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The Dead Sea, Lowest Place on Earth


Just past the 10,000-year-old city of Jericho is the end of the road and the lowest place on earth (more than 1,000 feet below sea level): the fabled Dead Sea. In an Israeli resort, visitors slather on therapeutic black mud and bob like corks in the super-salty sea.

Complete Video Script

Traveling deeper into the desert, our ears pop as we drop below sea level. We’re passing through Jericho. Dating back some 10,000 years, it’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth. The main square is a delight to explore. And, with the thick air that comes with this low altitude — we’re nearly a thousand feet below sea-level — its bananas, melons, and dates are famously tasty.

Rick: Merhaba!
Produce vendor: A’lain!
Rick: Oh, you have dates? From Jericho?
Produce vendor: Yeah. Yeah.
Rick: Is good?
Produce vendor: Yeah. Nice.
Rick: So, what is this, here?
Produce vendor: This is fresh dates.
Rick: Fresh dates?
Produce vendor: Yeah, fresh dates.
Rick: And this is dates…old dates.
Produce vendor: Also fresh; this is for taste it now.
Rick: Is good? Jericho?
Produce vendor: Very nice!
Rick: Yeah?
Produce vendor: Very sweet!
Rick: Whoa — that is sweet! A sweet date. I like that.
Produce vendor: Jericho dates.
Rick: Shukran!
Produce vendor: You’re welcome.
Rick: Bye-bye!
Produce vendor: You’re welcome.

The road ends where the Jordan River does: at the lowest place on earth, the fabled Dead Sea. For Palestinians there’s no free access to seaside, riverbank, or lakefront in the entire West Bank. Israel re-drew the border to control the entire Dead Sea shoreline. But, when tensions are low, Palestinian families who can afford the admission are welcome to enjoy Israeli Dead Sea resorts.

The Jordan River continually empties into this particularly dreamy-at-twilight inland sea. Because there’s no outlet for the water, and the scalding sun causes constant evaporation, the minerals concentrate. That’s why the water is about a third minerals — about six times as salty as the ocean — and you’ll float like a cork. If you have any little cuts, you’ll sting like mad. Keep the water out of your eyes and bathe near a shower. Locals come here for the therapeutic black mud — filled with natural minerals. They count on it to keep their skin young. Whether caked in mud or bobbing in the sunset, it’s fun to bring life to your Dead Sea experience.