Book your individual trip, stress-free with local travel experts
Book your individual trip, stress-free with local travel experts
All of Sinai’s mountains are very ancient, and their variety, in terms of texture, colour, shape and vegetation, is eternally fascinating – especially in the very early morning or early evening when their contours and colours are seen most clearly. A climb to the top of 2,285-metre-high (7,497 ft) Jebel Musa, popularly known as Mount Sinai, offers far-reaching views of the Sinai Desert that haven’t changed since biblical times.
There are two principal routes to the top and it takes about two and a half hours each way. The longer and less steep route, Siket El Bashait, can also be negotiated by camel (for hire in Feiran village).
The steeper, more direct route, Siket Sayidna Musa, is up the 3,750 “steps of penitence” – rough stone steps that were likely constructed in the 6th or 7th century.
The climb is fairly easy, but coming down is trickier, and care should be taken. The view from the top is magnificent, particularly at dawn or sunset. In fact, many visitors book onto tours that arrive at approximately 1am at the foot of the mountain in order to climb to the top to watch the sunrise.
Little café stalls on the path up serve hot coffee and tea and snacks. After dark, ensure you have a torch and certainly bring a jacket because the wind really blows at the top.
Another option is to climb Jebel Katherin (Mount Catherine), the highest point in Egypt at more than 2,640 metres (8,500ft), which has an even better view.
It is approached up the wadi on Jebel Musa’s western side, but this is a challenging one-day trek up and down and a guide is required. But the descent from Mount Catherine to the east traverses enthralling landscapes all the way to the sea.
As the site where God supposedly revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses, Mt Sinai is one of the most important religious sites in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year. But it’s not just the religious significance that draws visitors to this remote mountain in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula; there are also a number of unique experiences to be had.
Here are the five best things to do at Mount Sinai.
St. Catherine’s Monastery, situated at the base of Mount Sinai, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited monasteries in the world, with a history dating back over 1500 years. Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century, it has remained an important site of pilgrimage for Christians ever since.
You can explore the grounds, including the church, chapel, and library, which houses some of the oldest and most important Christian manuscripts in the world.
Inside St. Catherine’s Monastery is a small museum that displays an impressive collection of religious artifacts and artwork, including icons, manuscripts, and textiles. Visitors can learn about the history of the monastery and the role it has played in the development of the Christian faith.
Located within St. Catherine’s Monastery, the Church of the Transfiguration is a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture. It is said to have been built on the site where Moses is said to have witnessed the burning bush. Visitors can admire the intricate mosaics and frescoes that adorn the walls and ceiling of the church.
For many visitors, the highlight of a visit to Mount Sinai is climbing the Steps of Repentance, a staircase of 3,750 steps that leads to the summit of the mountain. The climb is challenging, but the views from the top are well worth it. At the summit, visitors can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the Sinai desert.
At the foot of Mount Sinai is a small chapel that is said to mark the spot where Moses saw the burning bush. The bush is said to be the same one that God spoke to Moses from and is therefore considered a sacred site by Christians and Jews alike.
Visitors can view the bush through a small window in the chapel and take in the peaceful atmosphere of this holy site.
Looking for inspiration for your trip? Talk to our Egyptian travel experts.
There are several areas to consider staying in for those planning to visit Mt Sinai.
This small town at the foot of Mt Sinai has a range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury resorts, and is the closest to the mountain and St Catherine's Monastery.
This seaside resort town is about an hour and a half's drive from Mt Sinai but offers a wider range of accommodation options and a vibrant atmosphere.
Located about two and a half hours' drive from Mt Sinai, the massive resort town Sharm El Sheikh offers luxury hotels and resorts as well as budget options.
A quieter alternative to Dahab, Nuweiba offers a more laid-back atmosphere and some budget accommodation options. It is about two hours' drive from Mt Sinai.
Before embarking on a trip to Mt Sinai, there are several tips to keep in mind to make the most of your trip.
Visitors should be aware that the mountain is located in a desert region, and temperatures can vary greatly between day and night. Therefore, it is essential to bring plenty of water, warm clothing, and sun protection.
Travellers should be in good physical condition to climb Mt Sinai. Although the trek is fairly straightforward, it can take up to four hours to the summit and back down.
The best time to climb Mt Sinai is either in the early morning to see the sunrise or late afternoon to see the sunset. Weekdays are quite that the weekend. The majority of hikers will climb in the middle of the night in order to reach the summit in time for sunrise.
There is an option to hire a camel to take visitors part of the way up the mountain for an additional fee from the village below.
Dress modestly for St Catherine's Monastery. Photography is also prohibited in certain parts of the monastery.
While it is possible to climb Mt Sinai on your own, many visitors prefer to hire a guide or join a tour for safety and convenience. Guides can provide additional information about the history and significance of the mountain, as well as navigate the trail in the dark. There are plenty of tour companies in the surrounding towns that offer guided hikes, transportation, and accommodation.
Most travellers will visit Mt Sinai from Dahab or Sharm El Sheikh and will arrive by bus, taxi and private tour.
There are daily buses from Cairo to Wadi Feiran with limited buses leaving Dahab and Sharm El Sheikh to Mt Sinai as well.
Taxis are also available for those looking for more convenience. Taxis can be hired in either Dahab or Sharm El Sheikh with cars waiting at the monastery car park for return rides.
The best time to visit Mount Sinai in Egypt is during the cooler months between October and April. During this time, the temperatures are more comfortable for hiking and outdoor activities. The peak season for visitors is from December to February when the weather is at its coolest and driest.
It is important to note that during the summer months between May and September, the temperatures can be very hot, which can make hiking uncomfortable and even dangerous. Therefore, it is best to avoid visiting during this time, especially if you are not used to hot weather.
Additionally, it is recommended to avoid visiting during major Islamic holidays such as Ramadan, as many local businesses and services may be closed or have limited hours.
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