Mount Sinai

  • Sunrise on Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user KarlKarl
  • Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user Wilhelmja
  • A priest walking up Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user Gloria-Euyoque
  • Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user JesperSarnesjo
  • Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user JesperSarnesjo
  • Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user JesperSarnesjo
  • Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user JesperSarnesjo
  • Mount Sinai, Camels - © From Flickr user EvilJohnius
  • Mount Sinai, St Catherine's Monastery - © From Flickr user EvilJohnius
  • Mount Sinai, St Catherine's Monastery - © From Flickr user EvilJohnius
  • Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user HerrmannGunnar

Key information: Mount Sinai

  • Mount Sinai is the second highest mountain on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, and is believed to be the site on which Moses received the Ten Commandments.
  • This is a grand, harsh desert scenery of broken mountains and deep, dry ravines.
  • Visitors usually ascend the less steep side of the mountain from the ancient monastery of St Catherine while it is still dark, and then watch the sunrise before descending the much steeper 3,750 Steps of Penitence'. Consider a daytime ascent to get more views and atmosphere, but beware of extremes of heat.
  • The Mountain's great religious significance is reflected in the various buildings and sites along the way.
  • This walk can be very crowded, and also entails two or three hours of walking in the dark if you want to catch the dawn.

Walkopedia rating

(Top 100)
  • Walkopedia rating88
  • Beauty30
  • Natural interest14
  • Human interest15
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points3
  • Total rating88
  • Note: Negs: crowds; a walk in the dark

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 5 hrs
  • Maximum Altitude: 2,285m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Top
Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user Wilhelmja

WALK SUMMARY

The Sinai peninsula is perhaps best known for the Red Sea resorts around Sharm-el-Sheikh. However, within the dry and often stark interior looms the remarkable Mount Sinai, one of the Middle East's most sacred mountains, which can be ascended from the marvellous St Catherine's monastery at its foot, and, walked at the right time, provides a stunning view of the Sinai peninsula at sunrise.

The local Bedouins often refer to this mountain as Jebel Musa', the Mountain of Moses. According to biblical legend, it was near the monastery that Moses was confronted with the famous Burning Bush, and it was also the slopes of the mountain that he climbed to receive the Ten Commandments. The area has spiritual significance for the three major religions of the surrounding regions; Christianity, Islam and Judaism, but the moving and rewarding climb is not made any less so by lack of piety.

The only problem with this vast appeal is that the gorgeous views are often shared with several hundred other people, and if you choose to sleep on the summit this makes it a tight, and noisy, squeeze.

Most people climb the mountain when it is still dark, going up the more gentle camel trail (Siket el Basha) and then stopping at a plateau known as Elijah's Basin (complete with the 500 years (or more) old tree upon the spot where the prophet Elijah is said to have heard the voice of God), which is where those spending the night on the mountain sleep. From here there are around 750 steps leading to the summit, and the aim is to have made your way up these before the sun rises the next morning. If walkers want to try out both routes up Mt Sinai, then it is advised to go down the Steps of Penitence' (Siket Sayidna Musa) rather than climb up them they were devised by a monk as (naturally, given the name) a form of penitence, and the 3,000 steps up to Elijah's basin are indeed punishing, although they offer fantastic views of the monastery on the way down.

Once you have completed the walk, St Catherine's monastery, now a Unesco World Heritage Site, is certainly worth a visit. One of the longest surviving working monastic communities in the world, it has for centuries been visited by dedicated pilgrims, and modern visitors can still see a bush claimed to be a descendant of the original burning version within the grounds. Other things worth seeing are the Church of the Transfiguration and the Monastery museum. Naturally, gift shops abound.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

Membership is FREE AND JOINING TAKES 30 SECONDS. To login or sign up click here

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user JesperSarnesjo

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Top
Mount Sinai - © From Flickr user JesperSarnesjo...
Top

Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more

All material on this website is © Walkopedia Ltd 2008 - 2015, unless specified otherwise.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED