Following the Intrepid welcome meeting the previous evening we had an early start for the first full day of our Jordan adventure! Our group of 9 had already bonded as we exchanged travel stories over hummus and flat bread in Harem, where I had lunch when I first arrived in Amman. A minibus collected us together with our luggage and at 6:45 am we headed south towards Mukawir the starting point of our first trek…
Yalla! Lets Go!
We stopped en-route to buy freshly baked bread and pastries, choosing them while still warm directly from the large oven trays. And snacks and supplies of water from a supermarket. And a bit later a greengrocer to buy fruit…
By around 09:00 am we had arrived in Mukawir, a small village in the mountains where we could already see the Dead Sea in the distance. We were dropped off at the start point of the trek, approximately 1300 meters above sea level and began our descent towards the Dead Sea.
As we trekked we came across occasional shepherd camps and at one point a group of cute baby goats wandered inquisitively up to us… and tried to nibble anything they could…
We continued along the trail heading towards the sea…
Apparently there are three climate zones along this trail; we noticed as the climate changed from pleasantly warm (around 18 degrees when we began) and it grew steadily hotter the further down we trekked.
At somewhere around this point we were at sea level.
This first trek was a great opportunity to chat with my new friends as we took in the stunning landscape and views all around us.
Eventually about 4 hours and 14 km later we had reached the Dead Sea at 430 meters below sea level. We were now officially at the lowest point on Earth! And the temperature was now around 37 degrees!
Our mini bus was waiting at the Dead Sea and drove us for about 30 minutes to the Dead Sea Spa, the hotel we were to stay in that night. After checking in we had the rest of the afternoon free so headed straight towards the sea!
There was a large receptacle of mud and to obtain healing benefits you need to cover yourself in the mud, let the sun dry it out a little (say for 10 minutes) and then you wash it off in the Dead Sea…
Floating in the Dead Sea was a fun experience although due to the density of the salt it was virtually impossible to swim! This high concentration of salt means that plants or animals are not able to survive which is where the name comes from.
The Dead Sea is rapidly shrinking with the surface level dropping by about 1 meter a year. There is a multi billion dollar project to link the Red Sea to the Dead Sea in order to pump water to top the water levels up.
With its multiple pools and facilities the Dead Sea Spa was a pleasant surprise and we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing around one of the pools.
This day coincided with the start of Ramadan and Intrepid Travel kindly gave us a free buffet dinner in the large airy hotel restaurant.
From the hotel we could see the lights of Jerusalem and the West Bank on the opposite shores of the Dead Sea.
After a comfortable night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast we left the Dead Sea Spa at around 11 am to begin our drive towards Petra!
Muhammad, our guide kept us entertained during the two hour drive with his quick wit, hilarious stories and also his compelling insights into the culture of Jordan and the Middle East. It was fascinating to learn far more about the Muslim month of Ramadan, for example, than I had previously known or understood.