Dead Sea Basin

A wet walk in a dry place

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While our group experienced the wonder of swimming in the Dead Sea, I headed in the opposite direction. The Wadi Boqeq Nature Reserve is hidden in a narrow canyon that drains the east side of the Wilderness of Judea. I waded upstream for maybe a kilometer at sunset. It was a wet hike with lots of small waterfalls, waterholes, boulders, birds, and lush vegetation.

Apart from a group of three that exited the canyon (near the ruins of a Roman/Byzantine fortress) as I entered, it was a solitary experience. The sound of splashing water and cooing doves kept me company. The shadows lengthened in the rose-colored canyon as the sun released its grip on the day.

Ironically, the modern name of the place in Hebrew is boqeq. The term refers to wasted or empty space (see Isaiah 24:1).

Flash flooding make desert wadis a dangerous place in the winter (as Job 6:15 suggests) but in the summertime they are cool havens for life in an otherwise inhospitable desert.


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The view from our hotel window at Ein Boqeq is hardly desolate. The contrast between the swim area in the Dead Sea and the hotel spa and pool could not be stronger.

If you are interested in experiencing the desert stretches of the biblical Heartland for yourself, consider joining us in the future. We have open seats for several trips in 2020 and 2021. We are booking new groups for 2022. Shoot me a note at markziese@gmail.com or see our full list of study-travel opportunities here.

About here somewhere

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Bible Land Explorers Joy and Sonia help me fix our location.

The summer haze makes flying by visual flight rules (VFR) difficult. The map helps. We are standing on top of the Masada mesa with the Dead Sea Basin hiding behind us (you'll just have to take my word for it).

The site of Masada plays a rich role in the history of the region. Herod the Great (the "Baby-killer" of the Christmas story) built a wondrous fortress-palace here. 

Joy and Sonia are part of a study-group from the Cumberland Community Church in Smyrna, Georgia.


Intrepid travelers who desire a more intimate view to the landscape of the gospels should consider walking across Galilee on the Jesus Trail, January 8-16, 2019. Vehicle support is provided and will return the group each night to the hotel. Contact me directly at markziese@gmail.com if interested. The trip is priced from New York at $2,588. See itinerary here.