If you’re in Egypt why not try climbing Mount Sinai? It is the biblical mount upon which Moses was summoned by God to receive the laws for all of mankind in the form of two stone tablets.
A sacred place for Muslims, Christians and Jews alike, climbing Mount Sinai isn’t a pastime solely for the devout.
In the Protectorate of Saint Katherine, 100km inland from the Red Sea coast on Egypt’s dusty Sinai Peninsular. Six hours from Sharm El Sheikh, two Hours from Dahab, or ten hours from Cairo.
Buses connect all the major cities in Egypt to Sharm El Sheikh, from where there is a direct public bus to Saint Katherine’s, the closest town to the biblical mountain.
Most other resort towns in Sinai (Nuweiba, Dahab, Taba etc) also have direct transfers to the mountain which can be arranged privately through local hotels and travel agencies.
Climbing the 2285m peak is an achievable goal for most able bodied adults. Few people are forced to turn back, it just takes some a little bit longer than others.
Most people complete the trek in about three hours; two hours on a relatively easy camel track, and one hour on a more challenging set of uneven stone steps.
Even stopping regularly it’s unlikely to take the walker any longer than 3.5 hours to complete the trek, which means that there’s plenty of time to make use of the many mud hut-cum cafes which line the route.
If you do find yourself running out of steam half way up, there’s plenty of Bedouin waiting around with camels, only too happy to give you a ride to the top in their “air-conditioned taxi” for the right price.
Most people choose to reach the mountain’s summit at a time when the sun is either rising or setting. That means beginning the climb at 2/3pm or 2/3am depending on the time of year.
By far the most popular way of doing it is by night.
Something about following a candle lit line of pilgrims as they snake their way up the mountain trails under a star filled night time sky is pretty inspiring even for the most ardent non-believable.
That, plus the fact that hiking up the mountain in the day is just too damn hot, makes the night time trek the pilgrimage of choice.
You can climb the mountain all year round, but be warned it can get mighty cold, especially in the winter.
Although it’s possible to hire blankets very cheaply at the summit, during the winter months you’ll want to take everything you’ve got in the way of jumpers, hats, gloves and scarves..
To earn karmic points, bond with fellow travellers, work off some calories, or just get away from the madness of some of Egypt’s towns and cities, there’s plenty of reasons to climb Mount Sinai.
But at the very least, watching from the summit as the sun starts to reveal for the first time to your tired eyes the splendour of Sinai’s mountains and valleys is simply reward enough.
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