Mount Sinai, Egypt: A Short but Arguably Effective Guide | Trekking Days

Mount Sinai, Egypt: A Short but Arguably Effective Guide

by | Africa, Hotspots

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If you’re looking for a bucket-list-worthy destination, you should consider Mount Sinai, Egypt. This interesting place is located in the heart of the Sinai Peninsula and is home to what many call a stunning scenery. Whether you’re a history lover or an adventure seeker, Mount Sinai has something to offer.

Mount Sinai is located in the southern part of Egypt

Located in the Sinai Peninsula, the mountain is said to be the site of the biblical mount where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. Regardless of whether this is the case or not, there are good reasons for which Mount Sinai is a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists alike. The mountain is home to a number of churches and monasteries, as well as the famed Saint Catherine’s Monastery. Tourists can also take in the breathtaking views from the summit of Mount Sinai.

Climbing to the top of Mount Sinai is a challenging experience that may not be for everyone

The journey is long and arduous, and the altitude can take a toll on even the most experienced climbers. The ascent can be made in a single day, but many people choose to stay overnight at one of the mountaintop monasteries. If you decide to make the climb, be sure to take plenty of water and rest frequently. You might agree that the views from the top are worth the effort!

A typical Mount Sinai sunrise

There are several churches and mosques located near the mountain

Mount Sinai’s summit has a mosque that is still in use and a Greek Orthodox chappel that is not open to the public. At the summit, you will also find what is known as “Moses’ cave”, the place where he presumably received the well-known commandments.

A Greek Orthodox chapel that you can see from the outside, but never from the inside

At the summit of Mount Sinai is the 6th century St. Catherine Monastery, A UNESCO World Heritage, which is the oldest continuously operating Christian monastery in the world. The monastery was built around the Chapel of the Transfiguration, where tradition says Moses saw a vision of God. Today, visitors can explore the monastery’s extensive grounds and its Byzantine architecture. The monastery is open to visitors year-round.

St. Catherine Monastery

Saint Catherine’s Monastery was founded between 527 and 565 AD by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine I, and is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. The monastery is well-known for its library, which houses one of the largest collections of ancient manuscripts in the world. Saint Catherine’s Monastery also has a museum with a collection of Byzantine art, and an orthodox chapel that contains Saint Catherine’s body. Every year, on Saint Catherine’s day (November 25th), pilgrims from all over the world come to Mount Sinai to visit Saint Catherine’s Monastery.

Trekkers can explore the surrounding desert landscape

The desert is known for its hot, dry climate and barren landscape. Despite these conditions, the Sinai Desert, as the peninsula is called, is home to a variety of plant and animal life.

Typical landscape near Mount Sinai

The trail to the summit of Mount Sinai begins in the town of St. Catherine’s Monastery. From there, it winds up through the desert landscape for about seven miles (11 km). Along the way, hikers can take in sweeping views of the desert. At the summit, hikers may enjoy the view of the sunrise over the desert.

Mount Sinai tours

Most guided tours to Mount Sinai start at night, so you can see the sunrise from the summit. Tours often start from relatively close Red Sea resorts such as Dahab, Taba, and Sharm El-Sheikh. For more information or booking, go here.

Sharm El-Sheikh is a beach resort that can be a nice stop before exploring the surrounding area

How to get to Mount Sinai

At the time of writing this, many governmental bodies around the world recommend traveling to the Sinai Peninsula by air only, to Sharm El-Sheikh, due to terrorism threat. It is best to check the latest updates before your trip from a reputable source.

The Sinai Peninsula is one of the less safe locations in Egypt at present time. For this reason, do not adventure in any location without knowing what you are doing. Always get your facts from sources that have a higher degree of credibility, such as government websites, and only travel with reputable travel companies.

Sharm el-Sheikh has the third busiest airport in Egypt and you can find plenty of flights to it from other locations in Egypt and elsewhere.

The summit can be accessed from two routes that start in the car park of Saint Catherine’s Monastery. It is mandatory to start either route with a local Bedouin guide, and you find them at the base of the trails. The original route, the Steps of Penitence, has 3,750 steps carved by hand into the ravine behind the monastery.

The second route, the Camel Trail, was created in the 19th century and, as the name suggests, it is possible to climb it with the help of a camel. The camel won’t take you to the summit, but until the trail joins the Steps of Penitence, at about 750 steps before the summit.

You will not return to the base on the same routes but on the Steps of Repentance trail. These 3,750 stone steps were presumably made by a single monk as a repentance for his sins.

A few tips before you go

Sinai is one of the coldest provinces in Egypt because of its high altitudes. While at night it can get relatively chilly, day temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celcius) during summer. For this reason, it’s best to have a variety of clothes, so you stay confy during your entire trekking experience.

The Steps of Penitence route is likely more appropriate for the very fit, as it is quite steep. The second route is probably a better option for those who prefer less challenging treks.

There you have it. If you don’t mind a good climb, Mount Sinai is most likely worth the visit. Just be sure to come prepared with plenty of water and snacks – it’s a long way up!


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