The Sinai is the great wilderness that separates Africa and Asia, the land bridge between the two biggest continents on earth and an age-old traveling passage through which journeys have been made that defined the history of the Middle East. The Sinai’s rugged mountains and deserts have inspired some of the most fascinating myths and legends ever told, and it holds a central place in the three Abrahamic faiths as the land into which each tells us that Moses led his people to escape slavery. Legend echoes across these landscapes, but the region is equally rich in more tangible relics of the past. Some of the most celebrated civilizations in history settled here through the ages, adding their marks and creating a unique historical landscape. Old temples of the Egyptian Pharaohs stand near crumbling Nabataean shrines, and old Ottoman palaces crown remote mountaintops.
Myth and history aren’t in any shortage when it comes to the Middle East; the whole region is steeped in them. What really sets the Sinai apart, though, is the epic wilderness that forms the backdrop to it all; it’s the Sinai’s vast, sweeping deserts; its high mountains; and its deep, shadowy wadis.
And, at the same time, it’s the rich Bedouin culture the Sinai’s landscapes still cradle. The Bedouin communities of the Sinai, still living in the most remote parts of the peninsula, are like a living extension of the Sinai and its history. And it’s through traveling with them and observing their deep-rooted connection to the land that you discover another side of the Sinai entirely. As much as a journey through the Sinai is about the scenery, the myth, and the legend, it is also about the Bedouin. It’s about discovering part of their ancient culture – a culture that grew from the deserts of the Middle East, but which is rapidly changing across the region today.
Stage 1: Wadi Quseib to Wadi Shefalleh
Stage 2: Wadi Shefalleh to Colored Canyon
Stage 3: Colored Canyon to Ein Furtaga
Stage 4: Ein Furtaga to Mileihis Oasis
Stage 5: Mileihis Oasis to Ein Hudera
Stage A1: Ras Shaitan to Colored Canyon via Wadi Melha
Stage A2: Colored Canyon to Ras Shaitan via Wadi Melha al-Atshana
Stage 6: Ein Hudera to Mt. Mutamir
Stage 7: Mt. Mutamir to Wadi Matura
Stage 8: Wadi Matura to Wadi Fara
Stage 9: Wadi Fara to Blue Desert
Stage 10: Blue Desert to Mt. Sinai
Stage 11: Mt. Sinai to Mt. Katherina
Stage 12: Mt. Katherina to St. Katherine
There are many accommodation options along the coast at the beginning of the Abraham Path’s route through the Mt. Sinai Region; likewise, there are many options at the end of the route in the Mt. Sinai/Mt. Katherina area. In between, there are a few other areas with lodging offerings – otherwise, wild camping is expected.
Bedouin gardens are a type of lodging unique to the Sinai. These historic orchards offer walkers shelter in a simple hut as well as basic amenities. These accommodations should be reserved in advance so that the owner has enough time to bring food from town. If you arrive at a garden without prior notice and the owner is not present, you can enter – provided you are accompanied by a local guide – and give the money to your guide; he will pay the owner upon your return to town.
|Stage||Location||Name||Type||Price||# of beds||Contact Information (+###) [country code]||Amenities|
|Close to A1/A2||Gulf of Aqaba, 24km north of Nuweiba||Basata||G||S huts – €23/LE210
D huts – €20/LE180pp
T Chalets – €26/LE245pp
|20 huts, 10 chalets, camping email@example.com
|Self-catering kitchen with food stocked and available for purchase; meals; bathrooms; beach; mosque; parking|
|Close to A1/A2||Ras Shaitan||Sahara Beach||G||S huts – LE100
D huts – LE80pp
|12 huts, 2 family firstname.lastname@example.org
|Mosquito nets; electric outlets; fans on request; restaurant; bathroom; beach; parking|
|Close to A1/A2||Ras Shaitan||Castle Beach||G||Huts – LE100pp
|44 beach email@example.com
|Mosquito nets; electric outlets; bathrooms; restaurant; beach; parking|
|Close to A1/A2||Ras Shaitan||Maagana Camp||G||S bungalow – LE150
D bungalow – LE100pp
S hut – LE90
D hut – LE75pp
|8 bungalows, 60 huts||+20100-384-5549
|Mosquito nets; fans; electric outlets; bathrooms; restaurant; beach; parking|
|10-15km from A1/A2||Tarabin Beach||Nakhil Inn||H||S room – $48/LE345
D room – $28/LE
|Fridge; a/c; bathrooms; wifi; beach; snorkel rental; kayak facilities|
|10-15km from A1/A2||Tarabin Beach||Sababa Camp||G||Huts – LE60pp
|restaurant; bathrooms; beach; parking|
|10-15km from A1/A2||Tarabin Beach||El Badawy Camp||G||S room – LE120
D room – LE90pp
|22 rooms||+20106-525-4115||restaurant; bathrooms; garden; beach; parking|
|5, 6||Ein Hudera||Sabah Camp||Gd||LE30||Simple palm shelters; space for up to 40 people||Camping area for tents; squat toilets; water from a bucket for washing; water for purification from well; cooked meals from LE30|
