What to do in St. Catherine ...
(In alphabetical order)
Gordon, a long term resident of St. Catherine, runs stargazing and astronomy groups, with the use of his telescope.
Blue mountain (or blue desert)
Visit the amazing 15 square kilometres artwork by Belgian artist Jeane Verame, who painted parts of the desert UN blue, to symbolise the peace between Israel and Egypt.
Mohamed Mousa runs a camel riding school. Learn how to ride, race, saddle and hug a camel!
there a two eco lodges in the area around St. Catherine: El Karm Eco Lodge and Mount Sina Eco Lodge. Experience quietness, calm and beauty of these special places situated close to the famous Mount Sinai. Enjoy the view of Mount Sinai from your room at the Mount Sina Eco Lodge and relax, hike and enjoy great bedouin food and hospitality.
'Golden cow' carving
Handicraft (bead work and jewellery)
Bedouin women in St. Catherine produce some of the most stunning traditional beadwork, visible (and for sale) in the handicraft centres of Fansina and BedouinCraft. Awad Hussein uses traditional designs with a modern approach to produce unique tin and bead jewellery. For more info about Bedouin handicraft, contact Sheikh Mousa Bedouin Camp.
Herbs and spices
There are many herbal gardens in the valleys surrounding the village and dr. Ahmed is the leading specialist in the art of traditional medicine. Why not pay him a visit? See also the Medicinal Plants Conservation Project.
Hiking / trekking
The Mountain Trekking Office coordinates all the hikes and treks around St. Catherine and is the trekking headquarters of the Jebeliya tribe. There are numerous treks possible, please contact the office to see what would be a good trek for you. from half-day walks around the village to 15 day expeditions across the Sinai.
Icon Adventures offers art holidays and icon painting retreats in and around St. Catherine.
There are a few very interesting websites out there, telling the story of St. Catherine and South Sinai and what you can see and do while here. Discover Sinai is one of them, an ever growing resource of things to see and do and places to stay.
Jeep and camel safari
Maps and books
Geodia publishes many books about the region and its history. You can pick up a copy of the fantastic map of St. Catherine and the region in one of the camps or book shops in town for just 25LE.
There is a marathon and half marathon each year, on the 31st of December, in St. Catherine, South Sinai! It has been on the international agenda for the last 8 years and has seen competitors from all over the world. Come and cheer on the runners, they can use every bit of support at 1600 metres altitude !
Sore limbs after a hike or trek through the beautiful moutains? Let Ahmed El-Sayed (tel 0109 477 5787) take care of it via a massage with herbal oil, extracted form local natural plants.
Medicinal Plants Conservation Project
The MPCP is developing the capacity of the Bedouin community to sustainably cultivate, harvest and process wild Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAP) as well as to inform people of the benefits of their production. Training on conservation practices, public awareness and biodiversity education also form a part of the project, commensurate to the tourist nature of the region.
The Greek Orthodox St. Catherine monastery is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited monastery in the world. Hundreds of visitors flock to see the UN World Heritage Site's beautiful buildings, books and burning bush at the foot of Mount Sinai.
The monastery is open to visitors from Monday till Saturday. Opening times are from 9.00 till 11.45 am, except on Friday, when the monastery is only open from 10.45 till 11.45 am. Days when the monastery is closed due to holidays:
January: 6*, 7, 14, 18, 19 ¤ February: 15, 27, 28, 29 ¤ April: 7, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18* ¤ May: 24 ¤ June: 4
July: 12* ¤ August: 19, 28 ¤ September: 27 ¤ November: 14 ¤ December: 4, 7, 8
* open from 10.45 to 11.45 only
Mount Catherine (highest mountain in Egypt)
Although Mount Sinai grabs a lot of the limelight in the high mountains, Mount Catherine or Jebel Katherina is the highest mountain in the Sinai and Egypt! It's also a tougher climb to the top, but the views at 2,642 metres above sea level (or 8,668 ft), are simply breathtaking.
or Jebel Musa, is undoubtedly the most important mountain in all monotheistic religions. At 2,285 m (7,497 ft) it rises high above the St. Catherine monastery and is a popular tourist destination. Many hundreds see the sun rise over the Sinai each morning.
