A true Wonder of Nature
No matter what anyone says, the Dead Sea is, and always has been a true wonder of nature. In the very short time I spent there, I was amazed at the sense of tranquility I felt. Perhaps it was the amazing sensation of floating in the water. No matter how hard you try to sink, it is just not possible! How utterly unique, how incredibly peaceful it is to just float there and feel like all the troubles of the world are being washed away, if even for a brief time. Perhaps it is the fact that the Dead Sea is at the lowest point on earth at 423 metres (1,388 ft) below sea level. Or is it that the oxygen levels are much higher in the area due to the high barometric pressure?
Whatever the reason or reasons, I was moved. I can see why for centuries the Dead Sea has been a health retreat, spa area, and the provider of some incredible health and beauty products.
Wondering about the 7 Wonders
I’m sure that you’re asking yourselves, controversy? What controversy? So was I when I first read about this after A fellow travel blogger brought the matter to my attention. Michael Hodson (who I had the pleasure of meeting in Jordan) wrote about the New 7 Wonders racket and the alleged shakedown of certain countries who had locations in the running.
The New 7 Natural Wonders idea sounds like a romantic good way to help showcase some of the world’s most naturally beautiful or incredible places. It sure sounds good in principle, until you see exactly how the competition was run. One of the first questions that should be answered is who was organizing this? Does the New 7 Wonders foundation have any credibility? There is precious little information on their website about who they are, other than the founder. I’d like to know who legitimized this organization to be the authority on the subject of who should be nominated for such a prestigious sounding honour. Even Cape Town’e former mayor Gordon Oliver has been quoted as saying: “What authority does this organisation have to determine a natural wonder as a finalist? It’s important that our authorities get the credentials of such organisations who set themselves up as the authority to decide the prominence of natural features.”
Fees between $199 – $35,000,000… WTF?
According to the Guardian newspaper in London, the New 7 Wonders Foundation requested from Indonesia, fees of ten million dollars for licensing and thirty five million dollars for hosting the closing ceremonies. The Guardian also goes on to mention that the Maldives were threatening to withdraw from the competition after getting a request for a half million dollars in unmentioned fees. That’s a pretty hefty price hike from the initial $199.00 fee to participate.
According to the Jakarta Globe the Indonesian government was considering suing the New 7 Wonders Foundation after they attempted to ‘force’ Indonesia to host the announcement of the New7Wonders.”
We have to keep in mind that this competition has gained world wide legitimacy (for no good reason) and could potentially mean millions of dollars to the 7 winners in the form of tourism revenue. The issue I have is with the foundation and it’s lack of transparency. Without divulging the number of votes, it is difficult for me to accept the final results. To be honest, I have never understood the idea of lists like this and the importance people seem to put on them. Amazing places are amazing places and the idea of what is amazing is totally subjective. I’ve been to only a few of the 28 selections from which the the final 7 were chosen and I’m totally biased in favour of those places that I have seen. That is normal and I would expect that people from Jordan would vote for the Dead Sea and that people from the other countries that had nominated locations would vote for those places. This is the least democratic or scientific way of selecting a “World Wonder”. Isn’t this why we have UNESCO World Heritage Sites?
Having a competition like this that allows multiple votes by a single individual has all the legitimacy of American Idol in my opinion.
Vote early, Vote often!
Voting could be done for free online or by sms, and there were absolutely no restrictions on how many times a person could vote. Seems a bit shady to me. Even though the New 7 Wonders Foundation tries to imply that they are sanctioned by the United Nations, the United Nations would beg to differ it would seem.
From the New 7 Wonders site:
“The United Nations Office for Partnerships and the New7Wonders Foundation share common goals and visions, aiming to engage civil society in finding creative solutions to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.
World Votes for New Seven Wonders
The UN Office for Partnerships serves as a gateway for partnership opportunities with the United Nations family. It promotes new collaborations and alliances with foundations, corporations and civil society in furtherance of the Millennium Development Goals and provides support to new initiatives of the UN Secretary-General.
The New7Wonders campaigns aim to contribute to the process of uplifting the well-being and mutual respect of citizens around the world, through encouraging interaction, expression of opinion and direct participation by voting and polling on popular themes and global issues which are understandable to everyone.”