|5, 6||Ein Hudera||Faraj Ghanem||Gd||LE20||Simple palm shelters; space for up to 30 people||Camping area for tents; squat toilets; water from a bucket for washing; water for purification from well; cooked meals from LE30|
|6||Nawamis Village||Nawamis School||T||LE25||Bedouin tent with space for 15 people||Faraj Sabah: +20100-378-2491||Bedouin tent; camping area; compost toilet; water and meals available from nearby families from LE30|
|10, 12||Monastery of St. Katherine||Monastery of St. Katherine Guesthouse||G||S – LE240
D – LE200pp
T – LE170pp
includes breakfast & dinner
|42 rooms||+2069-347-0353||Bathrooms; a/c; heat in winter; cafe/restaurant with meals for LE45|
|11||Between Mt. Sinai and Mt. Katherina||Ramadan’s Garden||Gd||LE30pp
LE40pp for furnished stone room
|4 stone rooms, one furnished with mattresses; 3 basic shelters; camping area; capacity for over 80 ppl||Mohammad Abu Ramadan – +20101-871-2491
Salem Abu Ramadan – +20101-497-6289
|Bedouin tent; drinking water; washing water from a bucket; free tea; meals LE30-50; fresh fruit sometimes available|
|12||St. Katherine||Desert Fox Camp||G||S – LE30
D – LE30pp
Camping – LE30
|9 rooms and camping firstname.lastname@example.org
|bathrooms; heat in winter; wifi; restaurant; Bedouin tent; free tea & water; fire every night; organic garden for kitchen produce|
|12||St. Katherine||Mas’oudi Camp||G||LE110pp
|18 rooms and camping email@example.com
|bathrooms; heat in winter; restaurant; Bedouin tent; free tea; organic garden for kitchen produce|
|12||St. Katherine||Bedouin Camp & Guesthouse||G||S – LE55-100
D – LE45-75pp
|27 rooms||+2069-347-0457||bathrooms; heat in winter; restaurant|
|12||Between Mt. Katherina and St. Katherine town||Sebayl’s Garden||Gd||LE20-30||Stone room, sleeps 4-6; camping for over 30||Sebayl Abu Taiyah – +20106-355-9597 or +20106-251-0713||Drinking water; washing water from a bucket; free tea; meals LE30-50; fresh fruit sometimes available|
|12||Between Mt. Katherina and St. Katherine town||Oda’s Garden||Gd||LE20-30||Stone room, shelters, and camping – total 40 ppl; outside garden, additional stone room for 10-15ppl||Oda Mohammed – +20106-061-3229||Drinking water; washing water from bucket; eco-friendly compost toilet; free tea; meals LE30-50; fresh fruit sometimes available|
|12||Wadi Zawatin||Hussein’s Garden||Gd||LE20-30||Stone room sleeps 6-8; camping space for over 30ppl||Hussein Abu Tarawa – +20100-191-7856||Drinking water; washing water from a bucket; eco-friendly compost toilet; free tea; meals LE30-50; fresh fruit sometimes available|
|12||Wadi Zawatin||Um Saad’s Garden||Gd||LE20-30||Stone room, basic shelters, and camping area for 20 ppl||Drinking water; washing water from a bucket; eco-friendly compost toilet; free tea; meals LE30-50; fresh fruit and vegetables available in season|
F – Family Stay
G – Guesthouse (small, locally-owned establishment with private rooms)
H – Hotel
Hs – Hostel (accommodation offering dormitory options)
T – Bedouin Tent (usually dormitory-style sleeping on mats on the floor of a large tent)
S – Shelter (a few areas have free hiker shelters, which are a simple room with cots that hikers can use)
C – Camping (a paid or free place to put down a tent, may or may not have facilities)
Gd – Bedouin garden (historic Bedouin orchard, with basic shelters or stone huts)
Getting to the Sinai
The Sinai’s main international airport is in Sharm el Sheikh. A smaller airport in Taba offers less frequent service. Outside the Sinai, Egypt’s main airport is in Cairo; this airport handles flights from all parts of the world. Regular domestic flights operated by Egypt Air also depart from here to Sharm el Sheikh. The Sinai also has an international ferry port at Nuweiba and a smaller marina at Taba.
Wherever you are in Egypt, you’ll find an extensive and affordable – if sometimes basic – bus network, which makes traveling overland easy. There are daily buses from Cairo to the Sinai run mostly by the East Delta Bus Company, and buses and minibuses connect all of the peninsula’s main towns, usually daily. Where they don’t, private taxis can be hired for long-distance travel at inexpensive rates. Some roads have been closed due to the political climate in recent years; but generally, travel to, from, and around the Sinai remains easy. Always remember to travel with your passport.
Getting to/around the Abraham Path:
The Abraham Path’s route through the Mt. Sinai Region starts by Ras Shetan, a small beach settlement. To reach Ras Shetan, first travel to Nuweiba: daily buses go to Nuweiba from Sharm el Sheikh (LE45), Dahab (LE25), and most other towns in the Sinai, excluding Saint Catherine. There are also daily buses from downtown Cairo (LE90).
