You are hereIn the Sinai Mountains
In the Sinai Mountains
It is getting cool during the day and downright freezing at night. The Sinai mountains are at an altitude of over 2,400 m, with peaks covered with snow during the winter. Snow is good because it means water for the Bedouin gardens, but it also means less customers because nobody wants to spend a chilly night on a mountain and wake up to frozen pools of water.
As every Westerner knows, Egypt is where the pyramids are and therefore it must be hot. Always. All the time. Explaining to visiting Westerners that actually no, the pyramids are not next door and yes that is real snow; takes some time. We have endless tales of day visitors from the coast wanting to climb Jebel Mousa (Mount Sinai) and arriving in their best beach clothes; only to find that the top of Jebel Mousa at 4 am during winter with a high wind; is shall we say, somewhat cold .
The Westerner has been sold beautiful pictures of the Red Sea, warm diving, radiant beaches and hot days by the pool. This is all true. However, Jebel Mousa is not by the coast, has no beaches and definitely not suitable for sun bathing. But no one has told them this so they remain in beach mode all the way to St Katherine.
They get out of the coach and then a look crosses their face. There is something wrong. Then it dawns on them. How come they have goose bumps? Why are they shivering? And why is the tour guide wearing a fleece?
They stoically start the hike up the mountain around 2 am; tired and cold. Then something else starts to make them think. How come there are so many small lights ahead? And what are those shadows? Then they realize that they are part of a long thin line of pilgrims all making their way to the summit. Jebel Mousa is where Moses received the 10 commandments and thus is one of the key pilgrimages of the world.
The Westerner also has no idea that the summit is maybe 10*10 square meters in total and although that is fine for a small group, it starts to be a bit limiting when there are 500 people there. So they all huddle together for warmth and wait for the sunrise.
Meanwhile those who need to go to the loo find that there are only two toilets, neither of which work.
The Bedouin at the summit do a roaring trade in over priced teas and coffees, while the poorly dressed tourists shiver and shake waiting for the sun to come up. When it does, the pitiful heat makes no difference and after having taken the obligatory photos they are soon practically running down the mountain to keep warm. The Bedouin look upon this with equanimity and see only the business opportunities of selling more hot drinks and warm blankets.
The tourists meanwhile get back onto their coach, heading back to the sunny coast.
Bedouin Paths runs ethical hiking tours out of their Bedouin Camp in St. Katherine in Sinai. Contact mark at email@example.com or call the Bedouin Camp on +20 189662010 or go to the website at www.bedouinpaths.com .