Tips for the Mount Sinai Hike (Egypt) + Booking Information

Climbing Mount Sinai in St Catherine, Egypt has to be one of the most epic adventures in the country. The Mount Sinai hike provides crazy views, holds important religious/cultural significance, and is currently the only “legal” hike in Egypt.

Egypt’s Mount Sinai hike requires preplanning and has some little “quirks” you need to know about in advance. In this blog post I’ll tell you everything you need to know about hiking Mount Sinai including what to wear, how to book a tour, what the trail is like, etc, etc, etc to make sure your trip is as successful as possible.

To date, this is one of the most spiritual and unique hikes I’ve embarked on. Even if you’re not a hiker, I highly recommend climbing Mount Sinai during your trip to Egypt.

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~ Taylor ♡

What is Egypt’s Mount Sinai Hike?

How to book the Mount Sinai hiking trail

Mount Sinai (also known as “Moses Mountain”) stands at a whopping 2,285m (7,497ft) – who knew Egypt had mountains this tall!? It’s one of the only “legal” hikes in the country which makes climbing up to the summit super special.

Mount Sinai is a very important religious spot. It’s said that Mount Sinai is where Moses received the Ten Commandments – although there’s speculation as to whether this took place on Mount Sinai or Mount St Catherine (Egypt’s tallest mountain; 2,629m).

St Catherine Monastery, Egypt
St Catherine Monastery

The hike starts at the St Catherine Monastery – also called the Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai. Here you’ll find the burning bush which is where God appeared to Moses & a well where Moses met his wife. It’s a really beautiful facility and the atmosphere is incredible. The Monastery does have strange hours though, so if you DIY your trip to St Catherine, make sure you check the opening hours in advance.

The Mount Sinai hike offers some of the most spectacular views in Egypt and an adventure of a lifetime – one you’ll want to tell your future grandchildren about.

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How to Book the Mount Sinai Hike in St Catherine

Hikes in Egypt

In order to hike Mount Sinai in St Catherine, you MUST book a guided hike. Hiking in Egypt is technically illegal, however there’s a loophole – if you go with a local Bedouin on this specific trail, it’s okay.

ps – Bedouins are similar to Indigenous peoples, but slightly different. The word Bedouin derives from the Arabic “bedawi”, which means “dweller of the desert“. And that is precisely their main characteristic: they are an Arab family with a nomadic lifestyle, extending from the Arabian Peninsula to North Africa, thus dwelling in different areas of Egypt.

It’s recommended to book your Mount Sinai hiking tour in advance, however you can book tours in person at various spots throughout the Sinai Peninsula. Dahab in particular has a few tour companies and hostels which operate sunrise hikes up Mount Sinai. I must warn that these options can be a bit sketchy and unreliable though. I tried booking with a tour operator and hostel – long story short I was scammed out of a bit of money and was told last minute after waiting all day that the tour I booked was full. Then to top it all off, I was left to fend for myself for the evening as there were almost no accommodations available in Dahab that night. I ended up going to St Catherine directly with my Egyptian friends and we spoke to the Bedouins there to plan our hike.

The following are a few reliable options for tour operators you can book with ahead of time. Each of these tours include admission to St Catherine’s Monastery in addition to a hiking guide. You’ll be picked up at your hotel in the middle of the night so you can see sunrise from the top of the mountain.

If you’re looking for a slightly more intimate experience, you can book this private tour for just yourself and your group.

If you’re already in St Catherine, you can speak to the local Bedouins in person (like I did) about organizing a trip. Some of them will take you hiking to other mountains aside from Mount Sinai – however please be careful as some of these “offers” can lead to scams or other dangerous situations. I recommend chatting with the Sheikh Mousa Bedouin Camp if you’d like to go this route.

About St Catherine

Mount Sinai hiking trail
Mount Sinai Summit

St Catherine is a small village in the middle of Egypt’s tallest mountains. The red rock colour in the area is absolutely beautiful and the locals are very warm and welcoming. You’ll often see children riding around on donkeys and the majority of the population do seem to be Bedouins here.

Typically travellers book a day trip to St Catherine from Dahab or Sharm El Sheikh, however you can drive to St Catherine and DIY the trip yourself. Ensure for the drive you have your passport and proper permits to show at the military checkpoints along the way.

St Catherine has limited facilities, however there is a very small grocery store, the Monastery and a few hotels & restaurants around. The hotels I recommend are as follows:

About the Mount Sinai Trail in St Catherine

Mount Sinai hiking trail

Distance: 10.9kms

Elevation: 764m

Type of trail: out & back

Rated: moderate

Estimated time: 4.5hrs

As previously mentioned, Mount Sinai holds special religious significance. The summit provides epic views of the colourful red mountains in the surrounding area and the morning/evening light literally makes the whole area glow. The hike is commonly done as a day trip from either Sharm El Sheikh or Dahab and it’s typically completed during sunrise or sunset for the best light.

The trail starts off at the St Catherine Monastery, then takes the Camel Path or the Steps of Repentance up the mountain. The hike can be completed as a circuit, but ultimately your Bedouin guide will choose the way – the Steps of Repentance are said to have the best views, so try to ask about this in advance!

