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 – on Mount Sinai – 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.
The geography in central Sinai is varied and the guides are great so it was never boring or tedious. We would walk through a valley then clamber up mountains to see the view. Sometimes the Hijaz in Saudi Arabia was visible, sometimes Mount Sinai itself, there were always desert gardens, and homes to stop and rest in, but usually we camped in the wadis and hiked early.
The hike isn’t very strenuous because the guides used camels to carry our equipment and had younger men arriving in camp early to prepare everything for the nights.
It is an amazing project that is helping unite the tribes around the Sinai to increase tourism and collaboration inland instead of just the government development happening in costal cities like Sharm-el-Sheikh.