ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Of Bedouins and Bedrock: Life in the Sinai Desert, Egypt

Updated on October 26, 2011
Bedouin elder in prayer on Mediterranean beach
Bedouin elder in prayer on Mediterranean beach
Lodging at St. Catherine's Village near the base of Mt. Sinai blends in well with rocky, dry surroundings
Lodging at St. Catherine's Village near the base of Mt. Sinai blends in well with rocky, dry surroundings
Individual unit at St. Catherine's Village.
Individual unit at St. Catherine's Village.
The path leading up Mt. Sinai, looking back
The path leading up Mt. Sinai, looking back
Trail up Mt. Sinai. Camel traffic is common.
Trail up Mt. Sinai. Camel traffic is common.


If you want to see an ancient tribe of people and the incredibly difficult environment in which they live, go to the Sinai Desert in Egypt. As a biologist, I searched the terrain at the base of Mt.Sinai for any signs of plant or animal life. I saw a couple of species of birds, but I could barely find a plant of any kind amongst the rock and stone that lay as far as the eye could see. There is a tribe of people who live in this austere environment—the Bedouins. Young girls tended a small flock of goats as they scampered effortlessly over the boulder-strewn landscape looking for a plant on which to browse near where I was searching. They yelled at me in their high-pitched trill with face fully covered in a black burka. Yet again, the phrase about not being in Kansas anymore came to mind.

St. Catharine's Monastery

At the base of Mt.Sinai is one of the planet’s most incredible landmarks—St. Catharine’s Monastery (see video below). This is the world’s oldest continuously-occupied Christian monastery; it has been staffed by priests of the Greek Orthodox church since the 6th century. The monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enclosed within the grounds of the monastery is the “burning bush” of biblical fame. I stood in front of the bush with one of England's foremost botanists who explained to me that the bush was a shrub in the genus Rubus. That’s right, it is a raspberry bush. The gallery of art inside contains some of the oldest icons in existence (photos not allowed); they are well over 1,000 years old. The site is considered sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Mt. Sinai

The hike up Mt.Sinai is not that strenuous, or you can ride a camel up. We only had time to go half way, but the views of the Sinai Desert below were breathtaking. Of course, this is the mount on which Moses supposedly received the 10 commandments from God. Regardless of your religious beliefs, the antiquity that emanates from the entire area generates a sincere respect for the history represented.

All photos by DrTom. For great travel deals, see DrTom's Travel Shoppe.

We walked, but you could ride.
We walked, but you could ride.
Young girl at wadi in Sinai Desert
Young girl at wadi in Sinai Desert

Mt. Sinai and St. Catherine's Monastery


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      As I cannot travel to these places except vicariously I enjoy items like this, thank you for sharing! This is a good demonstration that even in extremes life persists.

    • Life at DrTom's profile imageAUTHOR

      Life at DrTom's 

      7 years ago from Ithaca, NY

      Great advice Tom. Sounds like you know a lot more about the area than I do. Fascinating part of the world.

    • profile image

      Tom Kenis 

      7 years ago

      I've lived in Cairo, and the occupied Palestinian territories for a combined 5 years. Every long weekend, or any other chance me and a bunch of friends had, we'd go East or South respectively and camp out in the Sinai. I've hiked up the mountain a few times, and spent the night to await the most magnificent sunrise you've ever seen.

      Absolutely wonderful!

      For those going to the Sinai, there's some wonderful snorkeling to be done in Sharm el-Sheikh, and up north, in Dahab and Tarabin too. Check out the smaller camps in between the towns for a quiet time away from internet, TV, tourist peddlers and whatnot. Choose carefully because the upkeep and management changes every year. Just walk along the beach and check for places that seem well-kept, or where there's a couple of people staying already (always a good indicator!)

      Prices are dirt-cheap, as long as you don't mind a reed hut, and don't require a socket to charge your iPhone and whatnot.

      Food-wise: if you order fish for dinner, and tell your host some time in advance, chances are he'll send someone to go catch it on the spot.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for showing these pictures, as I have always wanted to go there but have been scared to go.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Interesting hub, video and pictures. I have never traveled in that area but I think it would be most interesting.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)