Mediterranean Cycopaths

Sinai Peninsula

4th March 2007

The last few days we have encountered sights to suit all tastes whilst traversing the age old Sinai Peninsula.  First up was the Suez Canal, a feat of engineering which has fascinated me since I was a youngster (one of the many things) and it truly was a spectacle to see giant freighters passing by within 100 metres of our shoreline vantage point.  It was a shame that we couldn’t get some sort of aerial view to take in the scale/logistics however security was very tight – no pics allowed (Sean did secretly snap off a few, but they don’t warrant posting) and machine gun toting soldiers lined the banks and the entrance to the tunnel which passes underneath.  A very valuable piece of real estate as it’s history reflects.

From there it was nose to the grindstone as we crossed the width of the mountainous and barren Sinai Desert.  Apparently this task took Moses and the Israelites 40 years. They should have used bicycles – it took us 2 days. This stint culminated in a 35km descent through a stunning maze of pink hued mountains which eventually opened up to reveal the waters of the Aqaba Gulf, hemmed in by the similarly rugged and picturesque Saudi Arabian coast in the distance.

We stayed at a very relaxed beachside camp in Nuweiba, where we started to make up for a bit of lost time in the beer, beach and banana lounge department. Our 2 nights here were bisected with an excursion up to the St. Katherine’s protectorate, an area which encompasses both St. Katherine’s monastery and Mt. Sinai, which are the sites of two Biblical occurences – the burning bush and delivery of 10 Commandments respectively.

The thing to do is climb Mt. Sinai by moon / torch light early in the morning and watch the sunrise from the top. It isn’t an overly unique pursuit with pilgrims of various denomination being joined by busloads of resort dwellers that have managed to pry themselves off the coastal beaches.

In order to escape the crowd, we bypassed the long and winding camel trail in favour of the 3750 ‘Steps of Penitence’, built by a Monk over many years in order to redeem his sins. I hate to think what he did to deserve that (perhaps one of the local goats could shed some light) but we were glad he did.

What followed was a striking sunrise and, amazingly, some celestial contact (see next post) – which was a real bonus.

Mt.Sinai Sunrise

Mt. Sinai

A day later we caught the ferry to Aqaba (Jordan) which is necessary to avoid Israel and, more specifically, the Israeli Visa stamp. So we’re out of Africa and now it’s onwards and upward through the Middle East.



March 6, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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