Day 1: Arrive
We are met on arrival at Sharm el Sheikh International Airport by our local English-speaking Egyptian guide and transfer to a nearby hotel on the Red Sea coast.
O/n 4* hotel
Days 2-3: Acclimatisation and desert silence
In the morning we depart for 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. A gentle pace allows us some time to acclimatise to our new environment and experience the desert silence. There will be 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. During the evenings there is time to relax and enjoy the unique silence and space of the desert.
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 desert lands, experiencing at first hand the slow pace of traditional desert travel, the ever-changing desert 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 may also see the Nawamis, remarkable tombs dating from the Bronze Age.
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 the Monastery of St Catherine in the heart of Sinai’s rugged mountains. Founded in the sixth century by the Emperor Justinian, the original towering monastery walls, built to protect the monks from marauding tribes, still stand. The Monastery lies in the shadow of Mount Sinai and houses the burning bush and also the well of Moses. 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 continue in the centuries’ old tradition of pilgrimage as we follow in the footsteps of Moses up Mount Sinai. We can follow the traditional camel path – camels can be ridden this far – or it is a steady walk for 2-3 hours. For the ascent to the summit, we follow the Byzantine steps, the rocks to either side carved with crosses and signs of earlier pilgrims. The top is marked by a small chapel and mosque and there are magnificent views of the surrounding desert and mountains. Beneath the summit lies the Garden of Elijah, a small green plateau with a chapel commemorating the cave where Elijah hid from God on the mountain, where we can rest before our descent.
We enjoy our final afternoon and evening absorbing the special atmosphere of the Monastery and reflecting upon our time in Sinai, as we also begin to prepare ourselves for our return journey.
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.
All desert itineraries are subject to change.