Sinai is the cultural and geographic bridge between Africa and Eurasia. On this peninsula are located some of the oldest known human settlements, some of which date back to the stone age half a million years ago. The area of St. Catherine was quite heavily populated in the Iron Age (1200B.C.) up until the Byzantine period (600 A.D.). Since then it has experienced a steep population decline. After the Arab conquest in 600 AD the Sinai was dominated by nomadic populations, the ancestors of today's Sinai Bedouin tribes.
Sinai's mountains contain some of the world's most ancient rocks, dating back millions of years. Most of these are granites from various periods forming a unique landscape of varying shapes and colors. The area consists of high mountan ranges, narrow and lush mountain valleys with natural watersources and green gardnes, canyons, water pools, wide open desert valleys running towards the coast and distant peaks, occasional settlements and oasises with date palms and people still living a traditional way of life. This complex mountain wadi system is found mostly at an elevation of around 1500 mteres, giving it a pleasant climate all year round.
We are running treks in four areas, the Galt Region, the Ain Hodra Region, the Umm Shomar Region and the Wadi Feiran Region.
The Galt Region
The Galt Region is located in the central Sinai mountain range where Egypt's highest peaks are concentrated. It is characterized by sharp mountaintops and smooth granite massifs, a labyrinth of dry riverbeds dotted with green orchards, gardens, huge rock formations, granite water pools and narrow canyons. This region includes Sinai's highest, Mt. Catherine at 2642m, along with other impressive peaks. Scattered throughout the area are several water pools large enough to swim in, Galt el Azraq and Kharazet el Shaq to name but a few.
The area is home to the Jebeliya Bedouin. Beyond the gathering of indigenous medicinal plants and wild herbs, they build stone walled gardens near water sources where a wide variety of fruit is cultivated. There are many well preserved Byzantine ruins in the area along with Greek Orthodox monasteries still in activity. More recent historical sites include the palace of Abbas Hilmi Pasha on the mountain named after him. From there, the view affords excellent vistas over the entire central range and the Northern plateau.
The Ain Hodra Region
Variety is at the core of the Ain Hodra Region treks. Hikers choosing this program will walk through remote deserts expanses, over massive sand dunes, wind through hidden canyons, bask in the shade of age old oases, and have the chance to ride camels on the long wadi stretches that link these marvelous attractions. From beautiful sandstone formations, to massive granite peaks, to open sandy plateaus this hike offers a great overview of South Sinai's unique geological make-up. The reward for tired legs is always a dip in the red sea, whether in one of the remote Nuweiba beach camps or in Ras Abu Galum, just north of Dahab.
The Umm Shomar Region
Jebel Umm Shomar, the second highest peak in Sinai (2586 m), stands on the Eastern perimeter of the high mountain range. From its peak, the entire southern horn of the peninsula can be seen on one side, and the high mountains on the other. The area is characterized by a complex system of long wadis - dried out river beds, leading down to the sea - carved out by regular flashfloods. Along the way are lush oases with date palms supporting small Bedouin settlements. The Byzantine ruins in the area, including the deserted Monasteries of Antus and Rimhan, are not to be missed.
The area is Ulad Said tribal territory; many of them are still living the traditional Bedouin way of life. Apart from the experience of trekking through amazing landscape, this is a rare cultural insight into this distinctive culture.
The Wadi Feiran Region
Wadi Feiran, the largest oasis in South Sinai lies at the foot of majestic Mt. Serbal, originally thought as the biblical Mt. Sinai. There are a number of historical, religious and archeological sites in Wadi Feiran, like the ruined old and lush new Orthodox Monastery, Mt. Munaja, Nabatean and Byzantine sights. Mt. Serbal harbours a number of mountain top basins with lush vegetation and a small group of ibex, and offers views hard to match anywhere, to the hills and the coastal plain around it and the high mountains in the distance.
North of Wadi Feiran there are vast sandy desert plains with significant archeological and natural sights, such as the Valley of the Inscriptions, the turquoise mines of the pharaos in Wadi Maqara, the pharaonic temples at Serabit el Khadim, and the Forest of Pillars at Mt. Foga.