The Sinai Trail is Egypt's first-ever long distance hiking trail and the sister project of the Red Sea Mountain Trail. It opened in 2015 as a 220km trail taking 12 days to complete and involving three Bedouin tribes. Each tribe would guide hikers to the borders of its lands, where the next tribe would take over. Three years later it was extended into a 550km trail that took 42 days to complete, and which united South Sinai's old alliance of eight Bedouin tribes around a travelling route for the first time in a century. The Sinai Trail has been recognised multiple times as one of best new hiking trails in the world and is now backed by Egypt's Ministry of Tourism. It has pioneered a model of tourism that has special relevance in nomadic regions, creating economic opportunities and growing a kind of work that can help preserve the unique heritage of Bedouin communities.
The Sinai and Red Sea Mountains were once part of the same landmass. For most of their history, they were connected. They drifted apart only when the Red Sea opened between them. Today, they gaze out to each other like long lost sisters. Geologically, they are almost identical. Historically, they share much in common too. Egypt's Pharaohs reached deep into both lands looking for gold, turqouise and precious gems. The Romans arrived later, along with Egypt's Christians, some escaping persecution and others a more simple, spiritual existence. Christianity's monastic tradition developed in these lands and its oldest working monasteries stand here today: the Monasteries of St Anthony and St Paul in the Red Sea Mountains and the Monastery of St Katherine in the Sinai. Culturally, these regions are similar and have for many centuries been home to Bedouin tribes. The Bedouin tribes of the Sinai and the northern half of the Red Sea Mountains - including those around Hurghada - trace their roots to the Arabian Peninsula and share a common culture. The Sinai and Red Sea Mountains share much in common and our goal is to grow their trails together too. The tribal organisations will share skills, knowledge and contacts to further shared goals of growing adventure tourism and promoting awareness of the loss of nomadic heritage. Some pictures of the Sinai Trail from Frits Meyst are given below.
Connecting the trails
The Sinai Trail and Red Sea Mountain Trail stand within eyeshot of eachother. On a good day, hikers can look over the Red Sea from the high peaks of one trail to the summits of the other. From Jebel Shayib on the Red Sea Mountain Trail, Jebel Katherina - the highest peak in the Sinai - is clearly visible. The two areas are easy to connect on the ground too, with a direct ferry service sailing weekly between Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada and 25 minute flights operating between both regions. Hiking sections of both these trails will show visitors the best of Egypt's wilderness and will allow a journey through its different tribal cultures. Both trails will cooperate, exchanging experience, skills and connections to boost hiking across both and grow together.
The wider family
Over recent years, long-distance hiking trails have grown in many parts of the Arab world. Along with the Sinai Trail and Red Sea Mountain Trail is the Jordan Trail, the Lebanon Mountain Trail and a Palestinian hiking trail known as Masar Ibrahim el Khalil. Hiking trails are also being developed in Saudi Arabia, on the other side of the Red Sea. Walking is becoming more popular with people across the region and communities themselves are leading the development and management of many of these trails. The Red Sea Mountain Trail and Sinai Trail have connections with other trails across the region, especially those in regions with a similar Bedouin heritage. One day, we hope the Red Sea Mountain trail and the Sinai Trail will connect to trails with a similar philosophy in other regions.