Meditation / yoga
Mountain biking / cycling
Whether it is a short stroll to see the Blue Desert or a multi-day trek to Dahab or Sharm el-Sheikh, biking the high mountains of the Sinai is a highlight in every cyclist's life. Or you can do a fully arranged Sinai round trip, as long as you bring your own bike and some stamina! (www.cyclingegypt.com)
National park visitor centre
Conveniently located near the entrance of town and the turn-off to the monastery, the visitors centre will provide you with all the necessary information regarding St. Catherine's Protectorate.
Natural pools (for swimming)
Non governemental organisations (NGO's)
Two St. Catherine based NGO's are also sponsor of the Bedouin Bus! The Community Foundation for South Sinai and the Makhad Trust (Nawamis Desert Centre project) help us out in keeping the bus on the road; we hope we can help them out later, with the help of money earned from selling tickets on the bus, from donations and from advertisers/sponsors. If you like to participate in one of the projects of the NGO's, please get in touch with them!
Climbing vertical rock faces at high altitude in remote locations must be the most exhilirating aspect of rock climbing. St. Catherine offers all of that! Check out Verticalzigzag for the most up-to-date and challenging routes in St. Catherine.
St. Catherine has its own Egypt Sandboarding branche in St. Catherine. Come and have some fun!
Call Ahmed Ali for more details on tel 0106 664 6116.
Traditional stories / music
Training / conference centre
Sheikh Sina, a European Union funded initiative to support the Bedouin community, owns a training / conference centre in the heart of St. Catherine Village. Ideal in combination with hikes, treks and Bedouin hospitality.
Varieties of unique animals
Desert fox, white-tailed wheatear, hyrax, nubian ibex, Sinai hardoun and the famous Sinai baton blue butterflies are just a few species of animals that inhabit the region in and around St. Catherine.
Video on St. Catherine and its traditions
Accommodation in St. Catherine
When you come to St. Catherine you can choose to stay at one of the following budget accommodations::
Sheikh Mousa Bedouin Camp - in the centre of the village. Offers treks and can arrange alternative sleeping spots in the mountains. Rooms with en-suite or shared bathroom, dorm beds and camping options. Price range: 15 - 150 LE. Free Wifi. Get in touch with Mohamed Saad for your reservation (tel 0111 362 2225).
Desert Fox Camp - providing a variety of accommodation for individuals and groups. Rooms, dorm and camping and caravaning posibilities. Price range 15 - 160 LE. Camp closest to the monastery. You can reach Desert Fox Camp by calling 0109 473 2417.
Olive Garden Camp
Right in the middle of the village lies Olive Garden Camp, a small cosy camp dotted with young olive trees. For more info ask Ramadan at Mohamed Salem restaurant opposite the mosque. Prices from 50LE for a simple double with ensuite. Phone: 0111 759 8464
Moonland Hotel & Camp - provides rooms and camping options just before hitting the village. Price range from 25 for a dorm bed to 100LE for a double with ensuite. Call Ramadan or Mohamed on 0100 658 9550.
The Monastery Guest House - rooms and dorm beds available for those who want to spend the night next to the oldest, continuously inhabited, monastery in the world. Prices from 200 to 440LE on half board basis (incl. breakfast and dinner). Moussa Bolos, the general manager, can be reached on telephone number 069 347 0353.
Besides the above mentioned camps and guesthouses, there are five luxury hotels in town:
Hotel Wadi Raha (Catherine Village), Hotel Catherine Plaza, Hotel Daniella Village, Morgenland Hotel and the Al-Wadi Al-Mouquddus Hotel. Expect to pay between US$ 40 and US$ 100 per person per night.
The East Delta bus company runs buses to and from Cairo Turgoman station (Cairo Gateway). Buses leave Cairo at 11.00am and arrive approximately six to seven hours later in St. Catherine.
Buses to Cairo leave St. Catherine at 6am every day from the East Delta bus station behind the mosque; you're likely to arrive in Cairo around 1pm. Costs are 55LE one way (as per August 1, 2012).
Mini-buses to El-Tor leave every day of the week (except Friday) at 7:30 am and 2:30 pm. Departure from opposite the mosque.
The mini-buses depart from El-Tor at 2:30 pm and 8.00 pm (also NOT on Friday).
Check for a full list of connections in and to the Sinai here.