No trip to Israel is complete without a visit to the Dead Sea, a true wonder of nature! Before you go, there are a few interesting things you should know about this incredible place.

Essential Facts

  • The Dead Sea sits at 1,388 feet below sea level, making it the lowest point on earth!
  • The high salt concentration means that people can easily float on the sea’s surface. Just lean back and relax on the sea with a book or newspaper, no effort required.

The Dead Sea of Israel - Mazada Tours

  • Due to the high salt content, there are no animals or sea life to be found in sea, and that is why it is called the “Dead” Sea.
  • Even though it’s called a sea, it’s actually a hypersaline lake.
  • The water is almost 10 times saltier than ocean water, so don’t get it in your mouth or eyes!
  • Water flows into the Dead Sea from the Jordan River, but no water ever flows out of the sea.
  • The Dead Sea is disappearing at an alarming rate. In 1930, the sea’s surface was 1050 km2 and now it is around 600km2. Some experts say that unless drastic measures are taken to preserve what is left of this natural wonder, the sea could disappear in our lifetime.

Health Benefits

  • The water of is very high in minerals, and therefore it has become a major centre for health research and treatment.
  • The salt from the sea is very bitter, but it has a variety of skincare benefits. The salt and minerals from the sea can treat psoriasis, cellulite, acne, hives, and many other skin ailments.

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  • The mud that comes from the seabed surrounding the Dead Sea is also great for your skin. For an amazing natural spa experience, spread the mud all over your body and bathe in the sea. You’ll walk out feeling like a baby!
  • The air around the Dead Sea is healthy too! It is low in pollen and allergens, making it the perfect location for those with asthma.

The Dead Sea in History

  • Asphalt naturally rises to the surface of the water, and this asphalt used to be used by ancient Egyptians in the mummification process.

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  • It was one of the world’s first health resorts, built for King Herod the Great.
  • Historically, the Dead Sea was one of Cleopatra’s favorite places. She even ordered resorts and cosmetic factories be built along the shores.
  • The Dead Sea is over 3 million years old!

About the Area

  • The Dead Sea is at the lowest point of the Great Rift Valley, which passes through 20 countries and extends almost 4000 miles.
  • Hungry? On the way to the Dead Sea, you’ll be surrounded by date palms, 618 acres to be exact.

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  • The weather there remains warm all year round, and annual rainfall in the region is less than 50 millimeters.
  • Highway 90 is the world’s lowest road and it runs along the Israeli and West Bank shores of the sea.
  • Since the Dead Sea is located at such a low point, the sun’s UV rays are weaker in this region, making it harder to burn. So float on without worrying too much about those harmful UVs!

You've got the facts, now are you ready for the experience? Book our Relaxation day tour, or if you're pressed for time combine your Dead Sea tour with a visit to Jerusalem or Masada.

One of the best parts about traveling is sampling the unique international flavours of a new destination. For this, Israel does not disappoint. Though most Israelis can’t agree on what dish is the most Israeli, everyone can definitely agree on one thing: you won’t leave this country hungry.

Unsure where to begin your culinary journey through Israel? Here are the top ‘must-eats’ from around the country.

shutterstock_554684854Pita

There is nothing that Israeli’s won’t put inside a pita. Unlike it’s Middle Eastern cousins, the Israeli pita bread isn’t thin or large. An Israeli pita is round and usually opened like a pocket and then stuffed with more staple Israeli foods. The pita bread might just be the foundation of Israeli food – it’s versatility allows it to be featured during any meal of the day, and it pairs beautifully with almost any other food on this list. Dip it, rip it, or eat it plain, but pita is unavoidable when visiting Israel.

 

HummusIMG_9638

Over the past few years hummus has become a trendy food that everyone loves. Though you can find endless variations of hummus in virtually any grocery store around the world, there is nothing better than the original. Israeli hummus is made up of a few simple ingredients blended together, but the real magic happens when it is served hot on a plate topped with foods like sautéed mushrooms, lemon juice, more chickpeas, spices, fava beans, or eggplant, among others. It is meant to be eaten as a main dish, and scooped up with raw onions or pita bread. Just make sure you have some napkins handy.

 

shutterstock_449954362Falafel

Many Middle Eastern countries have falafel as a menu staple. This fried ball of chickpeas is a sure crowdpleaser. It can be eaten on a plate accompanied by salads, hummus, pita, and potatoes, or if you’re after the classic, eat it stuffed into a pita and accompanied by chopped salad, pickled vegetables, and a generous drizzle of tahini.

 

Sabichshutterstock_713742022

What seems like a random assortment of foods stuffed into a pita is actually a delicious sandwich loved by Israelis. Like falafel, a pita is stuffed with fried eggplant, boiled sliced egg, salad, hummus, and tahini. If you’re feeling brave, you can opt for adding amba, a pickled mango sauce with Iraqi origins that adds spice and tang to any food.

 

shutterstock_517530268Shawarma

Though much of Israeli cuisine is veggie-friendly, the noticeable standout is Shawarma. You can’t miss the shops that sell shawarma on the streets of Israel; you’ll notice them first by the scent and second by the huge hunk of meat being grilled on a rotating spit. The meat is shaved and can be served as a plated dish and accompanied by other foods, or in true Israeli fashion: in a pita.

 

ShakshukaIMG_7074

You’ll probably spend more time trying to learn how to pronounce the name of this food than you will devouring it. Shakshouka is a traditional Arab and Israel breakfast dish cooked and served in a large cast iron pan. It consists of eggs poached in a flavourful spiced tomatoes sauce. It isn’t unusual to add other ingredients to the mix, like eggplant, artichoke hearts, or salty crumbled cheeses.

Jachnun

Another breakfast staple, Jachnun is a Yemenite shutterstock_749013946import and classic Saturday morning food. It is prepared by rolling out puff dough very thinly, and then adding butter to every layer as it is rolled into a cylinder. Then, it is left to cook overnight. By the time it is ready to eat, it is a light brown colour and tastes sweet and flaky. It is traditionally served with a boiled egg and skhug – a sauce made of crushed tomatoes.

 

Knafeh

shutterstock_320812586A traditional Palestinian-Arabic pastry soaked in sugar and syrup and stuffed with cheese. It is tinted orange and garnished with rose water and crushed pistachio. You can often find it in the shouks – or markets around the country. The texture is unique, as the pastry is made up of long thin noodle that add an amazing crunch.

 

Sabra

Israel’s climate allows it toshutterstock_356552303 grow a large variety of produce, but none more iconic to the region that the Sabra, also called cactus fruit or prickly pear. The fruit is very popular in Israel, and in fact, the fruit has taken on a national identity, as Israelis are often referred to as Sabras (some say it’s because they seem prickly on the outside but are soft and sweet on the inside).

 

Israeli SaladsIMG_8001

Unlike the salads you have come to know and love, Israeli salads don’t normally start with a bowl of leafy greens. In fact, there are many of type of Israeli salads, some are cooked, some raw, some are spicy and some are sweet, but all are delicious. Baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant dip), cooked beets, chopped tomato and cucumber, tabbouleh, or cooked spicy carrots are only a few examples of what you might get. It is normal for there to be a spread of dozens of small salad plates at the table with any meal for you to pick on before or with your main.

Pressed for time and still want to sample all these mouthwatering foods? Contact us for help organizing a culinary tour!