The town of St.Catherine is placed in an elevation of 1600 meters, in the region of the South Sinai which holds a Monastery (called as of ‘St.Catherine’) the oldest of the World, which attracts many visitors yearly.
This town is very holy, due to the fact, that it was here, in its mountains, where the prophet Moses received the 10 commandments from God.
Do I need to be religious to visit this site?
It is absolutely not a requirement to be religious to visit this site, not in the official sense (like for example to visit Mecca, the holiest Mosque of the Islam religion placed in Saudi Arabia, yes you have to belong to the Islamic religion, but in the case of this holy site, none will ask or require you to proof religiousness of any kind).
In terms of personal experience, if you are a religious person you will for sure enjoy more the experience as you may feel a deeper connection to the place and know the Biblical chapters in which Moses receives the 10 commandments, however the beauty of the place, and its variety of hikes to do, will make the experience enough enjoyable and interesting both, religious and secular visitors. But of course, religion has a big weight in this area.
How do I reach St. Catherine town?
From the town of Dahab
You can take a bus from Dahab, normally not very big and with quite restrictive schedules (there’s no more than 2 different times of Depart). The cost is 200 pounds (10€), quite high if we take on account the short distance (no more than 128km ride distance).
The ride takes no more than 2h. if you wanna arrive or leave the town of St.Catherine at other times different from the scheduled ones, you can still take a taxi. If you can share the ride with someone else you won’t pay more than 300 pounds person (15€) which is a bit more than the bus but also faster and can adapt the time you prefer.
Your 3 day stay in St Catherine ⛪️
Your guide: Younis
He’s a perfect guide around St. Catherine area. He speaks good english and knows the area perfectly. We spent 3 days with him, he picked us up in where the bus dropped us, brought us everywhere by car, guided all our hikes around the Mountains and Valleys, made delicious breakfast, dinner, prepare night bonfire to watch the amazing stars of the sky, and even brought us to his mother house, who invited us to have dinner, tea, and juices, and who has a hand-made purses shop.
He was extremely welcoming, dedicated every minute of his time to show us around this beautiful and biblical area, offered us all what he had, and made us feel at home.
So definitely, if you ever plan to visit the St.Catherine town and enjoy its mountain hikes, he’s your guide to be. Avoid taking the bus at 4am to hike during the night and watch the sunrise at Moses Mountain and then leave, as most of visitors do, because you’ll be missing the time to really get to know deeper and by a local this area.
Your bedouin Lodge camp: Eidlodge
While my friend and I has Younis, as a local tour guide who become a friend that treated us as part of his family, dedicated us all of his time during our 3 days stay, and allowed us discover this area under a local point of view, he stayed at his Lodge bedouin Camp, which is called: ‘Eidlodge’.
The Eidlodge, is in the highest point of one of the mountains, is perfect to start trekking ‘Gebel Banat’ (the mountain’s Girl), it offers cozy rooms for only 170 pounds (6-7€) per night, and it has a toilet which is placed right under the sky. The experience of staying there, with its owners, all bedouins and locals of the region, who were born and raised in that area, is a unique travel experience in the South Sinai region of Egypt that you shouldn’t miss.
I am showing you here a bit more of the Bedouin Camp EidLodge
Itinerary for the days in St.Catherine Valleys
Before starting delivering to you a complete itinerary for a 3 days stay in this area (something quite unique to find as most travelers are hiking Moses Mountain in the night to see it at sunrise and then leave the area), I would like to highlight once again, that no matter what’s your degree of religiousness in life. If you believe in God and read the Bible, if you practise religion or you believe in God without practising, if you embrace all religions or if you simply don’t believe at all. The point is, the place has its level of holiness, and if you have some sort of religious believe you may enjoy that part as well, though, if you are not a believer but like TREKKING, that trip experience and Itinerary is RIGHT FOR YOU as well.
Because getting to know this St.Catherine area, is all about doing TREKKINGS, CLIMBING MOUNTAINS, drink tea and eat with the bedouins, walk around its endless typical Valleys, encounter some lonely camels, try some fruits from the trees, watch the starts with a bonfire at night and having NO WIFI connection at all.
