You ever heard of my g, Moses? Ever wanted to climb to the place where he received the Ten Commandments from God? Ever wanted to see THE Burning Bush as described in the holy book? Nah me neither but here’s a hike you can do that is a little off the grid and not as basic as my short stint in Yosemite.
So, where/what am I talking about? In the depths of the Egyptian desert is a place called Saint Catherine’s Monastery; this monastery lies at the bottom of a mountain called, Mount Sinai or to locals, ‘Gebel Musa’ (Mount Moses). Bare tourists flock to the site on pilgrimage but I know you’re all in it for the Insta so here’s how to ‘do’ Mount Sinai right.
St Catherine’s Monastery is located slap bang in the centre of a region called the Sinai. A region often overlooked by the Egyptian government and not ventured to by many tourists due to its unsafe narrative. Since the revolution in 2011, Egypt’s tourism has dropped significantly and unfortunately, the Sinai isn’t an area where political turmoil has ceased.
However, the trouble is closely contained in the northern part of the area so you will actually be fine visiting. It’s for the GRAM C’MON LOSERS.
The British Government advises all but essential travel to the area in which the monastery is located. You just have to ask yourself one question: Is my blog essential? Obvs.
Nah, but seriously, this means that most travel insurers won’t cover you so you know, be careful, don’t break a leg on the mountain, don’t get bamboozled by a camel etc.
Ok, on to the hike. Where should you stay? There are a couple of hotels (if you can call them that) near the monastery but after reading the reviews I decided not to put my body through that. One review said they had to sleep in their dirty clothes from the hike because the beds were that dirty. Niiiiiicee.
So, stay in the nearby cities of Dahab or Sharm El Sheikh. If you went on a package beach holiday with your family in between the years of 2000 and 2011, you probably went to Sharm El Sheikh, or it was a strong option. It’s a beautiful beach town. Both are world renowned for their diving spots and landscapes. Kill two birds with one stone and have a nice resort to come back to after the hike.
The hotels will run tours to St Catherine’s but will rip you off. APPARENTLY, the ‘done’ thing is to start climbing at 12 (midnight) in order to catch the sunrise at the top at 5am/6am. Don’t do that.
Ask the hotel for a taxi to take you and pay for a mountain guide when you get there. Isn’t part of the enjoyment of hiking getting to see where you’re going? Also, wouldn’t you rather SEE the camel shit you’re stepping in?
Anyway, if you go any time other than Summer then you’ll be able to climb in the day. It’s not that high up and if you’re relatively alright health-wise, it won’t take you that long. Fun fact: It’s 3,750 steps up. HA HA grant me the sweet release of death now.
There are two routes up the mountain. Numero 1: The ‘Camel Path’; this takes 2-3 hours one way and is longer and shallower than the other route, which brings me onto numero 2: The ‘Steps of Penitence’; this bad boy is 1.5-2 hours one way and is more direct. FYI because numero 2 is only available to climb during the day and is a little harder, you won’t see any tourists.
Once you reach the top you’ll be greeted by a chapel built in 1934 on the ruins of a 16th century church but who cares about that right? You’ll be standing in the EXACT spot where Moses received the 10 commandments after spending 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. The EXACT spot. I’m calling bullshit but fair.
When you come back down, you’ll be able to visit the monastery (the actual attraction), a UNESCO World Heritage site – am I impressing you yet ehhh? Well, actually, you might be able to, you might not be able to. The monastery is closed for most of the time, open from 9am-12pm on most days and only open for 1 hour on Fridays and Sundays. BUT, bribe the doorman who looks like a villain from a Disney film and you’ll get exclusive access.
I know I shouldn’t be promoting the whole bribing thing but a priest’s gotta eat too.
The monastery was built between 548 and 565, it’s one of the oldest in the world and has the oldest operating library in the world. Prior to the British Library it was home to one of the four great manuscripts that contained the entire text of the Bible.
I’m not gonna bore you with the rest of the history of the place, you can Google it or message me if you’re interested in that BUT if you are interested in doing something a little different, going somewhere a little different and experiencing something a little different, then please, go.
Egypt has so much to offer and it would be a shame if my Insta game wasn’t rivalled by at least one of you xo
Guide used: Ashraf – GREAT GUY, became my insta boyfriend for the afternoon. If you’re planning on going, message me for his deets.