From UNESCO’s site:
“There is no comparison between Mr Weber’s mediatised campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List*. The list of the “7 New Wonders of the World” will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the internet and not the entire world. This initiative cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected by this public.”
Winners and Losers
Let’s take a look at who the final seven winners are and who missed the boat. You decide for yourself if this list makes any sense at all.
And the Winners are
- Table Mountain – South Africa
- Iguazu Falls – Argentina/Brazil
- The Amazon – 9 South American countries
- Halong Bay – Vietnam
- Jeju Island – South Korea
- Komodo – Indonesia
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River – Philippines
- The Grand Canyon
- The Dead Sea
- Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
- Galápagos Islands
- The Maldives
- Milford Sound
- The Bay of Fundy
Table Mountain vote a cash cow
The Jakarta Post:
Komodo faces disqualification in new wonders over violation
Komodo may be off 7Wonders list after RI nixes payment
The Jakarta Globe:
Indonesia Under ‘Attack’ by New7Wonders Foundation: Tourism Ministry
New7Wonders Takes Aim at Diplomat in Long-Running Spat
Minivan News (Maldives Newspaper):
Maldives withdraws from New7Wonders campaign after surprise US$500,000 bill
Competition for seven wonders of natural world runs into trouble
And the seven natural wonders of the world are…
Extortion charges mar new ‘world wonders’ vote
Take a look at this video for more examples of why this whole competition was a joke and a money making scheme for the owners of the shady New 7 Wonders Foundation.HALONG BAY 7 WONDERS SCAM – Vịnh Hạ Long cheating in voting
Finally, let’s talk about the Dead Sea!
There is no need to label the Dead Sea as a ‘World Wonder’ in my opinion. Ask anyone who has been fortunate enough to visit this magical place, and they will tell you a story or two about how it affected them in a positive way. Every time I think about my experiences at the Dead Sea, a smile creeps onto my face, as I begin to day dream of returning there one day for an extended stay. The sights, smells, and sounds or lack thereof, all add up to making the Dead Sea a truly memorable place.
As I was taking these last photos at dusk, a spectacular hazy magenta light drifted over the the surface of the water. I knew I had just a brief moment to capture a few images before I’d lose this magic illumination, so I decided to stay in this one area with the salt covered rocks. On the opposite side of the great salt lake you could just barely see the glimmering lights in Palestine as they twinkled on and off. I was alone with my thoughts, my thoughts and a whole bunch of what I assumed were mosquitoes. Even here at the shores of the Dead Sea, where no animals can live due to the inhospitable nature of the salty environment, these little bloodsuckers seem to have found me once again. It was a small price to pay to have such an awe inspiring place to myself. Feeling like I could have just walked back in time 2000 years, I took a moment to contemplate the history of the ground I was standing on.
There are certain magical moments that I experience when I travel and Jordan had it’s fair share of those. The Dead Sea was special to me and stood out as the highlight of my trip. For some undefinable reason, I felt at peace here, a deep peace that eludes me here in at home in Montreal. While I’ve been to some extraordinarily beautiful natural settings in Europe, North America, and Australia, the Dead Sea will forever be a unique memory for me. If you ever do have the opportunity to visit the Dead Sea, I suggest that you make an effort to go to the water both at dawn and dusk. Floating in the Dead Sea at sunrise with not a soul in sight was one of the most serene moments in my life and capturing these images as the sun set was another high point of my trip to Jordan.
Forget about the labels, the lists, the competitions. Visit a place because it moves you to visit it, because you’re captivated by the magic and drawn to it for its natural beauty or historic significance. If you want to know more about a place that you’re curious about, read about it, ask people who have already been to that place and trust them over some phone in competition and a worthless and baseless top 7 list. If in doubt, ask a travel blogger who you trust, especially if they have visited a place that you have questions about. Believe me, they are a friendly bunch who LOVE to talk about travel, this is their passion (and mine). If they don’t know about a place, they will likely have a friend who also writes a travel blog that they can point you to. Personally, I can tell you that the Dead Sea will always be on my list of natural wonders and I can’t recommend it enough.
