The closed military area that includes the Land of the Monasteries, the historic Beit Ha’arava, the Abdullah Bridge and the Jordan River Estuary will be opened for the “Dead Sea Founders March” on the dates 3/3 4/3 10/3 11/3.
Dead Sea Founders March
After 1967, due to the infiltration of terrorists, the entire area between Qasr el Yahud and the Dead Sea was mined and closed. Recently, the area of the monasteries has been cleared of landmines, but for security and safety reasons, the area is still closed to visitors, except for certain cases in coordination with the army and of course, for the march. What can be seen during the march? I visited the area to see and to tell you about an exciting and fascinating tour:
The historic Beit Ha’arava – the Abdullah bridge that was exploded and next to it the graveyard of the settlement Beit Ha’arava that was abandoned. The place is very touching, especially with the Israeli flag flying over this desolate, abandoned place.
The Jordan River Estuary – a beautiful observation point on the windings of the Jordan as it descends to the Dead Sea. Today, the flow is only about 5% of what flowed here in the past. The Jordan river is dynamic and its course is constantly changing.
The Land of the Monasteries – a concentration of several monastery churches that were established in the area of the Qasr el Yahud baptism site that were evacuated in the early 1970s. After about 50 years, mines were cleared in the area of the churches but they were not repopulated (the area, as aforementioned, is closed) and they are still abandoned. Some are partially destroyed; some have gunshot and bomb marks. The march passes through the path between the churches and you can watch them closely but not enter (buildings are in danger of collapsing).
Taking part in the march requires pre-registration, for a nominal fee (you get a goody bag upon registration). On the march route, there will be food stands, activities and local guides. For details and registration: Dead Sea Founders March
When in the area, there are plenty of additional things to do:
The salt cakes – salt structures in the Genesis landscape of the Dead Sea at the estuary of Nahal Tamar. It is best to get there with a guided walking tour organized by the tourism company Dead Sea Bikes @deadseabike. The company also organizes independent and guided bike tours, training days and more. For details: Dead Sea Bikes.
Einot Tzukim – a tour of the hidden nature reserve of Einot Tzukim (also called Ein Feshkha). A guided tour of about an hour and a half which takes you along the thick vegetation, the clear pools and the lovely viewpoints that are otherwise closed to visitors. The tour takes place on Fridays and Saturdays (details on the Nature and Parks Authority website). The tour is free beyond the entrance fee to the site. No preregistration requires. Details at the Nature Reserves and Gardens Authority.
Where to sleep? A new hotel at Vered Yeriho, Sinai 48 boutique hotel apartments and suites is a newly opened place, designed at the highest level! In addition, it will soon have a private pool, a Jacuzzi and spa treatments. It is located 10 minutes drive from the Dead Sea and close to hiking trails. For orders: Sinai 48.
The Vered Yeriho agricultural farm – a petting zoo and a kosher meat restaurant that serves meals with salads, hamburgers, children’s dishes, and more. Groups and individuals who order in advance can have rich authentic dishes such as Makluba and Mansef. For details: the agricultural farm.
After the march and in general, you can dine at The Last Chance restaurant at Almog junction – a kosher restaurant with two separate kitchens – dairy and meaty. On Saturdays, in front of the restaurant, there is a pop-up of Jachnun and pita with Labaneh. Another option is Me Casa, a non-kosher Italian restaurant near the access road to Vered Yeriho. It is advisable to reserve a place in restaurants in advance.
A full photo tour of the above can be found on my Instagram.