Tips for Climbing Mount Sinai, Egypt
Updated: Aug 19
If you are looking at going to Sinai Peninsula or the Red Sea, you may decide to climb Mount Sinai. Due to security concerns and the police convoys, I would recommend going with a tour group. We selected our tour through GetYourGuide which provided hotel pick up from our base in Sharm el Sheikh. But the tour groups don’t tell you everything! Here are the best tips for transportation, night hiking and your overnight trip.
Why are there convoys to Mount Sinai?
If you selected a group tour (as I would CERTAINLY recommend), you were likely picked up from your hotel. For us, once the bus had all the guests, we left Sharm el Sheikh and stopped at the “border line” for the governate. All the tour buses for the night convened at this location. We were told to wait and an armed security guard boarded each of our tour buses. Due to the location in the southern Sinai Peninsula and security issues over the last decade, Egypt now works very hard to keep tourists safe. They have scheduled convoys every 90-120 minutes with police escorts of all the vehicles in transit, especially the tourist groups. Your guide should provide some information, but if it they are like ours, their English wasn’t proficient enough to explain all the details. It’s important for your bus to make the 10 or 10:30 pm convoy otherwise you will be late for the sunrise hike. Once you get to the base of the mountain, there is another security checkpoint with armed police, scanners and bag checks. Don’t bring anything with you that could cause alarm. Overall, once we understood what was happening, it was nice to feel the extra protection. But at the time, without any discussion, we were definitely apprehensive.
Transportation to Mount Sinai
Our tour was a small group of no more than 12 people. However, the 12-passenger bus was full, and we were stuck in the back with no AC. We were not prepped on security measures that would be taken to travel in Sinai. The lack of air flow and apprehension about the security measures left us a little concerned on our way up the mountain. I would suggest contacting your tour company to see the size of the bus or try to get a seat in the front when you board. It’s about 4-5 hours each way, including an hour or so of pick-ups. We were picked up from our hotel at 7 pm and didn’t arrive back to our hotel the next day until 12 pm.
Climbing Mount Sinai
When you arrive at the base of the mountain, your group will be given a Bedouin guide who will escort you up the mountain. There are frequent rest stops/ small cafes on the hillside, but cash is needed for any purchases (Egyptian pound or USD). We were given small torches at the start of the hike, but only one per pair and it was insufficient (to say the least) to light our way. I used my cell phone light the entire way up, but I would suggest packing your own flashlight for the journey.
The hike is very strenuous. We read review after review and most people don’t discuss this. Please know it is a very steep incline with many stairs (2500 feet of elevation gain pluse 750 stairs to reach the top). The Bedouin guide was attentive to the group but moves pretty quickly to get everyone to the top before sunrise. The guide does stop at each café for a quick break and time for refreshment if needed. There are other Bedouins offering camels along the way as an alternative, but only to the halfway point; there are no camels allowed on the 750 stairs… that’s all YOU!
All that to say, the views are remarkable, and I think it’s a magical way to watch the sunrise. If you are a Christian, Jew or Muslim, this mountain holds religious meaning as the named location that Moses received the 10 Commandments.
Bonus Tips for Climbing Mount Sinai
This is an overnight trek, so bring plenty of snacks and water, wear good hiking shoes, sleep well the day before, pack a headlamp or strong flashlight and bring warm clothes for the top (it is very windy). You can rent a blanket at the top for $3, but I would suggest packing a sweatshirt or jacket. Enjoy!