Dead Sea & Masada, Israel

Wayne Dunlap Floating Dead Sea Reading Lonely Planet Guidebook Isreal
Wayne Floating in the Dead Sea
Reading His Lonely Planet - Israel
Dead Sea from Masada Israel
Dead Sea from Masada - Israel
Salted Bicycles Dead Sea Ein Gedi Spa Israel
Salted Bicycles in the Dead Sea 
- Ein Gedi Spa, Israel
Pat Wayne Dunlap Dead Sea Mud Ein Gedi Spa Israel
Pat & Wayne Enjoying Dead Sea Mud
- Ein Gedi Spa, Israel

Dead Sea and Masada, Israel (5/20/2010)

The Dead Sea (see photos) is an incredibly strange place!

First, the Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth - 1,300 feet below sea level! Also, you float like a cork because the water is so thick with salt and materials (30%), it's hard to keep your feet on the ground. It is a strange feeling because every time you want to stand up in the water your feet pop up and you are floating again. 

We visited Ein Gedi Spa where the water is warm and you end up just floating around laughing and afterwards do a mud bath (see photo). Many believe that the Dead Sea has healing characteristics - the air, salt, and mud. 

Because Israel and Jordan now drain the Jordan River, the quantity of water that evaporates from the Dead Sea is greater than what flows into it and it has the highest concentration of salt in the world. Don’t get any in your eyes – it stings badly (Wayne knows). Check out the photos of the salty shoreline and the salt-caked bicycles.

Friend Kim Floating Dead Sea Israel girl bikini
Our New Friend Kim Floating 
in the Dead Sea - Israel
It is called the Dead Sea because its salinity prevents the existence of any life forms in the lake. Also located in this area is the Qumran cave site where the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd boy. These are the oldest existing copies of the Torah and other parts of the Bible.

Wall Masada Dead Sea Background Israel
Wall of Masada 
with Dead Sea in Background - Israel

Near the Dead Sea is one of the most well known sites in Israel, the Masada fortress, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, on top of an isolated and very high rock plateau (1,300 feet – we took the 5-minute cable car ride) overlooking the Dead Sea (see photo). Many visitors brave hiking up by the Snake Path.

Cable Car Going Up Masada Israel
Cable Car Going Up 
to Masada - Israel
Some history... Masada was built by Herod the Great in 37 BC as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt. After the First Jewish revolt from the Romans, a siege of the fortress by Roman troops led to the mass suicide of the 967 Jewish Sicarii rebels (men, women, and children) in 73 AD, who choose death over surrender. 

Because Judaism strongly discourages suicide, it is believed that the defenders had drawn lots and killed each other in turn, down to the last man, who would be the only one to actually take his own life. 

Masada is a very special place for the Israelis. Up until recently they held the swearing-in ceremony of soldiers on top of Masada. The ceremony ends with the declaration: "Masada shall not fall again.”

Please see our other 7 blog posts about this historical and interesting country of Israel:

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