Jordan has a host of breathtaking historical and natural sites to enchant the visitor. We made a memorable trip through Jordan in December 2018 and in this blog we give some real, practical travel tips for those visiting the Dead Sea, including a side-trip to see the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ.
We hired a minivan from Rentalcars.com in Amman and Andrew assumed the role as driver extraordinaire. The 8 of us piled into a Hyundai H1 with all our luggage, and headed off towards the Hilton Dead Sea Resort about 90 minutes south of the capital. Along the way we made a slight detour and went to visit the Baptismal site of Jesus along the banks of the Jordan River. None of us are religious, however the history of the site is what made it interesting and worthwhile. Parking the mighty H1 in the central car park, we first purchased our tickets before jumping into the shuttle bus that takes you to the site.
After about 5 minutes in the shuttle we arrived at the pickup/drop off site and followed our guide towards the Jordan River. After about 5 minutes we arrived at a dry hole in the ground which our guide assured us what the very spot where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Our guide assured us that in Roman times this spot was very different and that their neighbors across the river had diverted the course of the river over the years to the detriment of the Jordanians. Who were we to argue?
After a few photographs we headed further towards the “new” banks of the river. This was an interesting experience in itself. We arrived at a wooden platform on the banks of the river looking directly over at the Palestinian side merely 30 metres opposite. In the middle of the river was a wire divider and both sides had a few soldiers to keep everyone on the correct side. Whilst we were the only group on the Jordanian side, there were a number of groups of pilgrims across from us undertaking baptism ceremonies. This was clearly a very strong spiritual experience for those involved and there was lots of wailing and hollering coming across the water. One of our group decided to Baptise himself and bravely waded into the lake and dunked himself a couple of times in the muddy waters.
Having been spiritually refreshed, we piled back into the shuttle, headed back to the central car park, into the H1 and resumed our drive to the Hilton Dead Sea resort. Barely 30 minutes later we drove into the car park at the Hilton. As it was our 15th wedding anniversary, Andrew and I treated ourselves to a nice big suite overlooking the Dead Sea.
I must say though, the check-in process at this resort was for certain the slowest and most painful check-in experience I have ever experienced! Apparently Jordan has this horrendously complicated system whereby they cannot charge for hotel rooms in advance – even when the sell pre-paid hotel rooms. They then charge you again at check-in and you have to wait weeks to get a refund. Eventually it works, but it is a proper ball-ache.
A small piece of advice for those wanting to go float in the Dead Sea – Christmas is NOT the best time to do this. It is about degrees too cold. Having said that, we did float in the Dead Sea at Christmas and have lived to tell the tale, but it is just a fraction on the cold side. The positive is of course, that there were not so many tourists at the time we were there.
So what is it like to swim in the Dead Sea. In a word, hilarious! We spent the entire time in stitches – it was so funny! Given the extremely high salt content of the water, you literally float on the top of the water. It is almost impossible to put your legs down and float vertically as you normally would in the sea or in a pool. As soon as you try to put your legs down, they just float straight back up again and you end up horizontal, floating and laughing. Under no circumstances get water in your eyes – it stings like hell!
The only thing that makes this exercise funnier is to cover yourself in the Dead Sea mud. They say it’s good for the skin, but it’s just damn funny and that makes it worthwhile. Imagine a group of 8 middle-aged, not so athletic people, covered in black mud, floating in the Dead Sea peeing themselves laughing – that was us! We had an absolute blast and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Lynn and Andrew Mitchell are 50-something travelers who enjoy travelling in comfort through some pretty interesting places. We started Einhorn Travel Accessories because of our passion for travelling the world, seeing amazing things and enjoying unique experiences together. We believe our extensive travel gives us a unique perspective, and we understand how important it is to have the right gear. We source travel accessories from around the world and offer them on one site. We would really appreciate you visiting our store and making a purchase or two.
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Travel date: 28 December 2018