Egypt, Cairo and the Sinai

Photographs by Shaun O'Boyle

We made a one month visit to Egypt, spending about 2 weeks of that time on the Sinai peninsula at Naama bay, Dahab and a visit to Mount Sinai. We travel by local transportation and with backpacks, so we get to see a bit more of wha the locals see when they travel.

Cairo, Egypt. The Pyramids of Giza can be seen in the distance from the Cairo Tower on an island in the Nile River. Cairo was our first stop in Egypt, it is a huge city with incredible smog and traffic. Fighting your way across Tahir square traffic is a hair raising experience. We spent a couple days exploring the winding alleys and momuments of Cairo, eating good food at Felfela's, then we took a bus out to the Sinai Peninsula to Sharm el Sheik, Dahab and beyond to Mt Sinai. 

St Catherine's monastery sits in this beautiful valley in the shadow of Mt. Sinai, or Gebel Musa (Mountain of Moses) as it is called locally. You can visit the monastery to see the old bones of deceased monks. The monestary is also the place to start the climb up Mt Sinai. We stayed in a village a couple miles from the monastary and rose in the wee hours to start the climb. It was just starting to get light when we set out and was really quite cold up here in the clear mountain air. 

 

 

St Catherines sits at 5000 ft  and the summit of Mt. Sinai is at 7500 ft so it is a good climb to the summit.   There are two routes you can follow, one called the camel path which is less steep and takes a longer round about route, the other route follows the steps laid up the mountain by a penitent monk. It is pretty much a  constant stairway all the way to the summit from St Catherine's. The going is quite steep but with fantastic views along this ancient way. There are occasional structures, chapels and archways along the path as well as a fantastic landscape of rocks shaped by the blowing sand and wind. 

 

Some of the archways framed fantastic views of the surrounding mountain range. It is a rugged sparsely populated area right in the heart of the Sinai Peninsula. There is little  sign of civilization in the distance as you climb up the mountain. 

 

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