Jordan’s Rift Valley is the home of the world-famous Dead Sea. Located just over 400 miles below sea level, the Dead Sea shore is the lowest land area on the planet.
The Dead Sea is fed by the River Jordan, but the water has no place to go and so it slowly evaporates, leaving deposits of salts and other minerals behind. The Dead Sea has a salinity level of 33.7%, according to Wikipedia. For comparison, the ocean has an average salinity level of 3.5%.
The Dead Sea is approximately 8.6 times as salty as seawater. Because of the high concentration of salt, if you go for a swim in the Dead Sea you will float like a cork!
With this much salt in the water, the Dead Sea is almost completely devoid of animal and plant life, the only exception being small amounts of certain types of bacteria.
The salt and other minerals in the water are also thought to be extremely healing to the skin and body. The Dead Sea has been used as a health resort since Biblical times, and of course there are many spas and health resorts along its shores today.
To visit Jordan and swim in the Dead Sea, you need your passport and a Jordan visa. In most cases, you can get a Jordan visa at the border, but if you are crossing in from the Allenby Bridge in Israel you definitely need to get one in advance. If you are entering Jordan from Israel or just prefer to have all your travel documents in your possession before you leave the US, you can also apply before you leave for your trip.
Fortunately, Jordan’s visa requirements are pretty simple. All you need is your US passport, 1 Jordan visa application form, and 1 passport-sized photo taken within the past 6 months.