When we had finished gallivanting around the pyramids, Brian and I headed out to the Sinai Peninsula to find the place we would be staying. The Sinai was extremely desolate. There was nothing but desert and interesting rock formations, along with a surprisingly strong military presence. There were checkpoints before and after every town (no matter its size) and the tunnel was heavily guarded.
The resort we stayed at was nice, with a beach on the Red Sea. We spent our first full day there, just exploring the area. We drove to some of the nearby towns to find there was really nothing there: just a few small outdoor cafes to drink tea along deserted streets. The landscape was really interesting though, with mountainous rock formations and one dried river bed we pulled over to explore.
After a day of relaxing exploration, we felt ready to tackle a challenge so the next day we climbed Mt. Sinai. The mountain was a couple hours’ drive South, in which the towns got smaller but more lively and the mountains became taller and taller. Mt. St. Catherine is the highest mountain in the Sinai and Gebel Musa (as Mt. Sinai is known in Arabic) is right next to it with the monastery at its base.
After hiking the ~3,000 steps up the mountain, we finally reached the top for a gorgeous view of the mountains stretched out around us. Sin means tooth in Arabic and the mounains are named after the fact that they look like teeth: Sinai.
On the way down, our guide told us biblical stories from an Islamic perspective as we took the camel’s path, full of switch-backs instead of stairs. Most people take this route up, even if they don’t opt into the camel, but I was glad we had decided to take the more challenging route – it was more gratifying to reach the top and the hike wasn’t that bad to begin with. We eventually returned back to the resort, a little tired but feeling accomplished and excited for the next day’s adventures.