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Bedouins Sinai peninsula, Mount Moses, Saint Catherine’s Monastery
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What to Visit:
Human presence in Sinai dates back to 8000 years ago, where early settlers known as the “Bronze Settlers” arrived to the peninsula in search of valuable metals. Hence, they developed the region, drawing ancient Pharaos’ attention to its wealth and significance. Consequently, the next three millennia had set Sinai as the main mining region, and a famous military route between Egypt and great civilizations. Around 1400 BC Sinai played a host to memorable events engraved in both history, and sacred books. Most famous was Moses leading the Israelites through its vast expanse on the epic journey recorded in the Exodus. The 7th century witnessed the advent of Islam, drawing pilgrims from Egypt to Mecca whom shortly resided in Sinai as a rest stop. Moreover, the initiation of the crusaders’ war set Sinai on high political importance, as it served as a grand fortress to protect Islam and the Muslims. Recently, the area has been plagued by conflicts, between 1967 and 1982, manifested in the Israeli occupation. However, Camp David’s treaty was a turning point in Egyptian history, as occupied areas returned to Egypt, and ever since the region has been rapidly developing to draw an influx of tourists, helping the economy to rapidly develop.

Getting there and about:
Sinai’s coastal roads are good and relatively safe, allowing visitors to reach the main resorts by either bus, car or service taxi. Ideally exploring the peninsula’s interior is best done through organized trips with jeeps, camels coupled by Bedouin guidance available in almost every resort. There is a good coastal road on the western Red Sea to Hurghada and Port Safaga, and from Port Said to Suez. International travelers can easily connect to Sinai through Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada’s International airports. It is highly recommended that visitors carry their Identification cards while visiting inland sites, as checkpoints stretch along the Red Sea’s coastal road.

Sinai Peninsula’s Bedouins:
The word Bedouin derives from the Arabic word "bedwu", which translates to “desert dwellers”. Bedouins of the Sinai Peninsula are descendants of tribes from the Arabian peninsula, who lead a nomadic lifestyle, survive harsh conditions and live off herding sheep, camels and goats, while sleeping in goat skin tents in the barren desert. The Bedouins have a distinctive nomadic culture, represented in unique clothing. Visitors will be amazed by the originality of women’s clothing, reflected in don black garments with veils. With the recent influx of tourists, Bedouins started to open to change, and adopt western-style clothing and jeep cars instead of camels. However, exploring the Bedouin culture is highly recommended as a major highlight of visiting the peninsula, as visitors can enjoy a Bedouin night characterized by fire grilling of traditional goat meat in the midst of candle lit mountains, and beautiful nomadic rhythms that bring the barren desert to life!

Essentials at a glance:
Mount Sinai (Mount Moses): For over fifteen centuries, Mount Moses has drawn an influx of tourists and pilgrims fascinated by that absolute belief that Moses had spoken to God, and had received the 10 commandments on its peak. As visitors stroll down Sikket Sayedna Mousa or “Moses Path”, magnificent chapels and structures of Saint Mary decorate the route, vibrating a divine and indescribable feel. It is highly recommended to reach the mountain’s summit to see where the 70 wise men awaited while God spoke to Moses, and do not miss the holy trinity chapel bejeweling the mountain’s top.

Saint Catherine’s Monastery: Completely isolated for many years and surrounded by red granite mountains, the fascinating Orthodox monastery is on the main tourist trail, as busloads of visitors arrive each day. Founded in AD 527 by Emperor Justinian, the Monastery is said to be the oldest in the world and most blessed, as monks claim that they have found St Catherine’s intact body in the mountains, and therefore the monastery was given its name in the 10th century. Recommended: Be prepared to climb Egypt’s highest mountain, as a tiring journey of 2.64 Km (8,666 feet) offers a truly outstanding view worth the effort, taking in the gulfs of Aqaba, and Suez, as well as the mountains of Africa and Saudi Arabia. Do not forget to grab a camera to capture the beauty of this once in a lifetime scene, and a jacket, as the mountain’s top tends to be very cold, even in summer. Tea, coffee and blankets are available for tourists once they arrive, and if you are too tired to walk down, camels and horses are available.

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