Village of Saint Catherine – Galt El-Azraq

Village of Saint Catherine – Galt El-Azraq

If you’re going to the village of Saint Catherine, you’ll definitely go there through Wadi Abu Gifa. Following an uphill trail zigzagging through the properties of the local Bedouins, you’ll reach the Pass of Abu Gifa.

On your left you will see Deir El-Ribwa, a secluded monastery in the mountains, a little unconventional as it’s much more modern than the typical monastery. And on the left you’ll see the path that leads up to Gebel Seru, also known as Gebel Rahab by Arabs.

This trail - typically used by local Bedouin shepherds - leads to Deir El-Rahab going through a gorge then heading sharply downhill on the side of the mountain. Once you reach Deir El-Rahab, you’ll be taken aback by the beauty of its surrounding landscape; discreetly located in a valley among fresh water springs, lush gardens and cypresses. But unfortunately you will not be able to visit the monastery, as it’s off-limits to visitors and tourists.

Once through the Pass of Abu Gifa, you’ll go down a sharp incline that ends with Wadi Tubuq, southwest of which are beautiful fruit orchards thriving with pomegranate shrubs, apple trees, almond trees, olive trees among others, then the mouth of Wadi Shaq opening on the left.

You’ll go through a narrow granite canyon to find ahead of you the awesome view of Gebel Katherina, rising in all its glory at the southeast.

At that point you’ll reach the southern Wadi Zawatin (Valley of the Olives), and on your right you’ll find a short track leading to a stone hut used for overnight shelter by Bedouins as well as campers.

A few hundred meters (yards) along the way, you’ll find Nabq El Zawatin rich with olive groves, hence the name “Zawatin”.

After going up Nabq El Zawatin, you’ll find the plateau of Wadi Jibal spreading southwest.

The land rise then shrinks into a rocky downhill ravine that fills with water in winter, and turns into a small stream.

At about a three and a half hour walk from the beginning of the trip, you will reach the peculiar round topped Gebel Misman, after which you will find a track leading to the beautiful wells of Ain Naghila.

After Ain Naghila, you’ll get to the trail full of curiously shaped boulders and rocks running through the bed of Wadi Jibal (valley of the mountains).
Trekking Saint Catherine, Sinai Desert
A little further you’ll come across a village called Marufia by the Bedouins, which mainly consists of stone sheds.

After passing these constructions, your track will run along the right side of the valley opening into a wide area, at the end of which you’ll find what’s called Farsh Rummana (the plain of pomegranates).

Farsh Rummana is a starting point for many hikes; if you head west, through a crack in the valley’s wall at a point marked by two posts, you’ll reach an open plain where you’ll find sepulchers (burial vaults) dating back to the Bronze Age, as well as a few recent Bedouin tombs.

This plain is connected with Gebel Nabq Baharia westward, where a sharp downhill leading back to the Ain Naghila wells.

If you embark once again from Farsh Rummana, this time climbing down along the streambed and the valley itself, forming an extension to Wadi Jibal called Wadi Talah.

After a two-hour hike, you’ll reach a beautiful watching point from which you can see the outline of Gebel Tarboush, and further down two valleys with shining green water contrasting with the bleak rocks surrounding it.

The lower well is the famous Galt El-Azraq (the blue well). It’s very easy to reach the streambeds; you’ll simply climb down in about twenty minutes.

Once you reach the Galt, you’ll witness the beauty of cascading water stream. And during summer, you can enjoy a quick dip in this mini basin, about 7 meters deep (23 feet).

The beautiful Byzantine church inside the Monastery has never been damaged since it´s construction in 542 A.D. When Moses fled from Egypt, he came upon the seven daughters of Jethro tending their flocks at a well. This "Moses Well", as it is called today, can still be seen near the Monastery church. Moses married one of the daughters, then spent 40 years in the desert until the miracle of the burning bush occurred, when God was revealed to him, and he was ordered to bring the children of Israel to Horeb (Mount Moses) where he received the Tablets of the Law. In 330 A.D a small church and a tower at the site of the Burning Bush were erected by st. Helena (Constantine the Greats mother).

Last Updated on Saturday 15th January 2011