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THE BACKPACKSTERS

Climbing the legendary Mount Sinai in Egypt

One of the most amazing things we've ever done is the Night Trek to Mountain Sinai, in Egypt! Read here to know about what this is and why you should do it too.

 

The illuminated area of the St. Catherine Monastery, from where the Trek begins (full moon night)

 

History:

It is said that long ago, the biblical Moses made his way to the top of this mountain and stayed in a cave, and waited upon God to receive the Ten Commandments. But apart from this, the summit of the mountain was held sacred by the people of the region, what is now Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Migrants from as far as Georgia and the Caucasus region had moved here and began to worship their Gods and their messengers here. Eventually a few monasteries were built, one of which, "St. Catherine" is supposedly the largest in the region even today. 

Jews, Christians and Muslims from many parts of the world visit this mountain and make their way to the shrines at the top, as part of their Pilgrimage! As we ascended this mighty mountain, out of curiosity, we could not help but feel the surreal surge of spiritual energy radiating in the atmosphere.

 

The overwhelming views at the summit of Musa mountain (or Mt. Sinai)

 

The Trek:

At nearly 2,200 metres above sea level, this might mountain offers two paths to the top: a winding path spanning about 7.5 kms and another which is much shorter but terribly steep. The steep path is also called as "Path of Penitence" and is said to be a very righteous way of climbing up, in the name of seeking forgiveness from God. Most people take the longer trail and the trek is preferably done from Midnight to Sunrise - about 3-5 hours depending on how many breaks you take along the way.

 

If you are too tired to walk, there are many camels that offer rides to the top

 

The golden hour is actually a bright red here!

 

Endless mountains, as far as the eye can see

 

The Sinai Limestone - do you also find this view captivating?

 

What to keep in mind while trekking up Mt. Sinai:

  • If you are heading there in winter, do NOT underestimate how cold in can get at the top - its the strong winds that make it even worse
    We were wearing seven layers of clothes and rented a thick blanket at the shack at the summit, and were still freezing
    And as we started back down, it started to get quite hot
  • Snacks, water and Egyptian Tea are available at shacks which are all 1 km apart on the trail
    Restrooms/toilets are also located on the trail near the shacks
  • The sunrise trek generally begins by 1 am and you reach the summit by 4:30 or 5 am
  • The entire trek is in moonlight, so it helps to carry a flashlight/torch to help in the darkness
  • Camel rides are available for a fair rental and they can transport you to the top and back to St. Catherine ( the monastery at the base)
  • Most trekker groups start their downward journey by 7:30 am and reach St. Catherine by 9:30 am when a tour of the monastery is offered to all visitors

 

The Chapel inside the St. Catherine Monastery

 

 

How to get to Mount Sinai:

  • The best way to do the Sinai trek is to start from Sharm El Sheikh, a beautiful Red Sea town on the east coast of the Sinai peninsula.
  • Most hotels arrange for excursions to Mount Sinai and the St. Catherine Monastery as a group tour
  • This includes a packed breakfast, pick up and drop from your Sharm El Sheikh hotel and a guide throughout the journey
  • The drive takes 3-4 hours from Sharm El Sheikh - here are the details:
    • start at 9 pm from hotel
    • reach St. Catherine at 12:30 am
    • leave St. Catherine by 10 am
    • reach hotel in Sharm by 2 pm
  • Our suggestion: Shared Tour.

 

How to book the trek:

  • For shared tours it is best to ask your hotel reception to arrange it for you
  • Bargain hard - the fare price is about USD 20 or 25 per person (max) only
  • Breakfast includes a sandwich/cream bun and a packed juice (meh) - so carry your own snacks too

 

Cost:

  • The group tours are about USD 25 per person
  • Private tours are also arranged, but are significantly overpriced
  • It is IMPORTANT to prebook this trip, by at least one day, since the tour agencies must obtain permits which are later verified by the Police at the base

 

We've never seen anything as legendary as this, have you?

 

It was one of the best reasons to skip sleep for a night in 2018, and we're so sure that you'll like it too! So if you're visiting Egypt, add a three day itinerary to experience Mount Sinai:

 

Day 1: Cairo to Sharm El Sheikh

  • Overnight bus through the Suez Canal military gate -or- take a direct flight into Sharm's international airport - Buses can be booked on GoBus
  • Check into a hotel (preferably at Naama Bay, try here)
  • Spend the day at the beautiful beaches of Sharm El Sheikh
  • Get on bus/minivan after dinner and sleep through the journey

Day 2: Sharm El Sheikh / Mount Sinai

  • At 1 am start climbing the mountain, return after sunrise by 10 pm to the parking lot
  • Sleep on the bus/minivan till you reach Sharm El Sheikh
  • Go hang out at the beach till nightfall
  • Take over night GoBus back to Cairo or spend another day in sunny Sharm!

Day 3: Reach Cairo in the morning

 

Azure waters of the Red Sea, best experienced at Sharm El Sheikh

 

Explore the Naama Bay boulevard - particularly at night!

 

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