Mount Sinai (Mount Moses) is known as the biblical Mount Horeb, where Moses spent 40 days and received the tablets with God’s commandments. It is also believed to be the site that God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. Some archaeologists and historians dispute this claim and place Mount Horeb in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The disputes do not deter visitors all over the world from climbing the mountain to watch the sunrise. The sunrise is absolutely spectacular and gorgeous! The view is incredible.
The Sinai Peninsula is the gateway between Africa and Asia. The trip to St. Catherine included crossing the Suez Canal into Asia. We stayed at the St. Catherine Plaza.
The interior of southern Sinai, location of Mount Sinai and St. Catherine’s Monastery, is extremely rocky terrain. Further north is the Wilderness of the Wanderings which is the home to many different plants and wildlife; over 60% of Egypt’s plant life thrives in the Sinai area and thirty-three species are unique to Sinai. The mammals in the area include the hyena, ibex and hyrax.
Our group started the trek at 2:00am on December 12, 2009 to reach the top before the sunrise. There are two ways up the 7,500 foot mountain. The 3,750 Steps of Repentance is the most direct route but the most difficult. Another route is the Gate of Confession, where a monk once heard pilgrims’ confessions. A camel ride up the mountain is the least physical. The camel path ends prior to the last 750 steps at Elijah’s Basin. The basin has a 500-year-old cypress tree which marks the spot where the Bible recounts that God spoke to Elijah as he hid from Jezebel. The majority of our group took the Steps of Repentance route. The hike takes about 3 hours in total to get to the top of the mountain. There are several rest stops along the way. Approximately 4,000 people climbed the mountain the day we did. It is extremely cold in the early morning while hiking so it is advisable to wear warm clothing and good hiking boots. The last hour of the hike is all rock steps.
Reaching the top is amazing! The view is breathtaking; mountains surround you under the stars before the sun rises. When the sun rises, it is absolutely beautiful in the sky along with the mountain views. The climb and reaching the top to witness the sunrise is a tremendous experience. It is such a surreal experience standing in the spot Moses supposedly spoke to God watching the sunrise over the mountains. I highly recommend experiencing this!
Posted at 4:09 PM by Sarah Bonansinga