The Sinai can be trekked in every month but big differences in altitude give each trekking region its own climate. The high mountains are good when you want somewhere cool in the height of the searing Sinai summer; similarly, lowland areas like the desert and parts of the Wadi Feiran region stay warm in winter, which makes them attractive for trekking at this time. To get the best out of every trekking region spring or autumn are excellent. Quite apart from the climate, there are other things to think about when trekking: camel races are a lot of fun in winter and autumn sees the annual Feast of St Katherine. There’s also the month of Ramadan, which can have a big effect on your trip – see below.
SPRING (mid March to May) This is probably the prettiest time of the whole year: ephemeral flowers bloom, orchard trees come into season and wildlife becomes more active. If it’s been a wet winter, expect it to be all the more colourful. Water levels are usually high in spring and seasonal creeks might even form, gushing through dense thickets of bamboo and forming high waterfalls in the wadis. It’s not too hot anywhere, but it DOES begin to warm up from the end of April; especially lower down, in the desert so try to trek before this.
SUMMER (June to mid-September) By this time, it’s absolutely searing in the desert. Lazing in a hammock feels hard enough, let alone doing anything as active as trekking. This is a time for the high mountains but even here – on the open trail – don’t understimate the heat. The sun is fierce and it’s always tough; you have to carry more water than usual and take long, siesta-type breaks, sitting out the hottest period of the afternoon in the cool shade of a rock. Ramadan will land in this time until at least 2018 as well (see notes below).
AUTUMN (mid September to November) Everything begins to get pleasantly cool and by October the desert is cool enough for trekking. The High Mountain Region is the best spot at this time, with trees in Bedouin orchards going through colourful leaf falls. Water levels tend to be at their lowest after the long, dry summer, so you will still have to carry plenty of water at this time. If you visit in November, you might be lucky enough to see the Feast of St Katherine: an ancient ceremony still held at the Monastery of St Katherine.
WINTER (December to mid March) This is the best, coolest time for trekking in the desert. It’s bitterly cold in the high mountains at this time and snow falls most years, usually between December and March. If you want to see it the best bet is mid December to mid January. Rain can be expected too and creeks and waterfalls often form in the wadis again. Winter is the big camel racing time in the Sinai, with January the best month of all. If you hear about a camel race, you should ALWAYS go to see it.
WHAT ELSE IS IMPORTANT? RAMADAN – the Muslim month of fasting – influences trekking. Most guides DO work in Ramadan, but they observe the fast, not eating or drinking anything on trail. So the pace will be slower, rest stops longer, and the distances you cover less (RAMADAN will start around 18 July 2014; 18 June, 2015; 6 June 2016). EID EL ADHA (or EID EL KIBEER) is a three day feast about two months after the end of Ramadan and – on the first day – it’ll be near-impossible to find guides for trekking.