Twice I've been in Sinai... twice I went to St. Katherine. It is a miracle of survival, not only for the religious permanently living there, but also for the place itself. Nowhere in the world is possible to see two different religions sharing places and structures so closely as in this monastery. Why the religious fights and killings, if this example shows that respect and fraternity is possible?
The common entrance place of the peninsula Sharm-el-Sheikh concentrates almost everything in touristy structures and opportunities, acting as the launching point to the several programs locally available. Of course, it deserves a specific page, and I wrote it.
The main attraction of Mt. Sinai is not just the mountain itself but rather seeing a sunrise from the top. Tourists from around the world both young and old make the early morning trek up the mountain to see what truly is a magnificent sunrise over the Sinai. A few tips for your climb, be sure to be on the trail by 2:00 A.M., it will be cold in the morning no matter what time of year but keep in mind they do rent blankets at the top so be sure to have some money with you. The earlier you get there the better, the top is small and there are lots of people so get there early to get the best viewing spot. You can combine visiting St. Katherine's Monastery after seeing the sunrise as the monastery generally opens at 9:00 A.M. till 12:00 A.M.
For those hearty adventurers who are staying more than a couple of days at St. Katherine's Protectate you might want to consider a break from all hiking by spending a day at Camel School. At the time of my visit in March 2009 they were just putting it together but it was a lot of fun. Basically they take you out into a valley surrounded by the reddish pink mountains of the Sinai and teach you how to not only ride a camel but master it as well. I was able to learn how speak to the camel and get it to respond to my commands and then the last couple hours I was able to take the camel out on a trek for the most part by myself. This was an incredible and unique experience and I highly recommend it. Ask around at the Sheik Mousa Bedouin Camp for rates and availability.
St. Katherine's Monastery is not only a beautiful place to visit but its also a religious experience to many Christians and Jews. Thought to be near the location of the burning bush the monastery draws bus loads of tourist daily. The monks run a tight ship and visiting hours are limited so be sure to check in advance before visiting. This is also the starting point for climbing Mt. Sinai, hikers have the option of choosing the easy to navigate Camel Trail or the tough as nails Steps of Repentance.
Climbing Mt. Sinai is an adventure worth taking, set deep in the Sinai Peninsula and home to the disputed location where Moses received the Ten Commandments, Mt Sinai is both a religious trek and adventure wrapped into one. Most tourists choose to climb the mountain in the early morning hour to catch a breathtaking sunrise over the Sinai. This is a magnificent way to experience the beauty of Mt. Sinai in both the dark of night and the dawn of day. Climbing the mountain at night is a transcendent experience as the night is lit up by the moon and stars and the mountain ranges are visible as shadows against the night sky. You aren't alone on the trail as literally hundreds of people make the climb every night but thankfully the hike is long enough to create seperation from the bigger groups. Its best to start the hike at about 2:00 A.M. as it will take someone in good condition at least three hours to make the climb to the top. The vast majority of hikers take the camel trail as opposed to the Steps of Repentence...really the name says it all. There are camels available to take you to the top for a hefty fee. There are numerous places along the trail to buy tea and water and at the very top they sell blankets to help ward off the early morning chill. Keep in mind that they don't allow you to hike up Mt. Sinai by yourself...you must have a guide. Which of course is crazy considering how many people are on the trail but its the way they make money. A tour guide will run about 100 Egyptian pounds as of March 2009.
We've been also told that another attraction of Fara'ûn are the sulphurous waters of the spring that have curative qualities and are used for thermal hydrotherapy.
The sulphurous water is specially advised in cases of skin infection, bronchi and lungs diseases, but there was no spa and everything it was deserted around so I don't think someone is going there for a regular cure.
Another interesting part of St. Catherine Monastery that shouldn’t be missed is the Icons and Old Scripts exhibition.
Interesting and old items such as icons, bibles or other religious objects are displayed inside this relatively small museum and some of them are unique.
Entrance fee: USD 3- for adults, USD 1- for children.
Moses fled to the Sinai mountains in order to escape execution after being sentenced to death for assaulting and killing an Egyptian foreman who had beaten up an Israelite laborer.
Mt. Sinai was the place where one day God revealed himself to Moses in the Miracle of the Burning Bush and ordered him to save the children of Israel from captivity.
Inside St. Catherine Monastery is the burning bush but it is said that is not much left from the original one.
St. Catherine Monastery is built at an altitude of 1,570m on the place where God, under the form of a burning bush, called Moses.
The Coptic church of the Monastery is small inside but full of beautiful paintings.
The Christian monks and hermits settled small monastic communities around Mt. Sinai since the 3rd century.
In 330 AD Saint Helena erected a small church to commemorate the spot where God appeared to Moses, and a tower to serve as secure shelter for the monks.
In the 6th century, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian ordered the building of a fortified monastery encompassing the church and tower.
Elijah's Basin is a sandy flat surface which lies between the northern extension of the mountain, Mount Safsafa, and the summit.
The white Church of Elijah commemorates the place where Elijah fled after killing the prophets of Baal.
The path from Elijah's Basin leads you to the Monastery in about one hour but is steep and harder than the other way.
Elijah's Basin is also the best place for camping.
On the top of Mt. Sinai is a small Christian chapel but this one cannot be visited.
Most of the times is closed and I've heard that it is opened only once a year for religious pilgrimages.
I've been told that the best place to sit for enjoying the best view of the sunrise is on the right side of the chapel but I think that at the end the sunrise can be seen from almost all the points on the top.
Is indeed spectacular and is worth all the efforts to climb the mountain.
While climbing I've said that I will never repeat this experience again in the future even if someone would pay me, but now, think back at that moments, I will definitely do it without thinking twice.
Is a great experience and no one should miss it!
On our way to St. Catherine we stopped for a while at the point where the camions are embarked on the ferry for passing on the other side of the Suez Channel.
It may not be the best point for understating the importance of the Suez Channel but at least you can make an idea.
Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures as this is a military site, but I had some old pictures taken by my husband when he passed the Suez Channel with his ship on their way to South Africa.
The steps are the last part of the climbing and the most difficult one.
If up to the stairs you can also take a camel and facilitate the climbing, from now on it's only up to you to arrive to the top.
For the ones traveling alone, an "experienced" guide can be "rented". The experience consists in pushing or drawing you up to the stairs and the ones who speak a bit of English can also encourage you.
A pocket lamp is mandatory, although, if you are lucky, the moon is a good companion.
Good family hotel. Not diver friendly. The hotel Diver Center although member of PADI doesn't...more
Tarabeen Bay, Tarabin, Nuweiba, Egypt
Good for: Business
I had a very enjoyable stay at the Coral Coast Hotel, it is conveniently located on the main coast...more