Travel for the sake of discovery and make your own lists. Those are the ones that count in life.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
– Miriam Beard
My gratitude to the team at Royal Jordanian for getting me to Jordan in style!
Flying Crown Class is a little slice of heaven… Thanks RJ!
Carlos Garcia says
Thank you for these images. I am going to Israel next year!!! I will take pictures of the Dead Sea and share my impressions with you. Great blog! Carlos
Red Hunt says
Amazing pics Ken, love the colours! Of all the finalists that were wonders the Dead Sea intrigues me most. I would have been baffled at some of the winners had I not known about the sketchy practices of the organization running the competition. It’s a shame really.
Lisa Wood says
I voted in that competition of 7 wonders and wondered how it all worked…I voted for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef!! That so rocks, and I cant believe its not in the top 7.
Love your photos…showed my four boys and they were amazed, at the photos and all of the information about the Dead sea.
Thanks for sharing.
I’m aware that Jordan preferred to encourage promotion of Petra and the Dead Sea is controversial because one can swim from Jordan to Israel. As for the lights of Palestine well last I heard the Dead sea was part of Israel since the days of Lot and the Bible and I don’t see how the area on the other side of Jordan is under anything but Israeli sovereignity. Yes the Israelis allow people to travel from King Hussein Bridge and cross over not far away from the Dead Sea but the lights of Israel are viewed from Jordan. You point regarding the Indonesian influence is rather interesting and seeing as you are so in awe of the Sea I look forward to meeting you in Ein Bokek or Ein Fashka and check out Ahava by Ein Gedi on the otherside to see the lights of Israel from close up…
Siddhartha Joshi says
Very well said indeed Ken! I also do not believe in these lists…
Never been to the Dead Sea, but an uncle recently visited it for a conference. However, all he talked about was his experience of the Dead Sea…I loved every word he said, and was jealous at the same time…
sameer kattan says
We lost the battle but we have not lost the war –
Your blog made me smile a lot today :) <- bigger smile than it seems…
it's a lovely combo of amazing pictures, controversy, good info, great advice, and a whole lot of Ken's personality. Love it!!!!
Great post, Ken. You may be a photographer at heart but you certainly have a way with words. It’s so true what you said about the need to “forget the labels, the lists, the competitions”. Oh, and I also love the photos too :)
I’m staggered to see the Grand Canyon omitted. It’s by far the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. The list as a whole looks skewed. What a shame.
I can’t believe Puerto Princesa Subterranean River made it! I’m just glad that it really did make it. Is the list really the new official 7 wonders?
Kris Koeller says
Beautiful photos. I’ve long felt those 7 Wonders organizations are a big scam. UNESCO World Heritage is good enough for me, and who cares if there’s hundreds of them.
the whole thing is ridiculous. Why should people care about such a list anyway?
Ken Kaminesky says
Carlos, you will love the Dead Sea! Try to get to Jordan to see Petra while you’re there.
Red, It truly is a shame isn’t it?
Lisa, so glad you and the family enjoyed the post. Come back again soon :D
Siddhartha, you should be jealous! You should also plan a trip to Jordan to visit this magical place. Trust me, you’ll love it!
Gaby, thank you so much. You rock, but you already knew that right? :D
Anis, Yup, it’s time to forget lists and labels. Or at least not take them so seriously that people are forced to lie, cheat and be devious in order to get on these lists. It’s tragic that this whole 7 Wonders thing is taken so seriously and has appears to be “legitimate”.
George, Now I have to visit the Grand Canyon!
Dylan, the list is a total sham. Read the article again and watch the video. The list is meaningless.
Kris, Agreed! UNESCO World Heritage sites are the way to go.
art lover says
I am a little late with my comments but I just had to say , “I like your spunk!” er I mean “You are a man of mettle.”
Angela B. Pan says
Loved all the pics. I’ve always wanted to go to the Dead Sea
I had heard about some controversy but didn’t reallyinvestigate about what! But your post helped me understand the situation! I don’t really think you can classify the wonders of the world in a list of 7-10 or even 20! This world has too many wonders!
