The Dead Sea, called the Salt Sea in the Bible, is the lowest place on earth. It lies 1,310 feet below sea level in the Great Rift Valley. Jerusalem's elevation is 2,400 feet above sea level, so there is a difference of 3,710 feet. You can see the Dead Sea from some places just outside Jerusalem. The descent is extremely steep.
Dead Sea water is 30% salt. That's eight times saltier than the ocean. Although the sea is drying up in the south, it is as deep as 1,376 feet in the north.
You can't exactly "swim" in the Dead Sea. You float on it like a cork. (See me in the photo.) We saw a man try to dive in and he practically bounced. You can stand up straight and "walk" in the water (though not on it). It is wonderfully warm and relaxing. There are many health spas in the area. The water and even the mud are believed by some to have healing power. The air contains 15% more oxygen than air at sea level so it's a natural version of a hyperbaric chamber.
The water doesn't really taste like salt. That's because several kinds of salt in addition to table salt are dissolved in it. It tastes bitter and feels smooth, like oil or hand lotion. After you go "swimming" it takes a great deal of fresh water to wash off all the salt. I brought back a bottle of Dead Sea water to share with my students and others. (Other "souvenirs" from the trip include frankincense and myrrh.)
Go on to read about Masada
Source: www.SusanCAnthony.com, ©Susan C. Anthony