Mount Sinai Hiking trail
Most of the trail looks like this on the Camel Path until the stairs

The trail is quite exposed to the elements, so if it’s windy, cold, or hot – you’ll feel it. There is nothing technical about this hike which makes it suitable for anyone. It follows a well defined, smooth path and gains steady/gentle elevation the whole way up. The area is signposted, however your Bedouin guide will be with you the whole way.

The last 950m of the hike follows a set of 750 stairs. They are steep, but relatively short lived. The top of the stairs mark the summit where you’ll find kiosks with snacks, souvenirs, a small church (no entrance), a mosque, and plenty of friendly cats and donkeys. It’s often very busy at the top if you go during sunrise or sunset, so expect to see plenty of people up there during your visit.

If hiking isn’t your thing, you can opt to rent a camel upon arrival for around $20 USD (haggling recommended as this price can vary greatly). The camel will follow you at least halfway up the trail in case you “change your mind” and decide to rent one partway up. If you decide to ride the camel, it’ll carry you up to the last 950m of the trail right before the stairs begin. Then you have to walk the rest.

Top Tips for Hiking Mount Sinai in Egypt

How to book the Mount Sinai hiking trail
How to book the Mount Sinai hiking trail

Remember those “quirks” I mentioned? The following are some super important things to do before/during your hike. These tips differ from other hikes around the world, but ensure you follow them closely. If you happen to miss the following, you will not be able to complete the hike.

Bring your passport. There are multiple military checkpoints along the road to St Catherines in addition to a checkpoint at the trailhead. Failure to bring your passport = failure to complete the hike as the government will need to confirm your identity before giving you permission to go.

You must hike with a tour group/Bedouin. Hiking in Egypt is technically illegal and if you’re caught hiking sans-Bedouin or sans-permit (you get this from hiking with an accredited group), you could end up in big trouble.

The takeaway here is to use a tour group. They’ll take care of all the nitty-gritty, hard-to-plan components of the trip so you can just enjoy the experience fully.

What to Wear/Bring on the Mount Sinai Hike

Mount Sinai summit

Clothing: the summit is typically quite cold even during summer if you visit during sunrise/sunset. It’s recommended to bring layers and a warm jacket, a hat, gloves, etc. The hiking portion can be quite warm though, so ensure you can take layers off too. Sturdy footwear will make this journey much more comfortable. It does not often rain here (although it is possible), so waterproof layers are usually not necessary.

Water and food: this can be purchased at various spots along the hike in addition to the summit. Prices are cheap compared to North American standards, however in comparison to the rest of Egypt the hot chocolate, snacks, and hot meals are much more expensive than normal. BYO if you want to save a few $.

Camera gear: cameras are often “sketchy” to bring around other parts of Egypt due to the strict photography rules, however large cameras are totally acceptable here.

Sun protection: sunscreen, long pants, long sleeves, a hat. You are exposed to the sun on this hike – make sure you take precautions to avoid burning.

ps – at the top you can rent blankets and mattresses if you’re looking for the ultimate “comfy” sunrise/sunset experience.

FAQ About the Mount Sinai Hike

Mount Sinai Summit
Small church on the Mount Sinai summit
Do you have to book a guided tour to hike Mount Sinai?

Yes. More information about booking Mount Sinai hiking tours can be found here.

What is the best time of year to hike Mount Sinai?

Shoulder season (March-April & October-November) is best. Daytime temperatures are more mild and the temperature at the summit will be a bit warmer. Snow is not uncommon in winter and scorching temperatures are prevalent during summer.

Is there a bathroom on the Mount Sinai Hike?

There are multiple toilets along the Mount Sinai hike, however most of them are quite “rustic.” It’s recommended you bring your own toilet paper. There are flush toilets in the parking lot.

Can I buy food on the Mount Sinai hike?

Yes. There are multiple kiosks selling all kinds of snacks, hot meals, drinks, etc. There are a few kiosks along the trail, plus multiple once you arrive at the summit.

I’m not a hiker, can I still hike Mount Sinai?

Absolutely. Although a bit of a workout, there’s nothing technical about this hike. The path is wide and well defined. At the top there are stairs.

Is it cold during the Mount Sinai hike?

Considering most hikers start before sunrise, yes. Temperatures at the top of Mount Sinai can be quite cold even during summer. It’s recommended to bring extra layers.

More Hiking Opportunities in Egypt

Hiking in Egypt

Hiking in Egypt is fairly risky and illegal (aside from Mount Sinai). I’m an advocate of solo adventure, however I would never recommend hiking without a guide here.

If you’re looking to venture beyond Mount Sinai, talk with the Bedouins at Sheikh Mousa Bedouin Camp in St Catherine.

Alternatively, the following trails are accessible from other areas around the Sinai Peninsula:

Egypt is starting to open up more long distance hiking trails in the southern part of the country. As of now these long distance trails are more geared toward Egyptians, however in the coming years it may expand to tourists.

Happy adventuring!

Taylor ♡

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About The Author

HI, I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.

After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.

I now spend my days travelling the world, climbing mountains, and spending nights under the stars in the Canadian Rockies backcountry.

I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.


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