Introduction

Mount Sinai is a historically important place for several religions. It is the kind of place you want to visit when arriving in Dahab, but it’s also where numerous questions will start to arise. We have noticed that one of the main concerns regarding visiting Mount Sinai is security. In many Facebook or WhatsApp groups, people ask mainly: Are Mount Sinai and St. Catherine safe? Is it worth it? How can you get there? What should I bring with me? If you are looking for an answer to this question, then you should continue reading our article.

What are the Pros and Cons of Visiting Mount Sinai?

You will experience a breathtaking landscape of mountains

If you do the sunrise hike, you’ll see one of the most beautiful sunrises and sky of stars you’ve ever seen

You’ll see a place with impressive historical significance, which is holy among many religions.

It is very exhausting, especially climbing the stairs at the end in combination with the lack of sleep if you do the hike at night

Especially in late autumn, winter, and early spring, it gets freezing on top of the mountain while waiting for the sunrise

Camels close to the top of Mount Sinai

Brief Summary about Mount Sinai

It is the mountain at which Moses received the Ten Commandments by God, according to the bible. The history that beholds this place has marked an entire era. Even for people less interested in history and religion, this place will impress with its breathtaking scenery.

How tall is Mount Sinai?

The summit of Mount Sinai is at an altitude of 2,285 meters.

Where is Mount Sinai located?

Contrary to popular belief, Mount Sinai is not in Saudi Arabia. You can find Mount Sinai on the Sinai Peninsula in eastern Egypt, close to the famous beach destinations Dahab and Sharm El Sheikh. It’s located next to St Catherine. You can also find the Saint Catherine’s Monastery on the way to the summit of Mount Sinai.

List of Essentials to bring with you

Before telling you about our experience, let us go through the essentials you should bring with you.

  • Backpack: Small to medium, depending on what you carry and how well you can pack.
  • Passport: They will ask for it at the entrance when buying your tickets and at some military checkpoints on the road.
  • Water & snacks: Consider walking up-hill for 4 hours approx, there are also small huts selling snacks and coffees on the path to the top of mount Sinai, but it’s pricier if you buy it there
  • Hiking shoes or shoes you feel comfortable walking long distances: In the beginning, you will walk a stone path, but later it will be just a dirt road to reach the mountain’s peak. At the top, there are many rock stairs.
  • (Warm) Sport clothes: If you have special clothes for hiking (dry fit), you’ll be fine, but if not, be sure to have an extra shirt just in case you sweat a lot. Bring long pants, leggings, warm socks, and long sleeve shirts. It gets freezing at night, especially on the top of Mount Sinai.
  • Warm Jacket: Ideally one which can protect you from cold wind.
  • Scarf: The air can get freezing at the peak, so if you are sensitive to the cold air, this could save you.
  • Hat: Welcome to the desert. At night, you’ll freeze, but as soon as the sun rises, you’ll burn, so better be safe than sorry and have a nice hat to cover you from the sun. A winter hat would be a great idea if you do the night climb in late autumn, winter, or early spring.
  • Sunscreen: We already know how important it is to use sunscreen daily, especially in the desert.
  • Cash: There are no ATMs directly at Mount Sinai. You’ll need to pay for everything in cash, cards are not accepted. Worst case, you need to go to the nearby town St. Catherine as there is one ATM before hiking up on Mount Sinai, but we strongly recommend you to bring some cash for supplies with you.
View from the mountain of Sinai with the sun starting to rise on the horizon

Is Mount Sinai safe to visit?

Mount Sinai is a safe place to visit. Over the past few years, Egypt has put great effort into improving its security, especially in touristic areas. There are many military checkpoints around this area to ensure safety. However, you should still check the situation before your visit because it might change quickly. Furthermore, you are only allowed to hike up Mount Sinai with a guide at the moment. Occasionally, the tour buses get accompanied by a police escort for parts of the road to Mount Sinai.

