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Walking with Bedouin in the Sinai Desert

  • St Catherine's, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt

Last updated: 10 March, 2024

The Jebaliya are a Bedouin tribe who have protected the monastery of St Catherine’s for many centuries. Their knowledge of the area is the key to a great desert walk here – through hidden gardens, past beautiful rock formations, and to remote, simple lodges.

The walking in this region is spectacular; to do it with an authentic Bedouin guide – and a cameleer to carry baggage – makes for a unique and memorable experience.

Logistics

Price from: £20
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 1+ day

Getting there & doing it

You cannot walk in the St Catherine’s Protectorate area by yourself. There are plenty of operators running tours and private excursions; it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Sharm el Sheik.

For day walks, you can just turn up and usually find a guide. The St Catherine’s Protectorate has produced a number of small guides to walking trails in the region; pick on up in St Catherine’s. The most rewarding day walk around St Catherine’s takes you on a loop through the valleys beneath the peak, visiting desert gardens and the occasional Bedouin camp.

For anything longer, you’ll need to book ahead. There are many options for longer treks into the desert, from overnight to week-long treks through coloured canyons and other wonders.

Trips start from St Catherine’s village, beside the monastery. The best – and most comfortable – way of doing it is to stay overnight at St Catherine’s and start early in the morning.

Accommodation is simple but decent and includes meals. There are also other hotels nearby. The monastery guest house has a good restaurant serving simple soups and grills.

Sheik Mousa is a well-established Bedouin-run outfit offering a range of treks in the Sinai desert. They also run a simple lodge in St Catherine’s village.

When to do it

Trips run all year round. If you’re planning on climbing the mountain to see sunrise, you will need to leave Sharm around 11pm. Otherwise tours leave around 7am.

Spring and autumn are the best times to go walking. Snow falls some winters, and soaring temperatures in summer (July-August) make it unadvisable to go at those times of year.

Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Sharm El-Sheikh

  • Sinai Peninsular, Egypt

View of the Mosque Masjid El-Fateh on a sunny day. Colorful Mosque Masjid alsahaba Sharm El Sheikh in old town.

Destination guide

With world-class scuba diving, desert hills above, reliable sunshine and almost no rain – Sharm el-Sheik has become one of the world’s top beach destinations. It’s a package holiday nightmare, but you can escape to smaller towns nearby.