The Sinai High Mountain Region, found within the circular dyke around the town of St. Catherine, is a fantastic yet little-known trekking destination. Egypt’s highest peak, Mt. Katherine is an impressive mountain, and even the climb to Mt. Sinai is a demanding one. The region has a colder climate then the rest of Sinai, and even snow is not uncommon in winter. In the high mountain wadis there is considerable more water than in the desert, feeding water pools and sustaing hundreds of orchards. The high mountains extend all the way to the coastal plain in the west and south, with two of the most impressive peaks, Jebel Umm Shaumar and Jebel Serbal on the perimeter.
Treks start from the town of St. Catherine and can be organized on the spot overnight, although booking in advance does make sense. Camels are often needed to carry bags, food and mineral water, if you don’t rely on local water, but it is possible to do many treks without camels, carrying all your stuff yourself. The treks are usually all inclusive, that is guide, camel (if needed), all food, hot drinks, water, mattress and blankets are provided. Sometimes accommodation in garden is to be paid on top.
Popular destinations in the high mountains include Mt. Sinai, Mt. Katherine, Mt. Abbas Basha, Galt el Azraq, Bab el Donya, Kharazet el Shaq, and further away Jebel Umm Shomar and Jebel Serbal.
More information about places of interest -> The High Mountain Region.
You can read more about trekking and safari, see the main routes, see thousands of photos linked to places of interest, and download Google Earth and GPS files from: sinaitrekkingandsafari.com
Operators specialising in the High Mountain Region
The High Mountain Region is home to the Jabaleya tribe, and hikes in the area, with the exception of Mt Sinai, have to go through the tribal operator, Sheikh Mousa (Mountains Tours Office). Guides and camels are assigned according to a rotating system, which provides work to all the families of the tribe. The system, called ‘dor’, has positive and negative sides, both for the visitor and the community – read more about the tribal laws. You can also find independent Bedouin guides and tour operators who offer treks to the high mountain region, sorting the tribal issues themselves. All operators can arrange transfer from the coastal resorts to and accommodation in St Katherine. Below is a list of those operators and guides who have an internet page, it is as complete as we know. Please note, many guides speak excellent English or other languages, but written communication is not always the best.
Managed by the two Sheikh Mousas, the Mountain Tours Office is the official tribal operator of the Jabaleya Bedouin. Guides are allocated according to a rotating system, which means visitors can’t choose the guide. Usually the guides are quite good, and speak some English, but you cannot be guaranteed you’ll get the very best – you could, but it depends on whose turn it is. The focus is on hikes, treks and other programs in the high mountains around St. Katherine, but camel or jeep safaris to the desert are also organised.
Darb Sina (St Catherine)
Darb Sina (درب سيناء), which means”Sinai Trail”, is operated by Ragab Eid, a friendly and professional Bedouin guide. He offers treks in the high mountains and safaris in the desert, plus all the usual programs such as Bedouin dinner, Mt Sinai hike, and so on.
Hike Sinai (St Catherine)
Treks and safari programs organised in the High Mountains of Sinai and the surrounding deserts, by Suliman el-Heneni, a bright young Bedouin guide. His English is excellent, both spoken and written, and he understands customers’ needs perfectly.
Jebeli Salim Abu Sana (St Catherine)
Jebeli, as he is called by friends, is a charming and sophisticated Bedouin guide with more than 20 years of experience in both the High Mountain Region and the desert.
Ramadan Abu Ghalaba – Sinai My Love (St Catherine)
One of the most talented young guides, Ramadan Abu Ghalaba can organise walking treks in the High Mountains, support personal meditation in the mountain gardens and arrange jeep and camel safaris.
Saint Catherine Trips (St Catherine)
Badri Mohammed, the Bedouin guide behind Saint Catherine Trips, is another experienced operator organising hiking and trekking trips to the high mountains and the desert. He is one of the few guides who offers programs to the remote Jebel Umm Shomar area.
Sheikh Sina Bedouin Treks (St Catherine)
Sheikh Sina is a Bedouin run operation founded by an EU funded initiative. It was the first operator offering long distance treks, such as the “Coast to Coast” program from Ras Shaitan to El Tor via St Catherine, or the challenging “Peak to peak to peak” trek.
Tales of Sinai (St Catherine/Germany)
Tales of Sinai is a joint venture by Mohamed Eid, a local Bedouin, and Tanja, an enthusiastic desert traveller from Germany. Mohamed is a well educated young man, who has collected many Bedouin folk stories to be publishes as a book, if he finds a publisher. He organises a range of programs, and was one of the first offering bicycle tours in the desert.
Wilderness Ventures Egypt (St Catherine/Sharm el Sheikh)
Founded by Gordon Wilkinson, Wilderness Ventures Egypt organises tours of the St Catherine monastery, exploration of Mt Sinai, trekking in the High Mountains, lessons in camel riding, camel safaris, star nights, botany hunts and an introduction to Bedouin culture and traditions.