Along the road

Currently, the only significant threat along the road is camels. According to one of the drivers, camels come to this part of the hills to eat. They could appear on the highway at any time, and that’s where the drivers need to be careful to avoid crashing into one.

Along the hike

You also should be careful when climbing up and down the stairs before the summit of Mount Sinai as the distances between them are irregular and if you fall down you could injure yourself seriously.

On your hike up, you will often be approached by pushy camel riders. They will remind you how far the hike up is (but they typically exaggerate). If you decide that you want to go up by camel, make sure you negotiate to get a fair price and also check if the camel looks healthy and is treated well. On your way back down, you will be approached by groups of children who will aggressively beg for money.

What is the best time to visit Mount Sinai?

Generally, it’s recommended to visit mount Sinai between mid-May and late September. We went in mid-October. At the top of the mountain it is freezing, but along the route it’s bearable. When the sun starts to go out, you immediately start to feel the heat again. In winter, the temperature could drop significantly (it even sometimes snows) so you need to take even warmer clothes, especially if you do the night hike. If you hike during the day, it might get extremely hot in summer.

You should also be aware of the moon cycle. If you visit Mount Sinai during the full moon, you will have more light while hiking up at night, but you won’t see as many stars due to the brightness as you would without the full moon.

View on sun starting to rise in the top of Mount Sinai

How to get to Mount Sinai?

Currently, there are no buses going to St. Catherine (Google Maps Link). You could hire a taxi from Dahab, Cairo, or Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Catherine, but this is not recommended due to the security situation. If you are unlucky, you might not be allowed to pass some military checkpoints and will be forced to return. The organized tours are very affordable, and you anyway are only allowed to hike up Mount Sinai with a tour guide. You can either book a night hiking trip (as we did) or arrange a regular morning one-day trip. We recommend the night hiking trip to anyone who wants to see a breathtaking sunrise on the top of a mountain.

How much does a trip to Mount Sinai cost?

This depends on the tour operator you book it with, so make sure you compare the prices before booking. We booked the night hiking trip with Planet Oasis in Dahab. They charged us 35 USD, including the transportation, the guide, and the entry to the Mountain and Saint Catherine’s Monastery. There are also tour operators charging more for the same trip, but we also found later tour operators who only charged 25 USD for the trip. Also ask what your tour includes, as some operators charge another 10 USD later to enter the monastery.

How long does the trip to Mount Sinai take?

If you book the night trip from Dahab, you will leave at night (around 10 pm) and return the next day at noon (around 12 pm). It usually takes about 1hr and a half to get there from Dahab. If your minibus needs to stop often at the military checkpoints, it will take longer.

Once you arrive, it will take you around three hours to hike up to the top, depending on how fast your guide is walking and how many breaks you do. You’ll wait then on the top of Mount Sinai for the sunrise. If you are sooner there you can ensure to get a good spot for the sunrise as it’s getting very packed the closer it is to the sunrise.

The way down will take you around one hour, approximately, depending as well on how fast you walk and how many times you stop. When you arrive at the monastery, you need to wait until it opens (usually around 9 am, but occasionally, they open a little earlier). The visit inside the monastery only lasts for a maximum of 30 minutes. Then you must walk another 10 minutes back to the parking slot, where your minibus will take you back to where you came from.

View on the St. Catherine Monastery at Mount Sinai

Is it worth visiting mount Sinai?

Yes, it is absolutely worth it, no doubt! It was such a fantastic experience for us. Although we will not deny that it was also challenging to cope with the coldness on top, the stairs, and the lack of sleep, it was absolutely worth it. We strongly recommend the night trip to anyone who wants to test their endurance and enjoy a beautiful sunrise. It’s undoubtedly one of the best trips to do on the Sinai Peninsula.

Are you also planning to visit Dahab and maybe even work remotely from there? If yes, then we strongly recommend you to read here our full Digital Nomads Guide to Dahab. 

Or are you planning to travel by land between Egypt, Israel and Jordan? Then continue reading here