, there are there hundreds of small springs, which provide all together around 70 million cub of fresh water, in a year. This is the biggest fresh water source, In Israel, which isn't use for human needs.
You can find there Wading and bathing pools, Fishes in the water (A unique species n the world!), Waterfowl, and abundant vegetation at the foot of cliffs rising in the heart of the lowest oasis in the world.
It's a nice and very unique experience to enjoy few hours (1-3 hours).
Link to Enot Tsukim website is: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/enot-tsukim-nature-reserve/
4. En Gedi Nature Reserve- En Gedi (meaning in Hebrew: The spring of young goat or Bambi), is one of the most beautiful Oasis in the Middle East. In the reservation there are two main streams: Arugot (garden beds in Hebrew), and David (on the name of king David). There are several trails of Hiking in Different levels of difficulty - Starting with a trail for families, up to hiking on the mountains which Surround the streams.
En Gedi is first mention in the Bible in the story when David (before he become a king), cut off a corner of King Saul's robe, while King Saul was asleep. As it written in 1 Samuel 24:1-22: "After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi....".
In one of the hiking trails, we can reach to David Cave (above David stream). In this cave, remaining from the 10th century BC (King David's time) where found.
The beginning of settlement in this desert area dates back some 5,000 years ago, during the Chalcolithic period. The remains of the temple's residents, can be seen in Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. The springs were utilized for irrigation using the canal method (as opposed to the inland agriculture, which is based on rainwater), and began to grow the dates and persimmons in the area. En Gedi was a Jewish settlement during the Babylonian, Hasmonean period, and you can even visit the spectacular remains of the local synagogue, founded in the 3rd century AD, which has the vowing address not to tell the secret of the city to strangers (probably the secret of the persimmon perfume.).
In the Nature Reserve there are many kinds of animals such as hyrax, gazelle -when the reservation is not crowded, you have a good chance to see them. and night predators (Never attacked Humans) as wolves, foxes, jackal, and hyenas.
Link to En Gedi website is: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/en-gedi-nature-reserve/
5. Masada National Park- Masada is an ancient fortress on the summit of a secluded cliff , at the eastern edge of the Judean Desert , which rises 20 Meters above sea level , and about 450 feet above the Dead Sea at its foot.
The cliff was chosen by King Herod to serve as a refuge and royal fortress and on its flat top were built magnificent palaces, and all the facilities which are needed to hold in a long siege. On the summit he arranged a farming area which were irrigate from cisterns he dig in the mountain. These cisterns were big enough to provide all the needs of the soldiers, their families, and the animals which the soldiers grew.
In addition to that, he builds in Masada huge storerooms, filled them with the farming products and sold it to convoys, which pass near Masada, from Yemen to the Mediterranean. As far as we know, he shared the profit with the soldiers to preserved their loyalty.
In the summit (access with a cable car), you will see the three floors palace, which Herods built on the Northern slope of the mountain. You will see the Big Royal Bath, the pools, the remaining of the paintings on the walls, and the marvelous porch which observe to all over.
You will see the wall which surround the mountain and was actually the residence of the soldiers, the huge cisterns, the Columbarium's which were used to grow Doves (from the word Columba= Dove in Latin), and the lottery room - the place that The Zealous made the lottery, after they decided to commit a suicide.
This is a MUST site in the Judaean desert.
Link to Masada website is: https://www.parks.org.il/en/reserve-park/masada-national-park/
6. Ein Bokek Hotels and Beaches- As I mentioned before, In the southern side of the dead sea, there is a big tourist center, with excellent hotels, restaurants, beaches, and mall with several stores.
You can enjoy your time, in one of the Hotel's Spa (without being the hotel's guest) and have some lunch in the hotel, and spend some time it the hotel facilities.
In addition to that, you can of course book a room for a night (or more...) in one of the hotels, enjoy the entertainment that these hotels offer, such as musical show at the evening, Massage at the Spa, sometime there are lectures in one of the halls of the hotel, regarding health issues, and more...It's one of the most popular relaxing areas, for Israeli's and tourist adults (Less recommended for families).
7. Mount Sodom- Mount Sodom is one of the most attractive sites in the Dead Sea area- mainly in Autumn, Winter and Spring (it's too hot on Summer).
The height of Mount Sodom is 165 meters below sea level, 267 meters above the Dead Sea (2018). It's the only mountain in the world which is made from salt!
You can reach to the summit of the mountain with 4WD vehicle, make an unforgettable tour, through the ravines, the caves, and the beautiful view which was created by the water and wind over Millions of years. On your way, you will see a very narrow, but high, rock, made of salt which we call "The wife of Lot". The best time to observe from the mountain towards to the Dead Sea is or on sunset, or at sunrise- just fascinating view.
8. Neot Hakikar- In the Southern side of the Dead Sea (We call it Sodom Square area), there is a small, but nice and very friendly, Moshav (sort of a village) name Neot Hakikar (the beautiful of the square- in Hebrew).
Nearby this village, there are some interesting sites and inside the village, we can meet some unique artists. what can we see there (Easy to access with a car)?
8.1. Monks caves- in this region, monks in the Byzantine time built small monastery in cave. We call the cave: "The cave of the cross", due to the fact that they carved crosses on the cave's wall.
8.2. Nabatean burial caves- There are there burial caves from the 2nd temple time, which were used by the Nabatean (the Nomads in those time). Later on, it was use for burial by others. Monks? Jews? We don't know.
8.3. Ein Plutit- A small spring of fresh water (with fishes) in the middle of the desert. The name of the spring "Plutit" is on the name of the daughter of Lot. it also called "the spring of the lovers". Charming.
8.4. The artist Jojo (Joseph Ohaion)- An expert (Present his work in Exhibitions all over the world) in tall metal vases, Trays, Wali sculptures, paintings, and artistic, yet functional, furniture. You will the visit in the studio, enjoy the meeting with the artist.
8.5. Moshe Medini's greenhouse- You'll have a unique option to visit a very special greenhouse which use to grow special vegetables, taste them directly from the plants, and meet Moshe Medini- which his consider in Israel as an expert of desert farming.