A tree seemingly growing out of a pristine white salt island in the heart of the Dead Sea isn’t something you’d expect to see when visiting the world’s saltiest body of water, and yet that’s exactly the sight you’re treated to near the beach of Ein Bokek.

With a salt concentration over 10 times that of the ocean, the Dead Sea is incapable of sustaining any plant or animal life, so come there’s a tree growing there, and on an island made of salt, of all places? Within swimming distance of the beach in Ein Bokek, an Israeli resort near Arad, lies the iconic Dead Sea Salt Island, a surreal natural formation made of dazzling white salt and surrounded by turquoise water. At its center are a pool of shallow, inviting water, and a tree that has no place being there. And yet…

The tree of the Dead Sea is such an amazing sight that I’m surprised it hasn’t received more attention on Instagram and other travel-oriented social networks. Seeing a living thing surviving, thriving even, in the middle of a body of water famous for its inability to sustain life is quite surreal, even though everything isn’t quite as it seems.

Even though a close inspection of the tree will reveal buds on the branches and roots stretching into the salty crust of the island, it doesn’t mean that the tree sprouted and grew there. It was a local artist who brought and “planted” it on the salt island as an original art installation. Apparently, he has been visiting the tree every day, putting mud around its base to ensure that it gets all the nutrients needed to survive in this extremely harsh environment.

The Dead Sea itself is dying, with the shoreline encroaching on the water every year, and maybe the so-called “tree of life” is a metaphor for that, or maybe having something grow in the middle of the Dead Sea is the metaphor. No one really knows for sure, but then again , no one really cares. The tree exists, and it makes a great prop for Instagrammable photos…

So if you ever find yourself visiting the Dead Sea, and pass by Ein Bokek, make sure to check out the tree of life and the beautiful sea island it “grows” on.

 

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