Abul Hassan: Overview
Jebel Abul Hassan stands in the remote, westerly wilds of the Red Sea Mountain Trail. Some of the most spectacular summits of the region rise here - from the towering red pinnacles of Jebel Abul Hassan to the black pyramid peak of Jebel Um Samyook - but it is the wadis many hikers find the most beguiling. The winding gorge of Wadi Ghuza - once a notorious caravan-raiding spot and a burial ground for Maaza heroes - runs along the northern flanks of Jebel Abul Hassan, dividing it from the neighbouring massif of Jebel Gattar. Other beautiful wadis include Wadi Abul Hassan - which starts as a canyon just a few metres across, gradually widening into a bigger, more dramatic gorge - and Wadi Ruweishid; a narrow, shadowy canyon with a dripping spring. Everywhere becomes more spectacular here after rain, with the region's hard red granite trapping water that can lie in place for months. Green pools dot wadis like beads on a necklace. Some become so deep and large hikers will have to swim to pass. Meadows of green grass and wild flowers bloom in this area around spring, giving a refuge for storks, cranes and other migrating birds, along with grazing for flocks of sheep and goats. Nomadic Bedouin families are often found moving in this region, because of the relatively abundant water and greenery. Nevertheless, nothing is busy. The whole massif retains a solitary feel, with large tracts of it inaccessible by 4x4s; reachable only on foot. The Abul Hassan hiking hub combines ancient trails into a network through which some of the most spectacular peaks, wadis and canyons of the region can be visited and it should be counted as one of the must-see areas of the Red Sea Mountain Trail, worth a few days of any visit. Getting here requires a drive of two hours from Hurghada.
Jebel Um Samyook
Whilst most summits of the Jebel Abl Hassan massif are red granite Jebel Um Samyook is a foreboding pyramid of black rock. The Bedouin say the name Um Samyook was given by the Ababda - a tribe who occupied this region before the Maaza - but its name still stands today. Two broad ridges - one of which narrows to a knife edges at points - converge on its summit, which gives spectacular views to the red granite highlands of Jebel Gattar and the desolate tablelands around the Nile Valley, known as El Jilf. It takes one, long day to climb Jebel Um Samyook - with a mix of hiking and scrambling involved - but it is best worked into a multi day circuit, combining an ascent of the peak with a traverse of the beautiful gorge of Wadi Ghuza.
The Ruweishid Highlands
The Maaza once had a reputation as fierce raiders and a Maaza tribesman known as Ruweishid was the most famous raider of all. He died in a Maaza raid on the Ababda - which it's said the Maaza avenged by killing dozens of Ababda, leaving only one alive to tell the tale - and was buried on his own request in Wadi Ghuza. Ruweishid's tomb can still be seen. Today, this part of Wadi Ghuza - including a wadi, spring and sweep of rocky highlands - is named after him. Smooth whaleback summits and deep, shadowy canyons are found in this area. One of the best hikes starts and ends at Ruweishid's tomb, winding through the remote wadis and basins of the Ruweishid highlands the Plain of El Graygar, before circling back to Wadi Ghuza.
Wadi Ghuza is one of the great wadis of the Red Sea Mountain Trail. Dividing the neighbouring massifs of Jebel Abul Hassan and Jebel Gattar, it gives a dramatic, winding passage between sweeping lolwands that slope down towards the Nile Valley on one side and the highest peaks of the Red Sea Mountains on the other. The word Ghuza comes from ghazoo, a Bedouin word for raid. Its twists and turns once made it the ideal place for assailants to ambush caravans. Today, the small walls raiders built to provide cover under fire can be seen on the wadi banks. One of the great raiders of the Maaza - a Bedouin called Ruweishid - is buried in Wadi Ghuza. It can be hiked end to end in one long day and integrated into circuit hikes too.
Abul Hassan El Ahmar
There are two Wadi Abul Hassans on the Red Sea Mountain Trail and the Bedouin distinguish each by its dominant colour. Wadi Abul Hassan el Ahmar means the 'red' Abul Hassan: Wadi Abul Hassan el Iswid is the 'black' one. The more spectacular of the two is Abul Hassan el Ahmar, which cuts a rugged, twisting course through rose coloured granite. The wadi can be hiked in full over a single day or integrated into a bigger multi day circuit with visits to several minor wadis, some of which hold deep pools after rain, which might require swimming to pass. Wadi Abul Hassan El Ahmar and Wadi Ghuza can be combined together an easy hike lasting three days, offering a traverse of the two great wadis of the Red Sea Mountain Trail.