Karak, The Dead Sea, and Madaba

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Middle East » Jordan » West » Madaba
October 20th 2016
Published: December 2nd 2017
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After a great 2 days of exploring the ruins at Petra, we headed off towards Madaba just outside of Amman. On our way to Madaba, we would have several stops to check out some additional sights of Jordan. The first stop was really just a quick roadside stop to stretch our legs. Our van pulled over the side of the road where Faisal explained that below us was the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the largest nature reserve in Jordan. However from our vantage point, it looked like a dry and deserted wasteland. After this quick 15 minute stop, we headed towards the town of Karak where we would visit it's castle. Perched on top of a hill with great views of the surrounding area, Karak Castle is a fortified castle from the era of the Crusades. Faisal took us around the castle showing us around the various darkened rooms that have not been very well maintained over the years. All in all, I didn't find anything spectacular with this castle. There were some great views of the surrounding area but that was it. From here, we all jumped back into the van and headed out for some pool time.

After our quick visit to Karak Castle, we made our way over to the shores of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the Earth. As we descended towards the Dead Sea, it was interesting to see how Mark's altimeter on his watch slowly drop to 0 then continue dropping into negative territory. We drove along the shores of the Dead Sea before eventually pulling into the Amman Tourist Beach Resort where we would enjoy some lunch before having some time to experience floating in the Dead Sea. We all enjoyed a delicious all you can eat buffet style lunch in the resort's cafeteria before making our way to the shores of the Dead Sea. At about 1,407 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the Earth's surface. With the high rates of evaporation and no outlet for any of the water, the waters of the Dead Sea are about 10 times more saline than the ocean. This high salinity level allows you to easily float on the surface of the water with ease. After lunch, Patrick and I were the first ones to make our way into the waters of the Dead Sea. Because of the high salinity, any small cut you have on your body will instantly start to sting. Sure enough, I started to feel 2 small cuts that I didn't even know that I had on my lower leg. As more of our group showed up, it was fun to wade in the water and float around on our backs. Since it was advised not to dunk our heads into the water, the novelty of floating on this water quickly wore off. Most of us went over to a nearby stand that was selling buckets of black mud that supposedly had skin rejeuvenating qualities. I purchased my bucket of mud and we all went around covering our skin in this mud. Once done, we all had our fun taking photos before washing most of it off in the Dead Sea. The remainder of the mud was washed off in the open showers and we all made our way back up to the resort to enjoy the rest of our time laying out in the sun and enjoying the swimming pool.

From the beach resort, we were all a bit tired from being in the sun for the past few hours but that wasn't to be our final stop of the day. We headed to Mt. Nebo just outside of Madaba, which is famous for where Moses allegedly had first seen the Promised Land. Driving up to the summit of the mountain, we parked and walked the rest of the way up to the Moses Memorial Church perched at the summit. The church is well known for it's Byzantine era mosaics inside but also because it was visited by Pope John Paul II back in 2000. Faisal had informed us that our timing was perfect as the church had been closed for almost 10 years for renovation and had just re-opened to visitors just last week. We all went inside and had a quick look around at the floor mosaics that the church is well known for. I had a quick look around before making my way back outside to enjoy the evening views of the surrounding area where you could see the Dead Sea and Israel off into the distance.

From Mt. Nebo, it was a short drive into the nearby city of Madaba, Faisal's hometown. We checked into the Hotel Mariam for our final hotel stay of the trip. After resting for a bit, Faisal lead us over to the main part of town where we enjoyed more Jordanian dishes at a nearby restaurant. Evening tonight was spent poolside where the entire group had gathered to enjoy some beers and the cool evening air after what was a long day of travelling.

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