Once in Nuweiba, a private taxi to Ras Shetan will cost around LE50. Alternatively, buses run from Nuweiba to Taba three times daily for LE25; take one of these and ask the driver to drop you off at Ras Shetan on the way.
If you’re coming from Taba, two daily buses go south to Nuweiba: one at 3pm, another at 6-7am (LE25). Tell the driver to stop at Ras Shetan. Service taxis – shared taxis that look like normal minibuses – go from outside the Taba border to Nuweiba. These service taxis only depart when full, though, and not on a predictable schedule; be prepared to wait. Private taxis should cost LE150-200 from Taba to Ras Shetan. Arrange in advance through your accommodations in Ras Shetan, though, or it may cost more on the spot.
The Abraham Path’s route through the Mt. Sinai Region ends in Saint Catherine, Egypt’s highest town; it’s possible to travel here and walk the final stages around Mt. Sinai and Mt. Catherine. A daily bus leaves from Cairo for Saint Catherine at 6am (LE65). Traveling in the opposite direction, a daily bus also leaves from Saint Catherine for Cairo at 6am. There are no public buses between Saint Catherine and east coast towns like Nuweiba and Dahab. The only option is the Bedouin Bus, which runs twice-weekly to Dahab and Nuweiba (LE50). See www.bedouinbus.com for information. If traveling by private taxi from Saint Catherine, you should expect to pay these approximate fares: Nuweiba – LE250; Dahab – LE250; Taba – LE500; Sharm el Sheikh – LE500; Ein Hudera – LE150.
An approximate midway point of the Abraham Path route is Ein Hudera, a small desert oasis. The oasis is a 45-minute walk from the main road; we recommend taking a guide. You can use the Bedouin Bus to get to the Ein Hudera drop-off point from Nuweiba, Dahab, or Saint Catherine, but call Hameed Mohammed in advance (+20100-310-6228). Hameed can also arrange private taxis, as can Salah Mahmoud (+20100-367-6467). If you are leaving Ein Hudera, there is phone reception near the road; taxis will cost about LE150-200 to Nuweiba, Dahab, or Saint Catherine.
An alternative mid-point to Ein Hudera – just a few kilometres away – is the Nawamis village. This is closer to the main road and more accessible, and it can be reached using the same transport options as Ein Hudera.
Arriving in the Sinai from land or sea borders:
Crossing at the land border with Israel: The Eilat/Taba border, open 24/7, is the only crossing between Israel and Egypt. There’s an exit tax of 106NIS from Israel, plus a further fee of LE105 to leave Taba on the roads. Full one month Egyptian tourist visas – which we recommend for walking the Abraham Path – are not issued at the Taba land border and must be arranged at an Egyptian diplomatic mission in advance; the closest option is the Egyptian consulate in Eilat. Read more about visas for hiking the Abraham Path below.
Crossing from Jordan via Taba marina: The marina is part of the Taba Heights hotel resort. Sindbad runs a catamaran to the Taba marina from Aqaba three days weekly at 7pm. The trip is about 45 mins and costs US$114 (www.sindbadjo.com). Similar boats are operated by AB Maritime – www.abmaritime.com.jo – and Meenagate: www.meenagate.com. Whichever company you use, tickets are compulsory returns that must be used within eight days. There is a JD10 departure tax from Aqaba, and full Egyptian visas should be arranged in advance.
Crossing from Jordan via Nuweiba: AB Maritime runs two ferries daily from Aqaba to Nuweiba – one slow, one fast. The slow ferry leaves Aqaba at 4am and takes around three hours (US$70); the fast one leaves at 4pm and takes about one hour (US$80). For both, there’s a JD10 departure tax. These ferries often run late, and timetables can change; be prepared to be flexible, and call AB Maritime (+962-3-201-3237 or +962-3-201-3240) rather than relying on the website for information: www.abmaritime.com.jo. Full Egyptian visas can be acquired on this trip.
Travelers of most nationalities need a visa for Egypt; two different types are available for travel in the Sinai. One is a 14-day ‘Sinai only’ visa, issued as a simple passport stamp from any Sinai entry point; this visa is free. The other option is the full Egyptian tourist visa, which lasts one month and costs US$25. The 14-day ‘Sinai only’ visa only permits travel on the Sinai’s east coast – e.g. to towns like Taba, Nuweiba, Dahab and Sharm el Sheikh – and inland to area around the town of Saint Catherine, the Monastery of Saint Catherine, and Mount Sinai. All other parts of the Sinai – plus the entirety of mainland Egypt – remain off-limits. The full Egyptian visa permits travel anywhere and is recommended.
Full tourist visas can be arranged at any Egyptian embassy prior to travel. If flying to Egypt, you can obtain this visa from any airport (including all airports in the Sinai).The procedure is the same at every airport: they’re issued at the foreign exchange bank windows near the passport control points and come as a sticker you can put in your passport.
These visas are NOT available when entering through the Taba land borders or marina. These borders only issue the 14-day Sinai-only visas; if planning to travel through these borders, be sure to arrange your visa in advance: Egypt has consulates in both Eilat in Israel and Aqaba in Jordan.
Join a Walk
Join a Walk on the Abraham Path