It’s an experience that some of the visitors take to enlighten its spiritual side, by engaging into a ‘Silence Retreat’ as some of the guest of the Camp was doing, to connect with Allah and the Divine forces through the practise of Silence. To find the Divinity and God. Others just want to enjoy the nature landscape and connect into real life conversations with locals, whatever is your reason, forget being checking your Instagram constantly, forget about parties and other banal activities. St. Catherine holds the purest life energy. Go and take it!
Day 1: arrive at midday by Bus and do a small trek to 'Talaa Valley'.
The first day in St.Catherine we arrived at midday by bus. Our tour guide, Younis, picked us up by car in the place the bus had dropped us, and take us to show us the town. A part from the well known Monastery, that was closed by that time, St.Catherine town itself does not have anything special to see or do. A part from a couple of super markets, some houses, and a post office. After this short tour we start a 1h trek (very short) around ‘Talaa Valley’, where we encounter several oats, typical trees, stones and so on. After the short trek, Younis, brought us to his mother house where she kindly offered us dinner, and some typical bedouin tea, and right after it, we went to the Lodge Camp to leave our staff, and prepared a bonfire to watch the stars of the sky. Because there’s nothing around that area, you can watch the clearer sky and stars ever. Is really fascinating. We went to bed early, given that the next day the ‘big trek’ was awaiting us.
Pictures about the 'bonfire', the 'hike' and the homemade bedouin dinner
2nd day: the day of the Big Trek to 'Gebel Banat' (mountain of the girl)
The mountain of ‘Gebel Banat’ is a 1780 m high mountain that offers the best mountains views of the region. The trek to arrive to the mountain last around 4h the way to go and 4h more the way back, at least if you start walking from the downside of where the Lodge is located. To climb the mountain is 40 mins up and 30 down.
The total distance was of 25km. The difficulty of the trek, differs from the point in which you are. For example, when we start walking the path was difficulty level 1, or easy. Then, when we started reaching the first mountain to go up, we start encountering more stones and more pendant so the difficulty became level 2: a bit difficult but still reasonably ok. At the end of the trek, when we start to climb the mountain, difficulty became level 3: more difficult and challenging. Do what you can. I did the whole trek in spite of the very peak of the mountain, but still was proud as I am not a trekking person and I did overcome my limits in what it comes to climb and go up mountains, walked for 8h in a row, for 25km distance and fell blessed of the experience!
More details about our 2nd day and our Trek
The second day we waked up very early : 7.30 am. We started our day having an amazing breakfast that our tour guide and friend Younis will prepare with our help, and that will be us the necessary energy to complete our trek successfully.
We then went with him to the city centre to buy some energetic bars, fruits and drinks (very important to at least carry 1.5L of water as the sun even in March was quite strong and also to put sunscreen over you face and shoulders before start the trek).
Before 10 am we started walking the way up of the first mountain. We were with him the whole trek.
He was not only guiding us during our trek, but also teaching us about the plants we were encountering our way and its multiple health benefits and applications, plus he was putting mystical music while we were trekking, that help feeling motivated and in peace while doing the physical effort.
We stopped several ways during our trek to eat and contemplate the unique biblical landscape, until the very beginning of the climb of the mountain, where we found a bedouins home that invited us to have tea. We climbed the mountain and on our way back had a lot of conversations about the Egyptian culture and traditions. We arrived back to the camp right in time to watch the sunset. 8.5h trek, 25 km distance, with medium difficulty, no internet connection but full connection with the nature and its beauty. It was an exhausting but so far rewarding day! I loved it.
We ended up the day, having a slow cocked dinner (by slow I mean we were cooking it for at least 2h hehe). We have also interesting conversations during dinner, and went to sleep earlier as we felt very tired from the trek. Also without checking our phones, because as I said before there’s no internet anywhere, which I feel it’s perfect to disconnect from social media world.
3rd day trek, our last day in St.Catherine
Last day trek, was through some biblical valleys, the difficulty of the trek was low, it was a short and quite easy walk, with some little complications on the way.
We visited some plantation, saw the palms in the middle of the dry landscapes, and after our trek we took our staff and a taxi came up to pick us a up and to brings us back to ‘civilisation’. If Dahab, can anyway, be counted as civilisation, taking on account it is just a small town by the Red Sea, perfect for divers, digital nomads and lay down people.
Some more pictures of the last Valley trek
To end up with...
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