Mount Sinai: Red Sea Coast Adventure
Located off the coast of the Red Sea, right in the middle of the Sinai Peninsula, this spectacular region is the home of one of the most desirable destinations for those who yearn for a spiritual experience, a challenging hike or an exhilarating adventure.
Mount Sinai, also known as Moses Mountain and in Arabic: ‘Gabal Mousa’, is the location where Moses received the two stone tablets from God containing the Ten Commandments – a story that appears in the Quran, the Bible and the Torah.
Standing at an incredible 2,285 meters above sea level, this spiritual location holds a high significance to a vast number of people from all the modern monotheistic religions.
Mount Sinai is also home to the Monastery and Chapel of St Catherine which was discovered in the 6th century. It is also the site of another of God’s miracles – the Burning Bush.
Many people, both young and old, travel from far and wide just to stand in this holy spot. During our own hike, we met people from Korea and Indonesia who were on a spiritual pilgrimage.
We met our driver at the hotel at around 7:00pm in Sharm El Sheikh and were taken to the foot of the mountain by our tour guide who gave us each a flashlight and a brief introduction of what lay ahead. It must be taken into consideration that this hike is not for the faint hearted as it involves climbing for several hours in the dark with nothing but a torch and your own backpack, however you can travel at your own speed and take as many breaks as needed.
It is also advisable to wear layers, as the temperature changes significantly and dramatically throughout the expedition – we found it to be very cold on the way up at night, but on the way down, the sun had gotten very hot.
Nonetheless we found this to be a delightful experience. We discovered it was possible to take a camel ride up the mountain, at a fee of course, depending on how well you can negotiate with the Bedouins. Also, the tour guide gives the same speech in both Arabic and English.
Though the hike itself takes up most of the hours and energy, once at the top of the mountain you will be greeted with a vast and stunning view just as the sun is rising providing fantastic photo opportunities along with a grand feeling of accomplishment. There’s also a sign marking the area where Moses received the Ten Commandments at the very peak of the mountain.
At the peak you can also find various Bedouin style huts serving hot and cold drinks and snacks to purchase, as well as blankets to rent should you desire to take a short nap after the strenuous hike. Subsequent to the small break, hikers begin the journey back down the mountain taking a different and more scenic route, as the early morning sun grows brighter, and then you will be served your healthy breakfast in the dining room of the hotel followed by a tour through the grounds of Saint Catherine’s Church.
The monastery is a highly significant location and very important part of the expedition. Said to be one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world, this celebrated complex houses the Chapel, the site of the Burning Bush, and is also home to many ancient works of art dating back to the 5th century.
This excursion is well worth the money and long hours as it offers so much diversity in a single trip, though keep in mind a good night’s sleep is in order both before and after this grand adventure.
Excursions are available in most travel agencies, though prices vary. If you’re staying in a hotel in Sharm El Sheikh then it is possible to book through the hotel at a cheaper rate. The excursion includes the hike itself along with a tour guide, a visit to St. Catherine’s Chapel and a tour of the monastery surrounding it. Finally, after a tiring trip, a hearty breakfast of eggs, meat, cheese, toast with jam and butter plus an unlimited choice of tea, coffee and juice, will be served in a three star hotel close to St Catherine’s church early the next morning.
This excursion lasts approximately 15 hours including the journeys to and from the mountain in a fully air-conditioned coach.