Hey! You have beautiful photos of this wonderful DEAD SEA. I also like what you wrote. However, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in the Philippines is unfortunately it is my country so I am happy. Dead Sea is such a beautiful place and I’d like to see this rather than Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.
douglas maclachlan says
some of the best photos i have ever seen.
maher hamze says
yeah it is shame to have a pathetic list…i mean the most natural and beautiful places havent made it to the final cut…like US’s grand canyon, Aussie’s great barrier reef, maldives islands, new zealand’s milford sound and my favorite lebanon’s jeita grotto…before they announced the results…5 days ago…they revealed the top 10 finalists…dead sea, jeita grotto, grand canyon and great barrier reef were in the top 10 and they have been replaced by those unknown shits i mean sites!!! So unfair!!
What a stunning collection of images. Just beautiful. Many have a moonlight feel to them.
I’m a Filipino and a mighty proud one at that. But I have to say, ‘I knew it’. My friends and I did not bother to vote because we had an idea it was/is a scam. But we are a proud people (with misplaced pride sometimes, but don’t we all?) and my countrymen are bound to ‘support’ anything, ANYTHING that might just put us on the map. So I will try very hard not to see this as a source of embarrassment for us.
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is reportedly beautiful (I wouldn’t know, I have a deathly fear of caves) but the fact that the ones you listed are not there did make it all suspicious. Thank you for this well-researched piece that rightly focuses on the seedy organization rather than on the countries that were unfairly lured into the scam.
so only arrogant Westerner backpackers can decide which sites should be considered Natural Wonders, and not those masses who voted for their country’s entries?
To come up with a list of just the 7 world wonders is a difficult task. I don’t agree with how the new “7 world wonders,” were selected. To me world wonders are places as you put it,moves and captivates you. Our earth is a beautiful place that houses tons of treasures. I’ve always found that places that I have gone to over and over again are places are spark my curiosity and have personal meaning to me. It’s great to have a list but I think those that appreciate it would use it as a starting off point / guideline / foundation for seeking more places and to explore.
The Dead Sea is one of those places that is on my bucket list to visit. Seeing this post makes me want to visit it more. You description of it bring a nice peaceful serene feel to the place that I would like to one day visit and experience myself.
Thanks for posting and sharing.
ITS SO BEUTIFULL PICTURES LIKE THE BEUTIY OF ALL ISRAEL
Such a nice collection of world beauty. Dead sea is such a true wonder of nature.
The only benefit that i can see from the 7 wonders campaign is looking at the top 25. there are alot of places in that list i havent heard about and now have a desire to see as for the top seven..different thing
Lucy | gapyeardotcom says
Such beautiful pictures….
I have never been to the Dead Sea but you have certainly inspired me to go.
Thanks for sharing.
Clotilde Basque says
Its so beautiful pictures !!! Good for my eyes
Good read and some amazing photos!
That\’s some really amazing facts about the dead sea
Good picture …
in Bali there are also many beaches, but not like that.
Those are some incredible pictures of the Dead Sea. Were those taken on the Israeli side or Jordan? I will be there in two weeks and as much as I\’ve been trying to find spots to take pictures, I feel clueless. Is it easy to park or is it easily accessible?
Sorry, too many questions. Thanks in advance!
Megan Eileen says
This looks like an amazing trip!
Amazing place! I go soon.
Alex S says
I totally agree to pick the top 7 wonders of the world is a challenge. You would seriously have to categorize it somehow or base it on statistics. Personally, the Bay of Fundy was one of the most remarkable things I’ve EVER seen. Seeing the tide rise 50+ feet in less than an hour is just beyond shock and awe. The Grand Canyon is amazing as well. Lastly, I’m shocked that there isn’t a single mountain or cold weather climate item on the list.
to me it a story that want be beleive by others but I’m so amazed
To me this story will be cherished in my heart.
Queenster and Emmanuel says
To me this story will be cherished in my heart and I beleive that not many people will think is true but, I beleive is true and I’m inspired to go there someday.And I’ll cherish it in my heart as long as I live.
Great event! I like your dead sea pictures ☺
Ken Kaminesky says
Thanks so much!