There are four permanent water pools in the Sinai high mountains, and you also find many seasonal pools, cascades and streams for many months after good rains. The High Mountain Region, falling within a 10-kilometre radius of St Catherine city, receives more precipitation than any other part of Egypt. Still, rains are not that common and they can be very localised, which means some seasonal places might remain dry while others fill up. Some locations however are more likely to have water: they are, along with the permanent pools, marked on the map below.
Click links below to see relevant photos of the particular place.
1. Kharaza – The nearest permanent water pools from St Catherine, found in a little canyon in Wadi Mathar. Can be reached in a couple of hours.
2. Galt el Azraq – The biggest permanent pool in the region, as well as the furthest from town, found in Wadi Tala Kibira. Ideal for a swim. Deep water, only for swimmers.
3. Kharazet el Shaq – Probably the prettiest pools in the region, located at the top of the steep Wadi Shaq Tinya. One of the pools is big enough for a dip. Quite far, a day’s walk from town or half a day from Abu Seila settlement.
4. Sida Nogra – A seasonal waterfall with little pools at the top, that are usually full even when there is no water in the fall itself. A day’s walk from St Catherine, it is actually nearer to Sheikh Awad settlement (Al Karm Ecolodge).
5. Elijah’s Basin (Farsh Eliya) – Found on the Mt Sinai range at the top of the Stairs of Repentance, there is often water in the basin retained by an old dam.
6. Farsh Arimziya (Farsh Abu Desa) – Another place on the Mt Sinai range, consisting of a shallower basin with a church and a deeper area with an old dam.
7. Jarijniya – A rarely used route to Mt Katherina from Wadi Arbain, there are seasonal pools at the lower part of the wadi that often fill up.
8. Sid Daud – One of the nearest places to the town of St Catherine, a big part of the high mountains drains through this steep gully, filling up pools at different spots.
9. Wadi Itlah – Another wadi very near to town, as well as to the Abu Seila settlement, in the middle there are seasonal natural pools just below a man-made dam.
10. Farsh Zaq – A little basin in the high mountains hidden above Wadi Zawatin, there is often water here retained by a dam. If that’s the case, the view with the distant peak of Mt Katherina is magnificent. It’s about one and a half hours’ walk from town.
11. Wadi Shaq – Another place an hour or so from St Catherine, this little narrow wadi often has a running stream and little pools along the way.
12. Wadi el Ahmar – One of the routes to Mt Katherine from the high mountains’ side, water cascades and pools are found often in the steep wadi at several spots. It’s 2-3 hours from town.
13. Wadi Rhazana – The other main routes to Mt Katherine from the high mountains, there is a seasonal waterfall and pool in the Wadi at the end of Wadi Umm Silla. Located a couple of hour’s walk from town.
14. Wadi Anshil – Draining to Wadi Jibal near Wadi Bulia, there are seasonal pools and water cascades at the end of the long and steep wadi. It’s 3-3 hours from town.
15. Ein Najila – Located quite far and high up on the Bab el Donya range, little pools and water cascades found at this spring. It’s a day’s walk from St Catherine.
16. Sid Abu Hbeq – One of the most beautiful seasonal pools in the very long and very steep Wadi Tala Kibira, where Galt el Azraq is also found. Remote location, usually visited as part of a 2-3-day trek.
17. Naqb Abu Tuweita – A rarely visited, steep gully draining Wadi Abu Tuweita to Wadi Tala Kibira far below, there is a seasonal waterfall at the top and several pools along the way. Remote location, but people often stay in one of the gardens in Wadi Abu Tuweita along longer treks.
18. Ubugiya – Connecting the settlement of Abu Seila to Wadi Itlah, there is often water in this short and narrow wadi (or canyon). It’s a couple of hours walk from St Catherine and half an hour from Abu Seila, usually the place is visited along a Wadi Itlah walk.
19. Wadi Jinab – Rarely visited, Wadi Jinab is the continuation of Wadi Itlah downstream from the Ubugiya and Wadi Shaq Tinya junction. There are several seasonal pools along the narrow wadi.
20. Wadi Gharba – Quite far from St Catherine but near the settlement of Sheikh Awad (Al Karm Ecolodge), water is often found in little pools and at the top of a granite seasonal waterfall.
Please note: people visiting the area must have a Bedouin guide by law. Hikes are organised from the town of St Catherine – click here to see a list of operators.