Eastern Desert in detail

Flights & getting there

Apart from trips to Mons Claudianus and Mons Porphyrites, which are easily arranged in Hurghada, the only viable option for accessing the southern Eastern Desert sites is to go through a local tour operator, who can organise permissions and transport arrangements.

Zafarana is located 62km south of Ain Sukhna and 150km east of Beni Suef on the Nile. Buses running between Cairo or Suez and Hurghada will drop you at Zafarana, but direct access to the monasteries is limited to private vehicles and to tour buses from Cairo or Hurghada.

To get to St Anthony’s, start from the main Zafarana junction and follow the road west towards Beni Suef for 37km, where you’ll reach the monastery turn-off. From here, it’s 17km further south along a good road through the desert to St Anthony’s.

The turn-off for St Paul’s is about 27km south of the Zafarana lighthouse along the road to Hurghada (watch for a small signpost). Once at the turn-off, it’s then 10km further along a good tarmac road to the main gate of the monastery, and about 3km further to the monastery itself.

Buses running between Suez and Hurghada can drop you along the main road at the turn-off, from where the only option is hitching. If you do decide to hitch (which isn’t the best idea), don’t go alone, and be sure you’re properly equipped, especially with water, as it’s a long, hot, dry and isolated stretch.