A few years ago I travelled solo to Egypt where I would meet up with other travellers for the usual gammit of Egyptian experiences; a float down the Nile, a camp in the desert, and a wander in ancient tombs. This is the continuation of my adventure. KrisMt Sinai has absolutley scratched my Mountain high itch. After leaving Cairo we endured a very bumpy 7 hour journey East to the Asian part of Egypt – Sinai. An incredibly dry landscape with high granite peaks flowed past our first glimpse of the azure Red Sea. Named the Red Sea because apparently at night the granite cliffs reflect and turn the sea a reddish colour. So here I am on the coastline of that sea looking across to Saudi Arabia so clearly on the horizon; in a tranquil little town called Dahab which is to be my home for a few days.
But yesterday remains to be told. I was excited about hiking to the top of the mountain that apparently Moses received the 10 commandments – but not at all for that reason. We started late afternoon after a bumpy bus ride. As we left the wide brown valley behind, the arid granite scape rose up like towering apostles. I could imagine Moses in this scene, the shaky dramatic music and the task at hand – smiling as my childhood religious class flash-backed.
As we quickly met the sharp mountain incline the sauntering camels greeted us with the only colour in the pink and sand palette. A steady few hours hiking lay ahead, ending at the 2,200 metre summit. We reached the top nearing sun set as the soft light illuminated the quaint church on top; in every direction mountains enclosed our high.
The new inspiration for me that day was the local Bedouin who walked effortlessly with us. A spritely 55 year old man called Haj Shaleh – I liked him instantly. Named Haj because he has visited his holy place of Mecca like Christians that pilgrimage to Jerusalum; he walks up the Mountain twice a day and beams encouragement right through you. His smiling eyes warmed our cold hands at the peak.
As the orange glow of the sun set I stood up from my chosen rock and cast something far down below – a piece of my recent past that needed to be severed. Sinai seemed to be the perfect place to cast off any negativity. I don’t believe in the story of Moses but I definitely felt the spirituality and beauty of the landscape. Mountain tops will always have that appeal for me and if it’s the place that Christians, Jews and Muslims believe to be chosen then all the better.
After sunset the sharp cold came quickly. The sky turned pitch as we descended, but the almost moonless sky rewarded us with an incredible carpet of stars. We all felt elated and buzzed, Mt Sinai being the highlight of this trip for me so far. I’m energised by the starkness of the treeless mountains and now soaking up the contrast of being beach side – Dahab has diving, discos, quad biking and camels sauntering on the beach.
I’m up for all of it.