We began our road trip from Taba (the corner border of Egypt and Israel) to St. Catherine's Cathedral early in the morning. It is approximately 170 kms from Taba and requires prior travel arrangements including a security personnel to be with you on the trip. Because of the unstable situation in Egypt, it is recommended that you ensure your safety by hiring a safety guard with permission to use a licensed ammunition if needed. His presence will avoid any unnecessary security hassles. Some tips to keep in mind:
1. Always keep plenty of drinking water with you.
2. Ensure your vehicle is in its best condition with a full tank. Some spare fuel will also help.
3. Do not click pictures near security check-posts if you want to avoid mess.
4. Enjoy the desert trip with its picturesque sandstone landscape.
5. It's a bit breezy up there so you might need a jacket or pull-over.
There are several groups which go on regular treks to the many canyons located in the vast Sinai. We took a small trek up through the Colored Canyons where you can see a multitude of colorful rocks around sunrise. It takes a couple of hours to reach the top and it is obviously preferable to trek in the dark and camp at night.
THE GREAT SINAI PENINSULA
The Sinai Peninsula is located on the eastern part of Egypt, right between the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba, which are both forks of the Red Sea. The western and northern shores are practically isolated, but the eastern coast is bustling with several tourist attractions as well as Bedouin settlements.
The Sinai Peninsula is home to Mt. Sinai, a famous Biblical location mentioned in the Book of Exodus. This is where Moses fled, after being exiled for the death of an Egyptian. Forty years later, this is the same setting where God is believed to have handed down the Ten Commandments to Moses. Mt. Sinai is a popular place of pilgrimage for followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Apart from being a desert with numerous weather beaten canyons, the peninsula is famous for its monastries, Bedouin hutments and beautiful landscapes.
At the foot of St. Sinai is the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Catherine, one of the oldest monasteries in the world. It is overwhelming to see that after all these centuries, the murals, motifs, icons, manuscripts and objects inside are perfectly intact. You can visit St. Catherine’s main church, the old refectory, and the chapel of the burning bush, the library, and the Fatimid mosque.
The Colored Canyon is among the most unique and beautiful features in the Egyptian desert. Because of the wind that weathers the rocks and the volcanic action that occurred several centuries ago, the color of the rock in several places is either reddish or black. These rocks have been merged with the indigenous sandstone available in this desert. Millions of years ago, the Colored Canyon was once an ancient ocean. It eventually receded into a dry barren area. What remains of the ocean are only the beautiful sandstone and limestone rocks in the Colored Canyon, in multitudes of colors, shades and hues.
If you are into hiking, this is the place for you. The Sinai Peninsula has so many hiking trails, which you can easily arrange at the Bedouin Camp in Katerina Village. You can hire a Bedouin guide and a camel to help carry your things to your destination.
ST. CATHERINE'S CATHEDRAL
You can find a Bedouin Sinai guide to go trekking or hiking in the area around Saint Catherine City or in the numerous awe-inspiring mountains of South Sinai in Egypt. The Saint Catherine's Monastery is located by the foot of Mount Sinai. You can either hike Mt. Sinai itself (aka Jebel Musa) or hike Saint Catherine Mountain (aka Mt. Catherine or Gebel Katherina), then you can rest assured that you've found the right place to set up your unforgettable and highly tailored hiking and trekking trip to South Sinai, Egypt, with some of the friendliest, most experienced and easy going Bedouin guides you will find in the whole of Sinai and Egypt.
With over 200 religious landmarks, a myriad of byzantine monastic ruins, spectacular apexes, springs, creeks, canyons, astounding rock formations, lush valley gardens and a unique high altitude eco-system with numerous endemic and rare species, Saint Catherine's protectorate continues to be one of the world's most exhilarating travel spots and an unrivalled hiking, camping and trekking terrain for all types of travellers.
A UNESCO world heritage site, the area has been a focal point in the history and development of world religions and continues to attract people from the four corners of the earth who come to savor its biblical beauty. Whether you meditate around St. Catherine's Monastery, the oldest in the world, on the site of the miracle of the Burning Bush, or watch one of the most beautiful sunset and rise panoramas on the planet on Mt. Sinai where the Ten Commandments are said to have been received, or trek the limitless off the beaten path mountains, valleys and inspirational passes, a highly tailorable, transcendent experience is assured.