Apr 14, 2024 10 min read

Sunrise on Mount Sinai. Climbing the Mountain, a Test of Endurance.

Whether it will be adrenaline-challenging for you or just a heartfelt pilgrimage, I would be pleased to invite you to explore changing moments and the rough beauty of Mount Sinai through my eyes in this story.

Climbing Mount Sinai
Climbing Mount Sinai
Table of Contents

Climbing Mount Sinai for me was a blessing. But it was also a test of my physical endurance. Although my short adventure in Egypt happened several months ago, the longing for my soulful places and your questions keep my memories alive, and they come to my mind more often than one might imagine.

I belong to those places, after all...! That's why I've decided now to write about those events and not about other current ones, numerous though they are, about which I haven't managed to write yet.

I Rediscovered Egypt After More Than a Year

climbing on the mount sinai, egypt

About how I rediscovered Egypt after more than a year, how everything was organized and the rest, I started writing immediately when I returned, but I gave up. Maybe I'll tell you in a separate article, as the Egypt season is approaching again.

Now, about my adventure climbing Mount Sinai, about how I managed to overcome this endurance test, but especially about the absolutely beautiful sunrise from up there, from over 2000 meters.

Now, let me tell you how it was for me climbing Mount Sinai (and descending of course 🙂 ), and you draw your conclusions. Right off the bat I'll say it: the climb is not for everyone!

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As we well know, the majority of Egyptians are extremely religious people (about 90% of them are Muslims), and most women cover themselves from head to toe.

A certain physical condition is absolutely necessary, and beyond all the physical effort and the superb panorama from the height, we must also consider the spiritual aspect of the mountain. Because in the end, climbing Mount Sinai involves an ascent not just physically but also with the soul. It's very difficult in those places to be just a tourist.

General Information About Mount Sinai

mount sinai

When you decide to climb Mount Sinai, it is absolutely necessary to have some general knowledge about this place. Or common sense, as I like to call it.

Otherwise, you might find yourself a quarter way up the trail and say: what’s this, just rocks? I can't go on, but I hadn’t imagined it would be like this… And I say this because I've seen a few cases in the group I climbed the mountain with. Climbing the mountain is not like a walk on the boulevard, obviously!

Speaking of information, well, if you don’t have it, you inform yourself! And that's exactly what the internet and our friend Google are for. Okay, what's with this mountain?

Mount Sinai, also known as the Mountain of Moses, is the place where Prophet Moses saw the Burning Bush and received the Tablets of the Ten Commandments from God.

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Lately, I’ve been receiving more and more questions about traveling to Egypt. And I’m really happy about that because it means people are reading my articles 🙂 On this note, thank you!

For more on the religious aspect of the mountain, you should look it up from appropriate sources.

Geographically, Mount Sinai is located in Egypt, on the Sinai Peninsula, specifically, and has a maximum altitude of 2285 meters. As a landmark, it is near the city of Saint Catherine (Sant Katrin) and Mount Catherine (2629 m, the highest peak in Egypt).

At the foot of Moses’ Mountain lies the St. Catherine's Monastery, the starting point for all those who wish to follow the trail to the mountain's summit. It’s relatively easy to reach here, especially for those on vacation in the Red Sea resorts – Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Ras Shitan, Nuweibaa, etc.

There are also many tourist programs that, in addition to classic pilgrimages through Israel, include a trip following in the footsteps of Moses.

How Do You Get There?

get to mount Sinai

The trail on Mount Sinai is quite difficult, which is why I mentioned earlier that it is not for everyone. The mountain is over 2000 meters high, made entirely of rock, and very steep. The climb is not easy but surely worth the effort. Do you need to prepare to climb this mountain? Definitely!

It is certain that to be able to climb, you need to join an organized group. Or, to avoid the downsides of these group hikes, find a guide with whom you can make the journey.

I'm not saying others haven't managed on their own on the mountain, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Why do I say this? Well, the climb is done at night! It's very easy to get lost on the mountain.

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Guests from all over the world come for the tranquil atmosphere and for the services that Egyptians offer in their friendly and smiling way.

There are no signs, or a good demarcation of the path. Yes, you can also do it during the day, but I don't think you want to faint from the heat. And besides, wouldn’t it be a shame to miss the sunrise?

I knew from home that I wanted to climb the mountain, so I packed some sports items in my luggage. Hard to find such things in my wardrobe :))) lucky from going to the gym, I’ve recently acquired some sports gear and leggings 🙂 A pair of sports shoes, some thicker leggings, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved blouse, and something to wear on my head.

I had researched beforehand how it's done, how long it takes, how hard it is. I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.

The climb started around 1 in the morning, right from where St. Catherine's Monastery is located, which I was going to see in the light on the way down.

We left from Sharm el Sheikh around 10 PM, went through the usual filters and checkpoints of the Egyptian army, and after meeting our guide and a brief briefing, we set off.

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We were 7 people + the guide. Behind us, a large, noisy group of about 80 people, coming with two buses. We managed just in time to slip in front of them at the checkpoint and thus got ahead.

