Sinai

Sinai Peninsular, Egypt, December 2005: A short video documenting an excursion from Dahab on the Gulf of Aquaba- to Mount Sinai in the southern interior part of the peninsular. My travel companion and I were determined to do this independently using local transport, whether it be on the back of a 4WD or on the back of a camel. Most tourists do this via an organised tour leaving in the middle of the night to reach the starting point of the climb at the ancient monastery of St Katherine’s– the supposed site of the ‘burning bush’. They then climb the 3750 steps of penitence to reach the summit of Mt Sinai and hopefully see the sun rise. We wanted to do it differently, but of course that had it’s own challenges- multiple modes of transport, bribing guards, negotiating camel transport etc…

 

In the end we ran out of time to make it to the summit of Mt Sinai- the mythical mountain (one of many) where Moses received the Ten Commandments. The Bedouin camel father and son team were great but were only allowed to take us as far as a caravan station a few hundred meters below the summit. It was getting dark and we soon realized we had ran out of time- being lost or injured in the Sinai mountains overnight did not seem appealing. If we had been a little bit better prepared, more clothing, food, water and flashlights it may have been doable. Even then we had to negotiate the haphazard and chaotic rock hewn ‘steps of penitence’ down to the monastery below- which we luckily made just before the light failed.

But the show was not over- we had to walk to the village a couple of miles away in the dark and try and find transport back to Dahab– over two hours drive away. We met some other travelers there, wandering around the dusty streets trying to figure out a way of getting out and back to the coast. We eventually put our heads together and with a bit of luck and hard negotiations- me and another guy cut a deal with a local van driver to take the 6-8 of us out of the desert and back to Dahab on the coast.  It was very late in the evening when we at last reached the beach for some much needed food and beers…

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