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The Dead Sea (Hebrew: ים המלח, Hebrew transliteration:Yam HaMelach; Arabic: البحر الميت, Arabic transliteration: al-Bahir al-Mayyit) has its western coast in Israel and the West Bank. It is the lowest point in the world at 394.6 m (1269 ft) below sea level. Currently, 25 km of Dead Sea coastline lie within Palestinian Authority territory, including Qumran and Ein Feshka.
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Points of Interest in Ein Bokek
The hypersalinated water of the Dead Sea itself is its own attraction. There are several nearby attractions that are worth attention:
- Masada - Mountaintop Fortress, Masada National Park is 18 km south of Ein Gedi, or 12 km from Ein Bokek to the cable train on the east (Dead Sea), ☎ +972-8-658-4207/8, fax: +972-8-6584464. Open 7 Days a Week. First cable car - 8am. October to March - 4pm, April to September - 5pm. Masada is a mountaintop fortress which King Herod transformed in 35 BC into a 3 tiered winter home. Easily accessible via a quick cable car ride or by hiking up the serpentine path. Located only 18 km north of the Ein Bokek hotel area. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Masada Sound and Light Show, ☎ +972-8-9959333. April to October - Tuesday and Thursday (excluding holiday eves). Running time: 40 minutes. Spectacular light show recounts the dramatic history of Masada with special pyrotechnic effects. Spectators sit in a natural amphitheater on the west side of the mountain, reachable only via Arad, 20km away.
- Ein Gedi Oasis and Kibbutz. Ein Gedi is a real oasis with lush vegetation, nestled between two streams, amidst the arid landscape. Today, fresh spring water from Ein Gedi is bottled here.
- Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve is on Route 90 (Dead Sea road) about 1 kilometer north of Kibbutz Ein Gedi, ☎ +972-7-658-4285, fax: +972-7-652-0228. April-September: 8:00-17:00, October-March: 8:00-16:00. Situated near the Kibbutz, visitors have access to the adjacent nature reserve for viewing bird sanctuaries and wildlife of the desert, including the Nubian ibex. Hikers have the choice of following two riverbeds and can follow trails past waterfalls, springs, caves, canyons and an early Bronze Age temple.
- Qumran - The Dead Sea Scrolls, Qumran National Park is off of Route 90 near Kibbutz Kalia, north of the Dead Sea. The park is about a 40-minute drive from Jerusalem in the West Bank, ☎ +972-2-994-2235. Open seven days a week from 8am. Closing hours: October to March - 4pm, April to September - 5pm. Closes one hour earlier on Fridays and eve of Jewish holidays. The ancient caves and settlement at Qumran on the northern shores of the Dead Sea where the oldest biblical documents ever found trace the history and daily lives of the mystical Essenes, a Jewish sect that fled Jerusalem 2000 years ago.
About Ein Bokek
The climate at the Dead Sea varies depending on the season. Temperatures during the tourist season can become extremely warm, ranging from 30°C (86°F) in the spring to upwards of 40°C (104°F) in the summer. The area receives an average of 330 days of sunshine per year, with rainy days occurring only during winter (if at all).
Although the Dead Sea is very sunny the low altitude and extra atmosphere makes the sunlight weaker. It is therefore said that sunbathing here carries a lower risk of sunburn, but it is still advisable to take normal precautions using sunblock and adapt gradually. This quality of the Dead Sea sunlight is the real secret behind its mythological curing ability for several diseases, especially skin diseases. This is, in fact, natural phototherapy.
Caution: During winter and spring there is a danger of floods on rainy days. The Dead Sea basin receives rainwater from relatively far-off areas like the Jerusalem Mountains. This means that sometimes during a sunny day a flood will suddenly and unexpectedly occur. Therefore, be careful when hiking to distant narrow places during these seasons and stay tuned to the weather news. The weather forecast always gives warnings if there is a possibility of flooding. Always do as national reserves staff order - they know the terrain very well. In 2007, several Israelis who had been "snappling" (rappelling) were killed by a flood because they did not obey national reserve staff orders.
Short of actual drowning, inhalation of the water can cause specific, sometimes lifethreatening medical problems not seen with other bodies of water, because of the water's very high electrolyte content so be sure of your swimming abilities and confidence in the water before deciding to swim on your front.
- Tip if in a resort: Wash the salt off in the beach showers before you use your towel. Otherwise the towel will get salty and leave salt on your skin when you use it after your shower (the salt can cause an itch).
- Ein Bokek Public Beach, ☎ +972-8-6594433.
- Ein Gedi Public beach, ☎ +972-8-6594433.
- Hamai Zohar Public Beach, ☎ +972-8-6594433. Alternative to Ein Bokek and Ein Gedi beaches with separate bathing for men and women.
- Ein Gedi Spa Beach, ☎ +972-8-6594413. The signature element of the Dead Sea - black mud, has both cosmetic and therapeutic benefits known to cleanse and stimulate the skin. Relieve muscle and emotional tension; improve blood circulation and ease rheumatic pain at Ein Geidi Spa beach.
- Mineral Beach, ☎ +972-2-9944888. Visit Mineral Beach, which also includes a fresh water beach and public pool.
- Atraktzia Water Park, near Kalia, ☎ +972-2-9942391. Water park with h water pools and slides.
Visitors can purchase packets of the famous mud, as well as other cultural artifacts and handicrafts, from local gift shops. The Israeli side is home to the world famous Ahava Dead Sea Products. The Ahava Factory is located at Kibbutz Shalem, directly across Route 90 from Mineral Beach.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Dead Sea (Israel and the West Bank) on Wikivoyage.