Worth a Trip: The Sinai Trail
Egypt's first long-distance through-hike, the Sinai Trail (www.sinaitrail.org) is a 250km, 12- to 14-day trek traversing from the coast's vast sand plains and narrow canyons into the rugged mountain heartland around St Katherine. Organised by a cooperative of three Bedouin tribes (the Tarabin, Mizena, and Jabaliyya), the Sinai Trail offers a desert experience steeped in local culture.
Although the idea of multi-day desert trek may at first seem a challenge best left to the seriously gung-ho, the Sinai Trail has been designed and is run for anyone with a good level of fitness and a sense of adventure. Most of the trail, utilising age-old Bedouin routes, is straight hiking with small sections of scrambling (which can be avoided if necessary). Local Bedouin – all trained in wilderness first aid – provide guiding services along the entire route, giving this hike a rich cultural component that allows an insight into Sinai's traditional Bedouin life. For the tribes themselves, the trail offers a small but sustainable economy, creating jobs and other tourism opportunities; it's a vital initiative in a region where the Bedouin communities have often been sidelined in Sinai's tourism economy.
The main trail has its trailheads on the coast between Nuweiba and Taba (at Ras Shaitan and Bir Sweir) and at St Katherine's, and can be walked in either direction. If time restraints mean you can't complete the entire trail, sections can be hiked individually, and a network of shorter hikes at various points along the trail is being developed.
The daily hiking costs (per person per day in a group of six/four/two people LE750/850/950) cover everything: guiding fees, food, water and camels (for carrying equipment and packs). The Sinai Trail is committed to paying a fair wage to guides and cameleers.