Historical Odyssey

Historical Odyssey: a guest speaker journey

September 2019

We are very excited to be in discussion with a new guest speaker who will lead an adventure through Sinai in September 2019.

As an Old Testament and Hebrew scholar, they will reveal secrets of this ancient desert landscape, as we travel on foot and by camel under the guidance of our Bedouin companions. We will begin in Cairo and follow in the footsteps of Moses as we climb Mt Sinai, finishing at St Catherine’s Monastery.

Journey overview

Our guest speaker will interpret lost languages, untangle myths and reveal hidden stories behind an incredible array of ancient sites including chalcolithic tombs, rock inscriptions and the remote Monastery of St Catherine which lies in the shadow of Mount Sinai.

Our journey begins in ancient Egypt with a day exploring Cairo, before we embark on an adventure across the South Sinai desert towards Mount Sinai. The desert journey will involve riding on camels under the expert guidance of the local Bedouin, as well as optional trekking on foot with daypacks, supported by camels to carry main luggage and with back-up from 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Provisional itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairo

We fly from London Heathrow to Cairo International Airport where we are met on arrival and transfer to our hotel for the night.
O/n 4* hotel, Cairo

Day 2: Cairo

We view the spectacular Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza and then visit the famous Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. Our guest speaker will reveal features in the ancient Egyptian world that link with Old Testament times and even Bedouin society today, setting the scene for our journey across the desert.
O/n 4* hotel, Cairo

Day 3: To Sharm el Sheikh and into the desert

In the morning we have a 1-hour internal flight to Sharm el Sheikh Airport and from here we head into the beautiful sandstone desert. On arrival at our camp we are welcomed by Suleiman of the Muzeina tribe, he is an old friend of Wind Sand & Stars and his family has hosted our groups for over 25 years. During the afternoon we have time to acclimatise, with optional walks, such as one to the oasis of Ayn Khudra which lies on the old pilgrim route from Jerusalem to St Catherine and many rock inscriptions carved by these early pilgrims are still visible on the rocks. In the evening we enjoy our dinner around the camp fire as our guest speaker tells us some of the stories of this ancient land.
O/n under the stars

Days 4-5: Camel trek

Late evening and early morning, members of the local Bedouin tribe and their camels arrive at our camp for the start of our camel trek. This is a unique opportunity to travel with the Bedouin through their land, experiencing at first hand the slow pace of traditional desert travel, the ever-changing scenery and their warm hospitality. We trek past golden sandstone cliffs eroded by the wind, through long sandy valleys dotted with acacia trees, near scattered Bedouin encampments and oases and in the footsteps of people who have travelled across Sinai through the centuries. We will pass interesting sites and features such as the Nawamis, remarkable tombs dating from the Bronze Age, where our guest speaker will explain the context and continuity of traditions.

The route is flexible and there will be regular breaks and a long rest for lunch, with plenty of shade from the sun. You will each have your own trekking camel. The saddles are well padded and comfortable. In the evenings we make camp and can relax around the fire, enjoying the remarkable night skies and cups of hot, sweet tea with the Bedouin.
O/n each night under the stars

Days 6 & 7: St Catherine’s Monastery & Mount Sinai

In the morning we travel by vehicle to Mount Sinai in the heart of Sinai’s rugged mountains. We will be based at St Catherine’s Monastery which lies in the shadow of Mount Sinai. Founded in the sixth century by the Emperor Justinian, the original towering monastery walls, built to protect the monks from marauding tribes, still stand. Inside we can visit the magnificent Basilica church and see some of the many rare and beautiful icons that form part of the Monastery’s world famous collection of Early Christian art. There is also time to visit the museum within the Monastery that displays many ancient manuscripts and treasures.

We follow in the footsteps of Moses and climb Mount Sinai, a steady walk for 2-3 hours, with the option of hiring camels until the final steps to the summit. The top is marked by a small chapel and mosque and there are magnificent views of the surrounding desert and mountains.

O/n St Catherine’s Monastery guesthouse

The final itinerary for these two days will depend upon the group, local conditions and also Monastery opening times.

Day 8: Depart

In the morning we depart for Sharm el Sheikh and our return flight home via Cairo.

All desert itineraries are subject to change.

Costs

Land arrangements £1,075

Flight £550 – £650 approximately, London to Sharm el Sheikh via Cairo

Minimum number 12

 Cost Includes

  • All local transport and accommodation
  • Full board (two cooked meals & picnic lunch in the desert including bottled drinking water)
  • Qualified Wind Sand & Stars desert leader
  • English speaking Egyptian guide
  • Local Bedouin guides and camels
  • St Catherine’s NP fee and Museum entrance fee
  • Comprehensive travel insurance

Cost Excludes

  • Egyptian Visa (US$25)
  • Gratuities £50 (invoiced)
  • Single Supplement £145 per person (invoiced)
  • Soft drinks and any other personal expenses
  • Camel up Mt Sinai approximately £20 one way (optional, payable on site in Egyptian pounds)
  • Additional transport and accommodation for separate arrival or onward travel outside the main itinerary

Visa

Please note a visa is required for this itinerary and can be obtained on arrival in Cairo. If you do not hold a British or EU passport please refer to the Egyptian Consulate www.egyptianconsulate.co.uk/Visas.php for guidance.

ATOL protection

The air holidays and flights in this brochure are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 6382. For further information, visit the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk.

Get in touch

“The whole trip was AMAZING – thank you so much.”

Francis Burkitt, St Catherine tailor made, August 2017

“We got more out of our little adventure than we had ever hoped for, thanks to a country of huge diversity and historical interest and to a very special guide.”

Cunningham family, Jordan tailor made, April 2017

“So many thoughts about our wonderful trip to St Catherine; the fantastic warmth of welcome from the Egyptians, Fathers Justin and Nilus, and the unique history which we felt privileged to be given access to. In my book, how could one not enjoy and be inspired!”

Julia Palmer, St Catherine Retreat, February 2017

“Huge thanks to all at Wind, Sand & Stars for an amazing trip. John’s passion for Ethiopia fires his erudition and he gave us more insights into the country, past and present, than we could ever have gained from local guides.”

Christine Dunmow, Exploring Ethiopia’s Orthodox History with John Binns 2016

“I am hugely impressed with Wind Sand & Stars’ organisation and their relationship with the Bedouin family who looked after us. These local contacts made the experience especially rich.”

Richard Ames-Lewis, Adventure into Silence, October 2014

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