Mount Sinai mountain range at dusk

Considering hiking Mt. Sinai? Egypt is well known for its breathtaking pyramids and history, but it’s also an outdoor lover’s dream. I was lucky enough to join a last-minute tour, which gave me memories of a lifetime.

Mt. Sinai is most famous for being where Christians and Jews believe Moses received the Ten Commandments. But since members of the Abrahamic faith share similar origins, it’s also an important space for Muslims and Jews.

Hundreds of people trek up Mount Sinai, or Moses Mountain, daily. Some do it in the name of religion, others do it for love of the outdoors. Whatever your reason, Mount Sinai should be on your bucket list. 

Mount Sinai Hiking Stats

Mount Sinai is about 2,285 meters (7,497 feet) above sea level. As someone who hikes about twice a month, I found the trail to be difficult. It was crowded and got steeper the higher you went. Some visitors hired camels to take them up the mountain, but the camels could not take them all the way to the top due to the terrain.

I saw people of all ages on the trail, so although I consider it very strenuous, it’s doable if you are physically active. It’s not a trail you want to hop on if you’ve never hiked.

  • Hiking Distance: 11.5 km (7.15 mi) out and back. 
  • Duration: 4.5-6 hours total.
  • Elevation: 700 m (2,296 ft) total elevation gain | 2,285 m (7,497 ft) max elevation.
  • Difficulty: Moderately- DIfficult

Where is Mt. Sinai?

Mount Sinai mountain range at dusk

Mount Sinai, or Jebel Musa in Arabic, is located in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The closest major cities to Mt.Sinai are Dahab and Sharm El-Sheikh. Both are great cities to stay in if you plan to hike it.

Best Time To Hike Mount Sinai

sunrise at Mt Sinai

Most begin the hike around midnight to catch the beautiful sunrise and morning prayers (fajr). We left Dahab at around 8 pm and it took about 2 hours to get to Mount Sinai. The car ride there was uneventful. I recommend eating a light dinner before starting your trip to Sinai. You’ll need the energy later and there’s not much open along the way.

Planning Your Hike

Foreigners are not allowed to hike Mt. Sinai alone. You must go with a paid guide. When you arrive you’ll be teamed with a local bedouin guide. Bedouins live in these mountains and they are the best people to show you around. Our guide was able to explain local wildflowers and introduce us to the Bedouin way of life.

Many tours provide transportation to and from Mt. Sinai and St.Catherine’s Monastery. However, the tours don’t always include the cost of your bedouin guide, as those fees are paid directly at Mt. Sinai.

If you’re traveling solo, you can still be given a guide, but I recommend coming as early as possible for the sunrise hike. We arrived before 12 pm and there was already a long line.

Most importantly, do not take photos when police and security are around. It is illegal and can cause a big scene. They may confiscate your phone or force you to delete everything in front of them. Unknowingly, I took photos, and undercover policemen in plain clothes forced me out of line. It was a huge headache and a terrible start to our hike.

Tips for Climbing Mt. Sinai

My top tips for climbing Mt.Sinai are to start before midnight and, in the words of Erykah Badu, “Pack light.” Here are a few more tips.

  •  Bring a few snacks and at least 2 liters of water. You can also buy snacks, coffee, and tea on the mountain for a premium. 
  • Wearing a jacket is a must during the winter, but vendors sell winter gear at the base if you don’t want to bring one from home. 
  • Since most people do the hike at night, a hiking torch would be beneficial.
  • Make sure to bring Egyptian pounds. It costs about 5 Egyptian pounds to use the bathroom. 
  • The bathrooms I experienced were horrific. You’ll want a light source and eco-friendly wipes.  
  • Pack a camera and tripod because the view is sublime.
  • Sleeping bag if camping overnight.
  • A hiking stick is super useful. The hiking trail is a bit slippery and steep.

The Shops: Food and Drinks on the Mountain

A few shops on the mountain provide a safe place to rest. Depending on the season, it can be a bit crowded. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase, but the prices are about 5 times the normal price. I went through about 3 liters of water during my hike, which wasn’t enough.

I would bring my food next time but I did enjoy the bedouin coffee.

Religious History of Mount Sinai: Moses Mountain

All of the Abrahamic faiths hold Mount Sinai in high esteem. They all believe that Prophet Moses/Musa/Moshe received a divine message on Mount Sinai but there are some differences.

Many hikers come to Mount Sinai as religious pilgrims. It was beautiful to see Muslims, Christians, and Jews praying together. There’s a church and an open mosque located at the top.  Saint Catharine Monastery is the usual next stop for people visiting Mount Sinai. 

Is the Top of Mount Sinai Burnt?

Mt.Sinai landscape with a man and woman in the shoot

This is a common question due to the religious belief that Mount Sinai is where the burning bush incident took place. The top of Mount Sinai is dark in color as compared to other parts of the mountain. Some believe it is due to the fire explained in the Holy Quran, Bible, and Torah. They believe that Secular explorers believe that the color difference is due to a chemical reaction. 

Where to Stay

The best places to stay when doing the Mt.Sinai hike are Sharm El Sheikh or Dahab. Dahab is about 2 hours from Mount Sinai, and Sharm El Sheikh is about 3 hours away. Both cities offer guided tours. A tour guide is mandatory, so you won’t be able to do this hike solo. Cairo is quite far from Mt. Sinai and not an ideal day trip, although you can find lodging nearby. It’s not an ideal place to stay for more than 2 days, though. 

St. Catherine’s Monastery

The best time to visit St. Catherine’s Monastery is right after your hike up Mount Sinai. It’s just a short distance from the mountain, nestled at the base of the mountain. St. Catherine Monastery has a very rich history. Once you arrive, check out the library and the famous Burning Bush.

The Relationship Between Islam and St.Catherine’s Monastery

Lots of people are surprised to find a monastery in Egypt since it’s a predominantly Muslim country. However, protecting Coptic Christians and their churches is crucial, and examples of religious tolerance can be found around Egypt. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon He), the most notable human in Islam, promised the monastery and Christians safety and protection in 628 AD. He signed an agreement that granted the monastery the right to freedom of worship and movement, the ability to appoint judges, and the right to own their monastery.

Egypt is one of the most culturally rich places in the world. Even its hikes are historic! Enjoy your trip and check out my other posts on Egypt while you’re there.

Did you find this post helpful? Please consider pinning it on Pinterest with the images below or following me on Instagram xoxo!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Hiking Mt. Sinai looks like it would be a beautiful and spiritual adventure. It would not occurred to me to start the hike at midnight but of course, that’s the way to do it for the best experience. Thanks for the tip about the bathroom situation. Always good to be prepared.