Travel to Mt Sinai – Biblical Mountain of the 10 Commandments
Mt Sinai lies in the centre of the Sinai peninsula, towering over St Katherine’s Monastery at its foot. Travellers come to the mountain to climb it in time for sunrise and deliberate its biblical associations.
After fleeing to the Sinai having killed an Egyptian, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush whereupon he was commanded to rescue the Israelites from Egypt. Moses returned to Egypt and brought the Israelites into the Sinai, famously parting the Red Sea to do so.
Climbing Sinai Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights speaking with God and received two stone tablets on which were inscribed the 10 Commandments, the basis of Jewish and Christian law. Today people come to climb the mountain and visit St Katherine’s Monastery, said to be the site of the Burning Bush.
The mountain is a non-technical climb made by thousands of ordinary people every year. Steps lead to the top which can be busy at sunrise. The view is incredible, a series of peaks rolling away in the distance, bathed in a warm glow. At the foot of the mountain lies St Katherine’s Monastery, founded in the 3rd or 4th century the fortified wall was added in the 6th century by Justinian I. According to tradition the monastery was founded on the site of the Burning Bush and was named after St Katherine whose body is enshrined in a golden casket within the monastery.
The climb up Mt Sinai takes around 21/2hrs from the base, up many steps. It is non-technical, simply requiring patience and a degree of stamina. Camels can be hired for the ascent (agree the price beforehand) for those not wishing to walk.
There can be many people on the summit for sunrise and some people decide to climb in the afternoon, for sunset; those electing to do this should ensure that they take safety precautions such as taking a food supply, plenty of water, warm clothes, lighting and letting your hotel know – you will after all be climbing as it is getting dark and temperatures on the summit can get very low with snow not unknown.
St Katherine’s Monastery is usually visited after the climb for those ascending for sunrise; opening times/days vary so check before planning a visit. A package from Dahab including transport and a guide will reduce the amount of time needed and is to be recommended.
Visit the Fan Sina women’s co-operative whilst in the area for an opportunity to indulge in some retail therapy and help out local Bedouin women.
Mt Sinai can be reached by bus from the coastal resorts and Cairo which drop passengers some 4 kilometres short of the mountain at al-Milga village; from here share-taxis take walkers to the start point. As elsewhere in the Sinai, buses are infrequent and unreliable.
- Follow in Moses’ footsteps and climb Mt Sinai
- Climb in late afternoon for sunset and a less-crowded experience
- Explore St Katherine’s Monastery – site of the Burning Bush