On the way from Jericho to our next historical site, Masada, our eyes were dazzled by the most spectacular natural scenery. The area before us took many millions of years to form and, as only nature can produce, the beauty was overwhelming. Let’s start with the Jordan Rift Valley:
Forgive me if plate tectonics aren’t your thing – I’ll try to be brief. Tectonic plates are enormous slabs of rock that are in constant motion. They make up the earth’s crust and mantle. Earth’s plates are constantly moving – either diverging or transforming or converging boundaries. They create mountain ranges, earthquakes, volcanoes and rift valleys. These are what our earth’s tectonic plates look like:
The Jordan Rift Valley was formed during in the Miocene period (23.8 – 5.3 million years ago) when the Arabian Plate moved northward and then eastward away from Africa.
One million years later, the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan Rift Valley rose so that the sea water stopped flooding the area. The two plates pulled apart from one another and the Jordan Rift Valley was created.
The Dead Sea sits in what is referred to as the Jordan Valley rift system.
The Dead Sea’s salinity is almost at 34% and it is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. It is considered dead as only tiny quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi can live in it. Due to the density of this saltwater, it is almost impossible for a body to sink – more on that in a moment.
I had always thought that the Dead Sea was a sodden, murky body of water due to the salinity. Boy, was I wrong – it is vibrantly hued and its palette changes constantly based on the sun and clouds. These photos have not been altered:
And it is indeed hard to sink in it:
After a quick dip and a lovely lunch at a seaside spa resort, we continued on our way, deep into the Negev Desert. There are almost no words to describe what it is like – it is so vast, and varied in its own unique way:
And then we arrived at Masada.