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The Travel Well Guide
The Dead Sea
City: Jordan State: N/A Country: Israel
The Dead Sea is a salt lake between Israel and the West Bank to the west, and Jordan to the east. It is 423 metres below sea level, and its shores are the lowest point on the surface of Earth on dry land. The Dead Sea is 380 meter deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. It is also one of the world's saltiest bodies of water, with 33.7% salinity. Only Lake Assal (Djibouti), Garabogazkol and some hypersaline lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica have a higher salinity. It is 8.6 times as salty as the ocean. This salinity makes for a harsh environment where animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea is 67 kilometers (42 mi) long and 18 kilometers wide at its widest point. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley, and its main tributary is the Jordan River.The name the Dead Sea conjures up images of people trying to sink, arid landscapes, salt flats and the history that was made, and still is, along its shores. Any description of it contains superlatives, e.g., it is the deepest exposed point on the earth's surface and it is the deepest hypersaline lake on the planet. However, contrary to popular belief, it is not the saltiest water on the planet: Lake Asai in Djibouti and Don Juan Pond in western Antarctica both have greater salinity. It is the salt that prevents the lake harbouring anything but extremely hardy bacteria and microbes.It lies on the border between Jordan, Israel and the West Bank in the Jordan Valley, the northern extension of Africa's Great Rift Valley. It is so salty because it has no outlet and receives minimal amounts of rain. Most of the water entering the lake is rich with minerals, including salt, and when the water evaporates, the salt remains. In recent years, the flow in the Jordan has lessened while evaporation rates have stayed the same, so the lake is both shrinking and getting saltier. The southern part of the lake is drying out rapidly and giving way to salt flats. Its mineral-rich muds are thought by many to have health-giving properties and there are spas and treatment centres dotted around the lake's edge. The hills and mountains surrounding the lake are home to a variety of species that cope with the dry conditions, including camels, foxes, hares, hyraxes and ibexes.
Climate | When to Visit
Visit during: February to November
Directions | How to Reach
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.