This month Egypt introduced its first long-distance hiking trail on the mainland: The Red Sea Mountain Trail. This trip of 105 miles (170km) will take you 10 days long over old trade routes and hunting trails. You will hike through savage landscapes of vast desert plains and climb over rough rocks with deep gorges. Far away from all major tourist flows you get to know the real local population and its traditional customs. As if your bucket list was not long enough already, right …?
The Red Sea Mountain Trail might be Egypt’s first long-distance hiking trail on the mainland, the real premiere was actually for the 341 mile (550 km) long Sinai Trail. The Sinai Trail was festively opened in 2015 and was really Egypt’s official first.
The Red Sea Mountain Trail is also called the sister trail of the Sinai Trail. Because apart from the fact that one route is on a peninsula and the other on the mainland, these two trails have a lot in common. In the past, both areas formed one whole. Until the Red Sea drove them relentlessly apart. And it seems that even in the future they will keep taking more distance from each other. Since Sinai is on a major fault line, it floats 0,2 to 0,8 inches (5mm to 2cm) away from Africa every year. As both areas were connected most part part of their lives, they not only share a similar geological history. Their historical and cultural backgrounds are also deeply rooted. It will not come as a surprise that the ultimate goal is to link both trails with each other in the future, to make the dismembered sisters hiking-wise one again.
Under the watchful eye of the tribes
The Red Sea Mountains are an area that is strictly controlled by Bedouin tribes. Each tribe has its own territory, which is closely watched by them. It is insisted that hikers take a member of a tribe as a guide on their trek. In other words, it is not allowed to hike The Red Sea Mountain Trail without a local guide.
Finding a tribe member to accompany you on your trip does not have to be difficult. Via the website of the Red Sea Mountain Trail you will be brought into contact with a guide that perfectly responds to your specific needs and wishes. A good guide will be an enrichment for your hiking adventure. Not only will he show you the way and guarantee a safe journey, he will also tell you the most mysterious legends of the landscape, the versatile history of the tribes and the magical healing power of the plants.
Not for the faint-hearted
“Glamping” may be extremely popular today, but none of that on the Red Sea Mountain Trail. Here it is really back to basics. You will not find any hotel or shop along the way, so you will have to carry all your supplies for the entire trail from the first to the last day. Fortunately, you can ask for help from camels or jeeps, making it sufficient just to carry a daypack.
Finding drinkable water is not straightforward. There is bottled water foreseen for hikers, but if you want to drink water from local wells or water sources, it is recommended to filter it first.
In addition to a filter system, just like visitors to Cinque Terre, you should not put any flip-flops in your backpack. The sharp granite rocks and the rough terrain of the Red Sea Mountains will be an attack on your delicate feet. Sturdy shoes with a good grip are absolutely necessary.
The power of nature
A nice walk in the sun, you might think. But do not be mistaken. On the Red Sea Mountain Trail you will be completely surrendered to the laws of nature. A sweltering sun, devastating mudflows, and blinding sandstorms can all be part of your adventure. A Dutch newspaper wrote last year that one of their journalists was evacuated to higher ground during his trip on the Sinai trail, by a sudden violent mudflow. All All the more reason why a local guide – who can quickly read unusual signs of nature – will not be a bad investment.
But is it safe out there?
If you turn on the news you might see another bomb being dropped somewhere in Egypt or its surroundings. We have to admit it. Egypt is not exactly known as the safest country to travel to. On the other hand, it is worth noting that in the region around the Red Sea Mountains no terrorist attacks have ever taken place, in which tourists were involved. The Bedouin tribes try to keep their region as safe as possible, and they have succeeded quite well so far. However, it is advisable to consult the general travel advice before planning your trip.
Apart from possible terrorist attacks, women might also feel less safe in this region. It is no secret that both domestic and foreign women could get harassed by the local population. Fortunately, it is completely different in the mountains. In addition, the guides who are eligible to accompany a trip are selected with the greatest care. They will guarantee your safety at all times.
Unique in its kind
The Red Sea Mountain Trail is, to say the least, unique in its kind. Name five other hiking trails in the world where you can walk for ten days in unspoilt nature, while a camel carries your luggage and a member of a Bedouin tribe will show you around. Are you someone who has a lot of sense for adventure, who is always looking for wonderfully authentic hiking experiences and who is also blessed with a good pair of proverbial balls? Then you can start brushing your camel. Because in that case The Red Sea Mountain Trail is really something for you!