Mount Nebo | Wadi Mujib | Dead Sea

CONTINUED FROM: Jerash | Ajloun | Umm Quais

Backpacking Jordan: Day 006 (20-April-2024)

Floating away in the Dead Sea

We had planned to leave early next morning. Jose had done a lot of research and planning fo this trip before arriving. He informed me that we would stop at Mount Nebo first. I was not aware of the significance of the place until I got there. So, at around 6:30AM, we left Jerash and headed towards Mount Nebo. we made a quick stop by the highway for a wrap. We also stopped for a fuel refill. Petrol price in Jordan at .90 JD is very expensive. The country, with limited natural resources, imports more than 90% of its energy needs. 

The road to Mount Nebo passed through some offbeat locations - through fields and small towns.

Jose gave me some details about Mt Nebo and I read up a little on the internet before reaching there. 

"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, sayin, "I will give it to your descendants." - Bible Gatewa Exodus 33::NIV

After the 10 plagues, Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they based themselves at Mount Sinai where Moses received the ten commandments. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died on Mount Nebo at the age of 120, within sight of the Promised land (Israel). 

Today, a memorial church of Moses stands atop the hill. At the viewpoint from where one can see Jerusalem, is the sculpture of the brazen serpent, created by Italian artist Giovanni Fantoni. 

"Then the Lord said to Moses - 'Make a snake image and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.' So Moses made bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered." 

There were not many visitors at Mount Nebo. Outside, there was a tanker with some army men standing guard. We had to buy a 3JD ticket as this sight is not covered in the Jordan pass. 

Standing at the viewpoint and looking at the vast deserts lying below, I tried to imagine Moses’s son Joshua leading the Israelites to the other side. 

We next drove to Dead Sea. The landscape soon turned arid. There was no sign of greenery as we descended the hill.

We headed directly to Wadi Mujib. At Wadi Mujib visitor centre, we bought tickets for Siq/Sig trail It is a self-guided trail where in you walk along the river that cuts across the canyon. The trail is approximately 2km one way. The men at the counter included the waterproof pouch for 10JD. When I told him that I already had one, he seemed disappointed. We had sandals too from Hostel (Thanks to Abed). So that saved us a lot of money on rentals. The ticket itself was 23JD per head. 

I was a bit worried if I would require to swim at any point. We met some boys at the parking lot who told me that the experience was great and I might be underwater, up to my neck at one or two points, but they assured me that overall, it is fun and not scary at all. That was reassuring. 

At the restroom, we changed our clothes and wore a life jacket. We set out on the trail almost immediately. I think this was one of the best experiences of my life. I do not want to dilute this experience with some limited words. So, I shall post some pictures here to offer you a glimpse of this adventure.  

Thankfully the rocks were not slippery. Where the climb was difficult because of the raging water, chains, ropes and ladders were attached to aid us. The sunlight struggled to enter the gap between long canyon walls. The contours formed along the walls of the canyons were impressive. The pattern on the rocks resembled  a carefully painted abstract art. 

At the end of the trail is a waterfall. I met a Christian family who are basically from Jordan but now live in Germany. The old man and his wife were accompanied by their son and daughter. He suggested me to visit a few places to see in Jordan. I took some pictures and videos for them at the waterfall. After they left, we were the only two there for some time. It was a magical sight as the water droplet from the falls glittered due to the sun rays. 

There were two local men who offer to tag along with the tourists if required. One of them accompanied a couple. The guide took the man directly to the back of the waterfall. I would have loved to go there myself but considering my shoulder dislocation, I chose to stay back and enjoy my time in the water. With the life jacket, I could stay afloat.

We headed back to the visitor centre, changed clothes and headed out. With the intention to eat lunch before heading to the hotel, we drove to a nearby mall. However, we found no good vegetarian option there. As a result, we decided to try the restaurant at the resort. Oh Beach resort seems to be newly built. The reception has a photo of the Royal family. The Jordanians are obsessed with their King and his family. Many shops have a family picture of King Abdullah II, his wife, his two sons and two daughters. 

We checked in to our room with a view of the Dead Sea. Famished as we were, we headed to the restaurant to have lunch. The restaurant has a good view of the Dead Sea and Israel on the other side. 

Along the Dead Sea, there are no towns. The nearest towns are not by the sea and you will need a transport to reach there. So, the only option to stay by Dead Sea is to book a night at one of the hotels or resorts. We got a good deal for 63JD. There were only about 10 visitors so, seems like everyone here is struggling to get the business running. The resort itself is huge and is perhaps built to house hundreds of visitors at a time. As an alternative, many resorts offer a Day use package. You can pay 20JD and use the swimming pool, the private beach and the showers. 

The other option is to go to the free beaches. However, it would be difficult to find a shower there. There might be some shacks run by the locals where you might find a good deal. Again, I am not sure of the shower which is a must as you will be floating in the saline waters of the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea's surface is 430 metres below sea level, making its shores the lowest land-based elevation on Earth. It is the deepest hyper saline lake in the world. The sea is called "dead" because its high salinity prevents macroscopic aquatic organisms, such as fish and aquatic plants, from living in it. Our body floats in Dead Sea because it has a high concentration of dissolved salt. As a result, water is dense and our body feels lighter and floats. With a mineral content that is ten times higher than any other ocean or sea, the Dead Sea is known for its healing powers. 

A group of young Jordanian boys were at the beach on a Day use package. One of the boys helped me apply the clay and explained to me its benefits. He spoke in Arabic, but I understood what he was saying – Essentially, the clay has medicinal qualities, I had to apply it all over my body and let it dry before taking a shower. I covered my entire body in the clay. From head to toe, I appeared dark grey in colour. After the shower, it felt refreshing. The face felt smooth and clear. 

One of the boys made some snapchat videos with us speaking in Arabic. He wanted Jose and I to repeat what he was saying. I hope I did not say something wrong. But his friend who spoke some English told me that I was telling his name. 

Floating in the sea was a beautiful feeling. I stayed there for some time. Apart from us, there was a couple from the US. 

I went back to the room, freshen-up and headed back to the beach to watch the sunset. It was one of the best sunsets I have watched. The sun did not turn orange or even bright yellow. It remained mostly white or may be cream in colour. The shimmering sea below seemed like an impressionist painting.  I collected some salt to be carried back home.  

We had dinner at the restaurant – Petra beer, French fries and Sambousek – which is basically a Samosa, but with plain cheese filling. Our Indian Samosa is inspired by this middle-eastern dish. 

After dinner, we headed back to our room. A good sleep awaited me. I think I slept the best that night – undisturbed until morning. 

Jordan Roadtrip Day 02:  Jerash -> Mt Nebo -> Wadi Mujib -> Dead Sea (155KM)

To Be Continued...