The Climb is Done at Night

climbing mount Sinai at night

As I mentioned, the climb started around 1 AM, and about 3 hours later we were at the top. With flashlights, each of us lit the way, to see where we were stepping. But it was so beautiful!!! I couldn’t take my eyes off the starry sky.

The trail is tough, over 7 km of rocky terrain, climbing up a path of stones and boulders, where in places hardly two people can fit. We took breaks, about every 1 km traveled.

Here and there, you find makeshift “shops” where you can buy water, tea, a snack. I had all these in my backpack. Or souvenirs! It was terribly hard in places, I felt so weak, I could no longer move my legs, but I didn’t want to give up, or miss the sunrise. And I kept encouraging myself, continuously.

The hardest part of all that is said about this mountain is where the stairs begin.
Up to this point, you can choose to climb by camel or on foot, but the 800 steps (I could have sworn there were 8000 🙂 ) are climbed one by one.

In my case, about 10-15 at a time, with frequent stops of about 2 minutes. It's very hard! Don’t imagine they are steps like in a building! They are basically uniform, steep stone boulders, and nothing to lean on.

A railing would have been a big help! And when I looked around and saw elderly people, old monks, or worse... some in flip-flops... I somehow gathered strength!

Is it possible to visit Egypt on your own? Definitely, yes!
Are you better off, from a tourist point of view, if you travel to Egypt on your own? Personally, I tend to believe not, but let’s dive into my story.

As cold as I was at the start, I was just as warm as I climbed, despite the 6°C at the summit. Well... the effort of climbing took its toll on me. Heated, sweaty, with my clothes clinging to me and gasping like I rarely have, I sat on a rock and quietly waited, mouth agape and eyes wide, for the sun to appear.

I would have liked to be alone, so I could enjoy the breathtaking view, but I tried as much as possible to ignore the rest... Yes, I would have liked to meditate in peace!

The most spectacular sunrise I've ever seen!
… and I’ve seen quite a few, being such an early riser!

It was a feeling that I just can't describe. Nor am I trying to find the right words. It was wow!!! I felt so grateful to the Universe for this reward and truly felt lucky to have had the chance to enjoy such a moment.

Many have asked me about the emotional impact, about the spiritual side of the place. Well… what can I say?! Making a bad joke, maybe I’m just insensitive, since I didn't feel anything special, like everyone says :))) It's kind of embarrassing to say, but there I go!

Maybe I should climb it again sometime? I didn’t feel any thrill even at the pyramids, although… I keep going back over and over and over… Well… these soulful things can’t be discussed, you just go up there and see for yourself! And let me know! … am I the only "weird" one maybe ???

Descending From Mount Sinai

descending from mount sinai

And now comes the fun part of this adventure. At least it's daylight. But what do you do when the sun is high, starting to scorch, even though it's only 6 in the morning, your legs no longer obey you, being used to climbing, and in front of you stretches a chasm of 2000 meters? You make a deep bow and pray to all the saints for a safe descent!

Difficult at first, because the muscles in the legs were hard to control, but gradually they adapted. A layer of clothing off, a short break, a photo, and in two hours I was down, at the foot of the mountain and many degrees warmer. About 35 degrees officially, but it felt much hotter to me, I stepped into the cool shade of the trees inside the monastery courtyard.

The descent is beautiful, now you have the chance to see where you climbed and often marvel that you found the path in the dark. Lucky to have a guide, because alone you would not have managed. No phone signal up there, obviously!

The mountain is spectacular, the reddish color of the rock changes in dozens of shades, depending on the intensity of the sunlight and the angle you look at it. Vegetation…? Completely absent, here and there a stubborn little plant grows among the rocks. Otherwise… as far as the eye can see, slopes of stone.

Saint Catherine's Monastery – "the Site of the Burning Bush"

Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai

The monastery was built on the site where it is believed that the prophet Moses saw the Burning Bush, which is still present in the monastery courtyard, a point of attraction for tourists, among other things.

The monastery is located at the foot of Mount Sinai and is the oldest Christian monastery in the world, built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian between 548 and 565. It has been continuously inhabited since then. For some time now, it has been a UNESCO protected monument and is an important pilgrimage and tourist site.

Practically, it was almost impossible to visit the interior. After lengthy negotiations between Ahmed, our guide, and the representatives of the holy place, and after some small attentions, we were allowed to see a few things: the bone room where the skulls of former monks are housed, the tree – the Burning Bush, and of course the monastery's shop 🙂.

Access to the inside of the church and the monastery museum, which houses the oldest and most beautiful collection of icons, some dating from the 5th century, and the oldest monastic library with many unique books, was not allowed to tourists. Maybe next time!

At least we could take shelter under the shade of the olive trees!

The return to the hotel in Sharm el Sheikh took almost 2 hours, with a short stop at a gas station to get some cold water.


Is climbing Mount Sinai worth it? If you ask me, I definitely say yes! It is hard, but very beautiful. Prepare yourself physically and mentally for the experience, try it and draw your own conclusion!

Thank you for reading, and if you have any further questions, don't hesitate to leave them in a comment at the end of the article.

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