Sinai Trail




The Sinai Trail has been in development since 2014 and is now ready to walk. Egypt’s first long distance public hiking trail and one of a number of new hiking trails being built across the Middle East. Beginning by the Gulf of Aqaba and ending in the highlands of St Katherine – the so-called Roof of Egypt – the Sinai Trail is a 200km sea-to-summit route cutting through Egypt’s iconic desert wilderness. Built by Bedouin guides from three different tribes, with backing from NGOs, and help from local volunteers, the Sinai Trail is a new way for Egyptians and tourists to experience and explore their country.

In December 2016 I joined the inaugural group of guides and hikers for part of their 12 day trek and made a series of portraits of the people this trail is bringing together.

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Musallem is one of the Tarabin tribe’s most experienced, trusted guides. As well as hiking, he has been a pioneer for mountain biking in the Sinai, developing many new routes. One of Musallem’s greatest passions in life is passing his knowledge of the Sinai and its Bedouin culture to younger generations. He is developing a new Sinai Trail training programme. His dream is to run his own Bedouin school.

Camels and tents mix during sunrise in a campsite near the Nawamis.

Mohammad Al Zaeadeen and Mohammad Al Homran, two guides who helped with the creation of the Jordan Trail joined the expedition but took the time to climb their own hill.

Nasser Monten is main bedouin guides who lead the expedition.

Nawamis are circular stone tombs located in the Sinai desert. The bones found in the tombs date from 4000–3150 BCE. That is older than the pyramids, yet they are little visited or understood.

Faraj belongs to a tribe called the Muzeina, and grew up in Nuweiba, near the start of the Sinai Trail. He began working as a cameleer in his teens; today, he is a guide and camel breeder, and is also helping to develop sustainable agriculture in Nuweiba. Every year, he enters his camels in the Tarabin vs Muzeina camel race; he hasn’t won the coveted top prize, but has high hopes for his newest camel.

Yousef Hussein is one of the younger guides trained in the skills of navigation, and caring for camels and hikers.

Bethan Staton, one of the journalists that joined us on the expedition.

The far mountains are actually part of the Hijaz Mountain Range in Saudi Arabia. This area was historically traveled by pilgrims on their way to Mecca.

Cristina Gheza, an Italian has lived in the Sinai and led diving expeditions for many years.

Near the horizon you can see the road leading from St. Catherines to Dahab running through a cut in the mountains.

Little is known about this drawing, but our guides say that it is clearly from a battle scenes since the camel's tails are standing up and agitated.

Nasser Monten tells a story during a lunch stop.

A family house makes a convenient place for lunch.

Our guides told the story of a family that got greedy and tried to control this oasis and its date trees. After many dreams warning them to stop the two brothers died unexpectedly. Now it is a shared oasis that anyone can come and rest in.

One of the hikers Stewart, a retired professor, came from Fargo, North Dakota.

While there were plenty of signs of life along the trail the government was rarely visible. One day 6 jets could be seen flying in formation screeching across the sky to the north. The guides said this was unusually and the last time they saw something like it was when President Sisi was returning from Saudi Arabia and his plane was flanked by military Jets.

Karim shot video throughout the trip and is working on a documentary about the trail.

Sinai Rocks

Ben is one of the organizers and ambassadors for the Sinai Trail in the Sinai and outside. He has hiked extensively in the Sinai for many years.

Sinai Trail

A cairn left on top of a mountain in the Sinai