While Ein Bokek is now best known for its Dead Sea Hotels and Spas, the surrounding region also has a fascinating historical and archaeological legacy. It is well worth investigating, particularly as there is not a lot to occupy you in Ein Bokek which is essentially a strip of hotels with a few added facilities. There are shopping malls, fat food outlets, including a McDonalds, souvenir shops and shops selling Dead Sea products. If that’s your thing, fair enough but in my humble opinion much of it is tacky.
Of course if the aim of your visit is to take advantage of the amazing Dead Sea and all its medicinal properties then Ein Bokek is probably a good place to be.
Do You Want History, Archaeology or Stunning Desert Scenery?
The Ein Bokek hotels and spas are only around 90 minutes drive to the Old City of Jerusalem if you are taking the bus it’s a little longer. Of course there is so much to do there it’s impossible to list it all. You just cannot visit Israel and not visit Jerusalem. Put aside the politics if you can (it is hard) and you will enjoy the Jerusalem experience more.
Ein Bokek lies close to the caves of West Bank Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. I loved Qumran, stark, wild and evocative, a total contrast to the Dead Sea. The site is only a few miles south of Jericho, perhaps the oldest inhabited city in the world. Again Jericho is in West Bank Palestine, I found it a relaxed and enjoyable place to visit. If archaeology is your thing you can visit some of the old city remains excavated by the well-known British archaeologist, Kathleen Kenyon.
Within easy reach are the remains of Hisham’s Palace an 8th century Umayyad site and if you’re looking for something spectacular there is the precariously perched (on a cliff face) Monastery of Temptation. Of course you cannot visit Israel without exploring the towering fortress of Masada, one of the country’s most popular visitor sites.
However, for those interested in the region’s history there is much more, including some less well-known sites:, Nahal Hever where ancient scrolls were found close to the remains of some of the Bar Kochba fighters and the oasis settlement of Ein Gedi home to a 4th millennium BCE Chalcolithic temple and the Biblical village of Tel Goren.
Despite the region’s rich historical legacy it’s undoubtedly the medicinal properties of the Dead Sea and the benefits of the region’s unique climate that draws thousands of visitors to the many hotels and guest houses that litter the area.
For this article I wanted to briefly look at one hotel in particular, the Hod Hamidbar Resort and Spa, operated by Orchid Hotel Management. I picked the Hod for no other reason than I liked their description of the beach (which gained a little in translation).
The hotel, in keeping with its four star status, offers a range of services: comfortable clean rooms, good food and attentive staff are important as is its health club with sulphur pools, heated Dead Sea water pools and a range of Dead Sea mud treatments, to name only a few.
However while these are important, for most people the attraction is, “A magnificently beautiful beach adjacent to the hotel, just steps, enables easy comfortable access to a relaxing bathing experience in the Dead Sea… Bathing in the mineral rich Dead Sea is most certainly the utmost for a perfect healthy feeling.” More about the Hod Hamidbar hotel.
Dead Sea Clinic for the Treatment of Psoriasis
Within the Ein Bokek area is the Dead Sea Clinic a facility that offers a range of traditional methods of Dead Sea healing, coupled with modern medical practice, it offers over 100 types of healing and restoring procedures, including” balneological therapy, thalassotherapy and aroma therapy. But its ‘speciality’ is the treatment of psoriasis.
My own abiding memory of the Salty Sea was the ubiquitous, black smelly Dead Sea mud. The Clinic makes good use of it. “Therapeutic mud from the Dead Sea has numerous therapeutic and cosmetic properties.
“The mud normalizes all main skin functions: cleans it, absorbs excess skin fat, removes dead cells from skin surface, and cleans pores from sebaceous secretion… The mud from the Dead Sea makes a healing influence upon ill skin – psoriasis, eczema…” More about the Dead Sea Clinic.
As this post is now twice the size I had intended I will end with a very brief summary. While the Dead Sea is an amazing place and Ein Bokek has much to offer, Israel is a small country, crammed with history, and it’s simple to get around so why not take the opportunity while you are there. It’s also easier to visit the West Bank than you think.