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Egypt Trekking

Egypt - Interior Sinai

Inland safaris range from half-day excursions by jeep or camel to fully-fledged treks lasting up to two weeks. Traveling by jeep is faster and makes little or no demands on one is physique but tends to distance one from the landscape and at the worst can reduce the experience to a mere outing. This is rarely the case if one travels on camel back, which feels totally in keeping with the terrain. Safaris can be organised at any of the resorts on the Aqaba coast. For those with more time and stamina, a third option is to go trekking on foot, which is the most rewarding way to experience remote areas. Treks can be arranged at the village of St Catherine's or at certain points along the roads into the interior, such as Sheikh Hamid - and also through some of the Bedouin who run trips from the coastal resorts. Safari destinations. The list is long but by no means conclusive and includes Ain el-Furtaga 16 kilometres from Nuweiba by road. Ain Khudra Oasis, one of the loveliest oases in Sinai can be reached by hiking from St Catherine's road, with help from local Bedouin, or from the south by 4WD. Ain Kid Oasis is 14 kilometres off the road between Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab and is reached via Wadi Kid, a red-walled canyon where a spring appears in rainy years. The oasis has a fresh-water well. Ain Umm Ahrned is another beautiful oasis, accessible by 4WD or camel from Bir es-Sawa. Can serve as a base for climbing expeditions to Ras el-Qalb.


St Catherine's Monastery and Mount Sinai

Venerated by Christians, Jews as well as Muslims, Mount Sinai overlooks the valley where Moses is said to have heard God speaking from a burning bush. The bush is now enshrined in St Catherine's Monastery, nestling in a valley at the foot of the Mount surrounded by high walls and lush gardens.

Walking to the summit

Neither of the two routes to the summit requires a guide, but attempts made at night must by touch and avoided during winter. The longer but easier route is via the switchback camel path, starting 50 metres behind the monastery.

The High Mountain Region

The area around St Catherine's sometimes termed the High Mountain Region, as it contains numerous peaks over 2,000 metres (6500 feet). Snow frequently covers the ground in winter and flash floods can occur at any time of the year.

The High Mountain

The main staring point for treks is the village of EI-Milga near St Catherine's. The path starts behind the village and runs up the Wadi el-Leja on Mount Sinai's western flank, past the deserted Convent of the Forty and a Bedouin hamlet. Shortly afterwards the trail forks, the lower path winding off up a rubble-strewn canyon, Shagg Musa, which it eventually quits to ascend Mount Catherine - a straightforward but exhausting climb.

The Summint

On the summit are a chapel with water, a meteorological station and two rooms for pilgrims to stay overnight. The panoramic view encompasses most of the peninsula, from Hammam Faroun and the Wilderness of the Wanderings to the Arabian mountains beyond the Gulf of Aqaba. According to tradition, it was on this peak that priests found the remains of St Catherine during the ninth or tenth century.

Starting off in EI-Milga

Starting off in EI-Milga, a longer walk heads through the Abu Giffa Pass down into Wadi Tubug, passing walled gardens en route to Wadi Shagg, where one can view Byzantine ruins and huge boulders. The second trek starts at Abu Sila village, three kilometres from El-Milga, where there are some rock inscriptions. Day two involves descending into Wadi Nugra, below Jebel el-Banat. One can relax and bathe in pools fed by a twenty-metre-high waterfall, before pressing on along through Wadi Gharba to the tomb of Sheikh Awad, where the Aulad Gundi tribe holds an annual feast in his honor.

The fourth day follows the same route as the final leg of the other hike, visiting Abbas Pasha's ruined palace before returning to El-Milga. It's thought that the ancient Israelites reached Mount Sinai by the same route that buses coming from the west use today, via Wadi Feiran and Wadi el-Sheikh.

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Last Updated on Sunday 16th January 2011

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