Um Anab: Overview
Jebel Um Anab is one of the great summits of the Red Sea Mountains. Anab means grapes in Arabic and the mountain takes its name from a plant with small, grape-like fruits growing around its lower crags. Jebel Um Anab is the most southerly of the high mountains near Hurghada. Continuing south from Um Anab, the Red Sea Mountains dwindle into much smaller hills and ridges, rising again a few hundred kilometres south near Jebel Hamata. This vertical drop-off makes Um Anab a spectacular viewpoint. From its summit, a vast, sweep of lowland deserts is visible. Jebel Um Anab is the centrepoint for one of six hiking hubs on the Red Sea Mountain Trail. A network of routes run around the mountain, giving access to several different kinds of landscape. Jebel Um Anab itself offers a scramble along one of the finest ridges in the Red Sea Mountains. Close by, is the lower peak of Jebel Nasb Umsayri, which offers an easier summit with similarly spectacular views. Also found in this area is the Plain of Graygar - a vast plain lined with windswept dunes - and a labyrinth of lowland wadis, called Tala Hussein. Historical sites are found across this region, from Nabataean graffiti to the Roman town of Mons Claudianus, whose ancient gates and narrow streets can still be entered. A great appeal of the Um Anab region is how its scenic diversity and history combine through the landscape. Hikes can be organised here lasting anything from a few hours to several days, most of which count as easy. It is the neighbouring district to Jebel Shayib, and one of the most accessible parts of the Red Sea Mountain Trail, taking around an hour from Hurghada by jeep.
Jebel Um Anab
Jebel Um Anab towers high opposite Jebel Shayib and has three distinctive summits, each shaped like a pyramid. These three summits are connected by a broad, rugged ridge, along which the first section of the Red Sea Mountain Trail runs. Reaching the highest summit of Jebel Um Anab is a technical rock climb, but getting up to the highest parts of the mountain and traversing its ridge needs only scrambling and makes for an adventurous hike with speactacular views on all sides. The summit ridge can be completed in one long day, or worked into a longer multi-day circuit. Sweeping plains, dripping rock springs, Nabataean graffiti and Bedouin rock markings will all be passed by hikers on this loop.
The Red Sea Mountain Trail is divided by two great plains. The most northerly plain is known as Um Anfia. El Graygar is the southerly one. The name El Graygar comes from a Bedouin word for cold, after the bitter winds that sweep across its wide open spaces in winter. The plains of El Graygar and Um Anfia form almost a continuous plain: only a low, gradual pass divides them. El Graygar is surrounded by rugged peaks like Jebel Abu Kharif and Jebel Abu Hamar and lonely moringa trees dot its horizons. Low dunes sweep over its southerly sections. Waterpools, tombs of Bedouin heroes and an old English gold mine can be found in the wadis around the plain and hiking these vast, open solitudes gives something different.
Two great Roman towns are found on the Red Sea Mountain Trail. At the northern end of the trail is the old town of Mons Porphyrites. Mons Claudianus stands at the southern end. Mons means mountain in Latin and Claudianus is thought to have been the Roman Emperor in whose reign the town was built. It was one of Rome's most remote quarrying outposts, where huge quantities of gneiss was cut from the mountains, before being hauled over the desert on wagons and shipped up the Nile to the Mediterannean and onwards to Rome. Alongside the ruined town, watchtowers, waymarkers, broken columns and abandoned bathtubs can be found in the hills, all connected by hiking old Roman paths.
Jebel Nasb - or Nasb Umsayri as it's known in full - is a small peak near the Roman town of Mons Claudianus. The Bedouin say its name comes from a clansman of the Umsayri - a clan of the Maaza tribe - who once dwelled near the bottom of the mountain. It rises high in the midst of a labyrinth of lowland wadis called Tala Hussein and is the most remarkable peak of the region after Jebel Um Anab. Climbing Jebel Tarbush is easier than Jebel Um Anab - with perhaps even more spectacular views - and its summit can be reached with a one or two hour scramble. It can be ascended from the north or south side. A good hike summits the mountain from the north side, continuing south towards Mons Claudianus.