The Dead Sea is a unique natural wonder and a popular tourist destination. That saltwater lake is situated at the lowest point on Earth, more than 400 meters (1,300 feet) below sea level.
Bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and Palestine to the west, the Dead Sea is a major tourist attraction in Jordan, with several resorts, hotels, and spas located along its shoreline.
Of course, the Dead Sea’s famous salt ponds are on their own a reason to visit that region…
The post below aims to provide an overview of the main landmarks (with no specific order).
Dead sea shore and salt ponds
The sea is known for its extremely high salt concentration, which is about 10 times saltier than the average ocean. The high salt content of the Dead Sea makes it nearly impossible for aquatic life to thrive, hence the name “Dead Sea.”
You can find some nice salt ponds in different areas. In my view, the nicer area is south of the Mujib biosphere reserve (at the “border” between Madaba and Karak governorates)
The best time to be there is around sunrise …
You’ll get rewarded with beautiful colors and light in all directions 🤩
The views across Israel can be beautiful as well…
Not to leave it unsaid, however, the shores are very dirty (full of plastic), even if my pictures don’t show that 😢
For completeness in that area, there is a famous salt statue known as the “The Pillar of Lot.” According to the bible, Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The pillar is said to be a natural rock formation that resembles a person looking back. Not very exciting from a photography point of view however 😢
Dead Sea resorts
Of course, you’ll find many luxury resorts and hotels, all along the coastline so you can even enjoy sunrise & sunset without moving.
Due to the high salt content, the water in the Dead Sea is incredibly buoyant. This allows visitors to effortlessly float on the surface, making it a unique and enjoyable experience.
The Dead Sea’s extraordinary features and therapeutic benefits make it a must-visit destination for travelers to Jordan. Whether you want to experience the sensation of floating effortlessly, enjoy the healing mud and mineral treatments, or simply relax in a breathtaking natural setting, the Dead Sea offers a one-of-a-kind experience.
Wadi Mujib, also known as the Mujib Biosphere Reserve is a stunning natural attraction along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.
It is the lowest nature reserve in the world, sitting at approximately 410 meters (1,350 feet) below sea level. The reserve covers an area of about 212 square kilometers (82 square miles). And is mainly a deep canyon that runs through the mountainous landscape.
Wadi Mujib is renowned for its adventurous hiking and canyoning opportunities. Visitors can explore the canyon by hiking through its narrow passages, wading through pools, and scrambling over rocks. The water level in the canyon can vary, so it’s essential to check the conditions and consult with the reserve authorities before planning a trip.
The most popular hiking trail in Wadi Mujib is the Siq Trail. It takes visitors through the narrowest and most impressive part of the canyon. The trail involves walking, swimming, and sometimes even climbing waterfalls, making it a thrilling adventure for outdoor enthusiasts.
Clearly, the canyon offers amazing photography opportunities….
It is however a dangerous place for cameras, even with a waterproof bag. The first part should be fine with an expensive camera (at your own risk as it is already slippery with some holes 😱)
but to reach and pass the three waterfalls, the only photography option is an iPhone in a hard waterproof case…
Wadi Mujib offers an exceptional adventure for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and photographers, combining stunning natural beauty with thrilling activities so this is really a must if you travel to the area.
According to the New Testament, John the Baptist played a significant role in the life of Jesus Christ. It is believed that John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, near Bethany beyond the Jordan (modern-day Jordan), marking the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan archaeological excavations have revealed evidence of ancient churches and baptismal pools and the site became a significant pilgrimage destination, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
To accommodate visitors, facilities were created around the Baptism Site, including visitor centers, churches, archaeological exhibits, and walking trails.
The (very small) Jordan River marks the boundary toward Israel, and you can see on the Israelian side some baptisms
Some of the new infrastructures on that huge site are as well still under construction.
Mount Nebo is situated in western Jordan, near the city of Madaba, approximately 6 miles northwest of the Dead Sea. The place is mentioned in the Bible as the place where Moses, the prominent figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, stood and viewed the Promised Land before his death.
According to the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses was not allowed to enter the land but was granted a view of the landscape from Mount Nebo. The views are indeed breathtaking there, with views of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, and on clear days, the city of Jerusalem.
Mount Nebo has a rich historical significance beyond its biblical association. It has served as a pilgrimage site since the early Christian era, and various churches and monasteries have been built on its summit and slopes over the centuries. The modern Moses Memorial Church is the main religious structure on Mount Nebo today and houses several important mosaics.
You’ll find there as well the Gian Paolo Fantoni statue that represents the bronze serpent on a pole that Moses erected to protect his people from a poisonous snake that God had sent as a punishment.
