Trekking bases

Bedouin village in Seil Aleyat, Sinai, The Trekking Guide_resultAlmost all the treks in the High Mountain Region start from the town of St Katherine. For trekking in other areas, you’ll have to base yourself elsewhere. WADI FEIRAN is the main trekking base for the treks to Jebel Serbal, Jebel Salla and Serabit el Khadem. For treks in THE DESERT there isn’t one single trekking base, but different trailheads; all noted below. This section introduces the main trekking bases for every trek in the book, giving the essential pointers you need to get started.

WADI FEIRAN Wadi Feiran is a big wadi that runs between the Gulf of Suez and the outskirts of St Katherine. It’s virtually off the map for tourism and there are no hotels, banks, ATMS, cafes or other facilities, which means it can be a tough place to visit. Wadi Feiran is dotted with small villages, most of which aren’t important. SEIL ALEYAT is the key trekking village and it stands next to DEIR BANAT, the local convent. There are two Bedouin gardens where you can sleep and Deir Banat also offers rooms. The treks for Jebel Serbal and Jebel Salla start from Wadi Feiran, along with the Wadi Feiran to Serabit el Khadem trek.

Getting there & away The EAST DELTA bus between Cairo and St Katherine can be used for Wadi Feiran. If you’re coming from Cairo, it leaves the TURGOMAN GARAGE at 11am (LE55). It usually gets to Wadi Feiran around 5pm. Travelling the other way, the bus leaves St Katherine at 6am, arriving in Wadi Feiran about 6.45am. Flag it down from the roadside. A minibus goes between St Katherine and El Tur, via Wadi Feiran. It runs twice daily but check schedules as they can vary. For taxis, pay about from LE60-100 to St Katherine; to El Tur, about LE200-300.

Finding guides Wadi Feiran is Gararsha territory and only Gararsha tribesmen can work as guides. You can find guides easily by asking in the gardens near Seil Aleyat. It’s more complicated for the WADI FEIRAN TO SERABIT EL KHADEM trek. This goes through several tribal territorie and you sometimes need a new guide in each. Usually, the Gararsha guide you start off with will ask around for you and sort everything out as you go.

Sunset, Sinai coastRAS SHAITAN Meaning ‘The Devil’s Head’ – supposedly after the shape of a local headland – this is an area of budget beach camps, about 15km north of Nuweiba. The camps stretch around a big sandy bay and the vibe ranges from the laid-back to the outright New Age. The RAS SHAITAN TO EIN HUDERA trek starts here and it can be nice to get away from the bigger towns and stay in one of the beach camps here the night before.

Getting there & away – Just inland from the main bay is the Nuweiba- Taba highway. EAST DELTA buses run both ways along the coast and you can use them to get to Ras Shaitan. Tell the driver you want  to get off at Ras Shaitan; if he wants to know a camp, say CASTLE BEACH; this is a well-known camp near the main bay. To get away, you can use buses too.

Finding guides – It’s a good idea to find guides in Nuweib, because you will have more choice. But you can organise in Ras Shaitan too, asking around in the beach camps. Either way, guides can be from either the Muzeina or Tarabin tribes. The trek crosses both of their lands.

OTHER DESERT TRAILHEADS 

Ein Hudera, Sinai, The Trekking GuideEIN HUDERA – this is one of the Sinai’s prettiest oases and a crossroads for trekking routes. It’s crossed by the RAS SHAITAN TO EIN HUDERA trek and also the DESERT TRAVERSE. It’s close to the trailhead for the JEBEL MUTAMIR trek too. It’s an hour’s walk off the St Katherine-Dahab highway and is a great place to stay. You CAN find guides for treks in Ein Hudera, but it’s a bit of a gamble: they won’t always be around. It’s best to find guides in Wadi Arada or Nawamis (see below).

WADI ARADA – this is a small, roadside hamlet on the St Katherine-Dahab highway, about 20km west of Ein Hudera, and it’s the start of the DESERT TRAVERSE . Guides are always available but it’s a  hamlet with a limited choice and basic English. This is a long trek and it might take a few hours to get it all together: food, water, camels etc. If you’re in a small group, you might even have to wait till the next day. The best option would be to sleep in Ein Hudera.

NAWAMIS – this is another small Bedouin village and the trailhead of the HADUDA DUNE trek. It’s a few kilometres from Ein Hudera and a 20 minute walk from the St Katherine-Dahab highway. It’s easy to find guides but the choice is again limited and English basic.

Getting to desert trailheads & away – All these trailheads are close to the St Katherine-Dahab highway. The BEDOUIN BUS gives one option for getting to them. It runs bewteen St Katherine and Dahab on Tuesdays/ Fridays and Nuweiba and St Katherine on Wednesdays/ Sundays. Wherever it leaves from – St Katherine, Dahab or Nuweiba – it’ll take about 45-60 mins to get to the trailheads. Whichever way you’re going, try and call the driver in advance (+20100-310 6228). There is a good mobile signal in this part of the desert so calling should be easy. A private taxi will cost about LE120-150 to/ from this area from St Katherine, Dahab or Nuweiba.