The Dead Sea – En-gedi, Israel
A Mud Bath and a Good Soak for Whatever Ails You
Like a gondola ride in Venice or a camel ride at the Great Pyramids of Giza, a good bob in this famously buoyant body of water and a post-dip roll in the mud is the ultimate travel cliché – and, like many travel clichés, it is not to be missed.
At 1,305 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the face of the earth (Death Valley, in California, is America’s lowest point at 282 feet below sea level), and its waters contain the highest concentration of salt anywhere Join the tourists, grab a newspaper, and bob about like a human cork in – more specifically, on – waters with a salt concentration seven times greater than the Mediterranean’s. Dead Sea mud has been part of the Holy Land’s restorative and beauty regimen since the Queen of Sheba (Cleopatra was also known to come and take the cure).
The mineral-rich area and its hot springs have spawned a treasure trove of spa facilities in and around the shoreside kibbutz En-gedi, a florid green oasis on a hillside of red desert rock. For years, the kibbutz’s inn was the only place to stay, but more recent arrivals, such as the luxurious Hyatt Regency, now fill out the spectrum. The Hyatt’s supermodern spa treatments include facials and baths using mud, and rubdowns with Dead Sea salt crystals mixed with the scents of ancient oils.