I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed and peaceful as I did the first time I experienced a sunrise in the Sea of Galilee.
The Sea of Galilee is actually a Lake. Not even a particularly large one at that; I think it’s only around 70km all the way around, and around 46m deep. Loch Ness in Scotland is bigger and deeper. Galilee does however, have the prestige of being the lowest fresh water lake in the world, at 213m below sea-level. Plus it’s where Jesus walked on water which probably trumps any Loch Ness Monster.
Back to the swimming. My mother in law loves wild swimming, and Galilee is her favourite Lake in the world to swim in. When she suggested a sunrise swim I jumped at the chance, even though it meant a 5am start.
Bleary eyed, and slightly freaked out after having seen the biggest cockroach in the bathroom, we wandered out of the hotel. Whilst the rest of our group were fast asleep the birds were definitely not! Accompanied by the birdsong we made our way down to the Lake. Unfortunately the shores aren’t as clean as you’d hope and there is a fair bit of broken glass mixed in with the sand and stones so I recommend taking shoes you don’t mind getting wet.
The water was warm, even at that time, and is some of the silkiest water I’ve swum in, rivaling the mineral rich waters of Lake Langano in Ethiopia. We swam for a bit until the sun began to poke it’s head over the Judean hills, at which point we just watched in silence. It truly was a breathtaking sunrise and i think being in the Lake was the best way to experience it.
A word of caution about swimming in the Sea of Galilee; There are some very strong currents in the lake, and the weather can change very unexpectedly. The next day we looked into going paddle-boarding on the other side of the Lake, but were advised that the wind would change in the next 30 minutes. Looking out the water was so calm and still that we didn’t quite believe the shopkeeper, but, no less than 30 minutes later ,the wind picked up creating some quite strong waves and currents. Needless to say paddle-boarding on that would not have been fun! The locals stick to the edges of the shore, trying to stay where they can still touch the bottom and I’d advise the same to anyone swimming there.