Madaba is a city in Jordan known for its ancient mosaics, particularly the Madaba Map. The Madaba Map is a famous mosaic dating back to the 6th century AD, located on the floor of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Madaba.
It is the oldest surviving geographic floor mosaic in art history and depicts the Holy Land and other regions from Egypt to Palestine. The church has beautiful paintings as well
Madaba Archaeological Park (walking distance from St George church) is home to several archaeological sites, including the Church of the Virgin Mary, which features beautiful mosaic floors.
Located in the city center, the Madaba Museum showcases a collection of mosaics from different historical periods, providing insights into the artistry and history of mosaic-making in the region.
The art of mosaic-making has a long history in Madaba, and the city has preserved and celebrated this tradition through the restoration and display of these ancient artworks. There are as well many mosaics shops in the city.
Sitting on a ridge, looking over the Dead Sea below, this complex with an observation platform and a museum devoted to the Dead Sea is a great stop on your way to or from the Dead Sea shore itself.
For the best views, stretching across the sea to the dusky-hued hills of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, try to come here early in the morning. Later in the day, the western bank of the Dead Sea is often covered in haze.
The beautiful museum here documents very well the geology of the Dead Sea and this area’s importance throughout human history.
Machaerus is an ancient hilltop fortress located in Jordan, east of the Dead Sea. Machaerus was built by Herod the Great, a king of Judea, around the 1st century BC. Herod constructed several fortresses throughout his kingdom and Machaerus served as a military stronghold and palace.
According to the New Testament, John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed at Machaerus. Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, ordered John’s execution after a lavish banquet where Salome, Herod’s stepdaughter, danced for him.
The ruins of Machaerus showcase the strategic design and architectural elements of the fortress. The site includes remains of fortified walls, towers, residential buildings, a courtyard, cisterns, and a Roman-style bath complex. There is honestly however not a lot left there 😉…
…. But the panoramic views of the surrounding Dead Sea region and the Jordanian landscape are beautiful.
One of the main hot springs in Jordan is the Ma’in Hot Springs, in the Ma’in Valley, approximately 58 kilometers southwest of the capital city of Amman.
The hot springs in Ma’in are formed by geothermal activity, with the water being heated by underground lava streams. The temperature of the water ranges from warm to hot, and it is rich in minerals such as sulfur, calcium, and magnesium.
These natural hot springs are renowned for their therapeutic properties and have been used for centuries for their healing effects. The hot springs flow down a series of waterfalls and cascade into several pools, creating a picturesque and relaxing setting. The pools are arranged at different levels, allowing visitors to enjoy the warm waters in a tranquil environment.
The Ma’in Hot Springs area is home to resorts and spa facilities that offer thermal baths, massages, and mud wraps, allowing guests to indulge in relaxation and rejuvenation.
The Ma’in Valley is characterized by its beautiful landscapes, including rugged cliffs, lush vegetation, and cascading waterfalls.
The most beautiful fall is in front of the Ma’In Hotel and Spa. It is however not easy to photograph (as the access is closed) but you can find different interesting views
If you sleep there and are interested in travel photography, sunsets, and sunrise are clearly the most interesting times…
The falls are, as well, lighted at night for a different atmosphere.
Al-Karak Castle, also known as Kerak Castle is a historic fortress located in the city of Al-Karak in Jordan. It is one of the largest and most significant castles in the country, with a rich history dating back to the Crusader period.
Al-Karak Castle was originally built during the Crusader era in the 12th century. It served as a strategic stronghold for various powers throughout history, including the Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mamluks, and Ottomans. The castle’s location atop a hill provided a commanding view of the surrounding area.
Al-Karak Castle was built to withstand sieges and attacks. It has a series of defensive structures, including arrow slits, battlements, and a moat.
The castle is a remarkable example of Crusader military architecture. It features a complex layout with multiple fortified walls, towers, and gates, with both European and Islamic architectural elements.
The castle played a prominent role in the Crusader period and witnessed several battles and sieges. It was the center of power for the Crusader lord Reynald of Châtillon, known for his conflicts with Saladin.
The King’s Highway is an ancient trade route that stretches across Jordan, connecting various historical sites, cities, and landscapes. The King’s Highway has been used since ancient times as a major trade route connecting Egypt in the south with Mesopotamia and Syria in the north. It served as a vital artery for the transportation of goods, including spices, incense, textiles, and precious metals.
When you drive toward the Petra area, you’ll discover some views over the Petra mountains.
So, I hope that this post will engage you to visit the Dead Sea and its wonders 😊. If you’re interested in other parts of gorgeous Jordan, you can read my posts around.