- 09 Apr, 2022
Mount Sinai (Gebel Musa) Summit
Hiking to the 2285m (7496ft) summit of Mount Sinai (Gebel Musa) is extremely popular with outdoor enthusiasts and pilgrimage tourists. Mount Sinai is where believers say Moses received the Ten Commandments. The easiest route is the Camel Trail, a wide, well-defined switchback path up the furrowed slope that ascends at a steady gradient to Elijah’s Basin. The trailhead is right in front of St Katherine’s Monastery at the foot of the mountain. The track is gravelly underfoot, particularly at the higher reaches, but is otherwise a straightforward walk. The Steps of Repentance Mount Sinai’s second trail is the Steps of Repentance which begins behind the monastery. Built by one of St Katherine’s monks as an act of penance, this is a steeper, more direct route of 3750 rough-cut stone steps. With expansive views of the craggy contours of the surrounding mountains and – if you’re lucky – a glimpse of a mountain ibex along the way, the knee-wearying stairs are worth it. If your knees aren’t up to it, hike the easier Camel Trail up and take the Steps of Repentance down. Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter. The Wadi Arbain Trail The less basic third option is the Wadi Arbain Trail. This route begins in the spring-fed wadi (valley) behind St Katherine village, passing the Monastery of Forty Martyrs (Deir Arbain) and the large boulder known as the Rock of Moses where, according to local tradition, Moses struck with his staff to produce water. From here you traverse a narrow, stony-underfoot track, scattered with early Christian hermit cells, up the neighboring slope of Gebel Safsafa until it connects with the final switchback of the Camel Trail. All three trails converge at Elijah's Basin, a small plateau where believers say the Prophet Elijah waited for God. From here, everyone hikes the final 750 stairs of the Steps of Repentance to Mount Sinai’s summit. Guides are mandatory on all Mount Sinai routes. This provides much-needed work for St Katherine’s Jabaliyya Bedouin tribe. If you want to hike the Camel Trail or Steps of Repentance, simply turn up at the Mount Sinai-St Katherine’s Monastery visitor center, and you’ll be assigned a guide (USD $20) on the spot. The Wadi Arbain Trail is organized through local St Katherine trekking outfits such as Sheikh Mousa Guesthouse or Wilderness Ventures Egypt.
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