Climbing Mount Sinai
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If you’re in Egypt why not try climbing Mount Sinai? (view GPS Profile or download Mount Sinai GPS file for free)
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.
Although both Israel and Saudi Arabia also purport to have found the sacred mountain within their respective borders, it’s Egypt’s Mount Sinai which draws the masses every single night, literally in their thousands.
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 are plenty of Bedouin waiting around with camels. For the right price they're only too happy to give you a ride to the top on their “air-conditioned taxi.”
Be warned though, the camels can ride only as far as the start of the stone steps, after which point you will have to cimb the final hour or so to the top.
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-believer. 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.
A great many people choose to travel up in the ealry evening and then sleep on the summit of the mountain. Alternatively there are plenty of lodgings in St Catherine's Village.
You can climb the mountain all year round, but be warned it can get mighty cold, especially in the winter (More about the temperature in Sinai). 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