The Dead Sea: Ignoring reflexes and Floating away
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The others in the group take off immediately, wide grins on their faces. Some have started smothering mud all over their faces too! I gingerly make my way to the water. I've had people tell me the water stings and burns your eyes. The beaches in Europe haven't quite been warm to my liking so I test the temperature with my foot first. The water isn't lukewarm but isn't cold either. By now, the others have ignored me completely, so I slowly start making my way into the sea. There's gravel that threatens to graze my feet if I plan to run. So as the guard instructed I slowly lower my back in the water and start floating immediately....to have the time of my life! You needn't be super cautious as I was but you do need to keep a couple of things in mind to ensure weightlessness of mind (and body)!
Before you hit the water
Do not shave(any body part) at least a couple of days before if possible. It will sting like crazy and in some cases swell too! If you have cuts and bruises wrap them up well so that the water does not make contact. Else it will burn...bad. It is all right not to keep applying sunscreen . In all the excitement if you did forget to apply sunscreen it's going to be all right. The Dead Sea being the lowest point on Earth has reduced UV levels due to the distance from the sun. So it is possible to stay exposed longer without getting burnt. There are changing rooms near the beaches (and they are clean). There are many changing rooms depending on where you plan to head into the Dead Sea. We went near Kalia Beach and the rooms were tidy there. It was noon and crowds were sparse. However, on holidays it may not be the same so expect longer wait times. There are lockers near the beach. It is safe to store your valuables here and the lockers have a card facility too (although the instructions are in Hebrew). It costs approximately 10 NIS. You may have to pay an entrance fee (if you are not staying at one of the hotels near the Dead Sea) approximately about 50 NIS depending on the beach you opt to go to. Ask your hotel for discount vouchers if you plan on going to a different beach other than the one near the hotel. It is perfectly fine to wear a bikini. I always avoid wearing one in conservative countries, but that's just me. It is fine to wear a bikini. Some travellers did mention that they were stared at but it isn't necessarily so. Wear an old bathing suit or a dark one. The mud does not come off easy and will discolour your bathing suit if its a light one. Try to arrive with your bathing suit on (underneath your outfit). It's less hassle if your changing rooms are not up to mark. Bring towels and toiletries. Some changing rooms do provide one on rent but best to get one yourself. If you're conscious keep a cover-up handy. There are chairs that you can use for free and place items that you may need immediately on them right beside the beach. I would not suggest placing other valuables here though. Carry a beach mat. If you're concerned about finding a decent spot to place your articles carry a mat to sit or place your items on. Take pictures before getting in. You can take pictures later too, however as I do not advise keeping valuables nearby and only storing them in the locker, its best to get your shots before you hit the water unless you have a GoPro. Some others did get out, dry themselves and then take pictures, so that is possible too. Carry warm clothing. It is pleasant during the day but once you get out of the sea it gets chilly, so keep something handy.
While in the sea
Tread slowly. There's gravel around so tread carefully. You do not want to hurt yourself and feel the sting immediately. Do not splash around (or swim). You are told so immediately by the guards before you get into the water. Best listen. I may or may not have paddled around and make some noise but I was cautious about not splashing around people who were almost asleep. Do not dunk/dive in. Unless you want your eyes to burn like they have never before and wet your hair, that in turn ensures water drips into your eyes every couple of minutes or so. I'm speaking from personal experience. It wasn't amazing. Float peacefully and keep your mouth shut unless you don't mind stepping out immediately to rinse your mouth (and your eyes). Request the guards to dig some mud. You can scrape up some yourself. Dead sea mud is usually found in chunks and hardly has any gravel in it. If you want a huge chunk the guards will happily dig and pass some over. Apply mud all over including your face, do not rub it in. Your skin will be pleased forever. It'll be smoother and moisturised than you've ever felt before. You can opt for treatments, facials at a charge, if you are putting up at a resort/hotel, but this is free. If you plan on getting a GoPro opt for GoPro 5. If other specifications do not bother you much and being water resistant is top priority, opt for GoPro 5. It does not require a case like the others. If you are using a different one, always keep it in the water as once it's out a salty film will form over it and cause the images to be blurry. [gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="52745,52751"]
Once you're done
Rinse off well (yourself and your suit). Outdoor showers are usually present immediately once you step out. Irrespective of whether you will be using the changing rooms or not, rinse off well. However, be careful, they're usually slippery. Rinse your GoPro too. If you use a GoPro or underwater camera be sure to rinse thoroughly with fresh water after as the high concentration of salt can corrode your equipment Avoid purchases of products from unknown brands. There are many stores that sell Dead Sea products that are located near the beach. Avoid unknown brands as they may contain harmful products. The Ahava brand is quite widely used and something I trust. they are usually out of stock for the most common items in which case I'd suggest Seacrets. There isn't a place in the world where you can get across to a different country without moving a muscle while watching the Judean desert on one end and Jordan on the other and that place is Israel! Do not leave without visiting this miracle!
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Visiting the Dead Sea, Israel
- The Ein Gedi beach is no longer open due to the formation of sink holes and if you're unsure where to head off in the sea, use the facilities available at the Ein Gedi Spa for a day.
- If you plan on using public transport, Egged Bus 486 & 444 travels from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station (platform 5) directly to the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi and Masada. More details can be found here
- If you plan on driving yourself, all you need is a valid driving licence from any country. An international one is not required. Ensure you stick to the timings strictly when picking/dropping a car off, when hiring one.
- Pick a local sim card, if you do not data roaming enabled and are worried about getting lost
- Local transportation is not available on Shabbath (Friday noon till Saturday evening) so plan accordingly
- If you still wish to head off to the Dead Sea (or Ein Gedi/Masada) from Jerusalem on Shabbath or find planning it by yourself overwhelming, Abraham Tours have self-guided, non-rushed daily tours. Pick up is from Abraham hostels.
If you're looking for more articles and information on Israel why not check the archives here!
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