Climbing Mount Sinai For Sunrise

Sunrise from the top of mount Sinai

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Are you a spiritual seeker, a religious believer, a nature lover, or a hiking enthusiast? In any case, you should consider climbing Mount Sinai in Egypt. Hiking Mt Sinai is one of the absolutely best things to do in Egypt. Why? Believe me, ecstasy awaits you.


Find out why Mount Sinai in Egypt is called Moses’ Mountain, where the Burning Bush is, where the oldest manuscript of the Bible was found, how I hiked Mount Sinai for sunrise and more.

Sunrise from the top of mount Sinai


Money isn’t everything. Experiences are better than money.

And one of the most memorable experiences of my life was hiking Mount Sinai in Egypt.


Mount Sinai is an impressive ancient mountain of Biblical significance in the Sinai peninsula in Egypt.

Sinai Mountain in Egypt is traditionally known as Moses Mountain since the mountain is believed to be the Biblical mountain where God spoke to Moses, the mountain that Moses climbed, and where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

The Arabic name of Mount Sinai is Gebel Musa or Jabal Musa what literally means Mount of Moses. For centuries Mt Sinai in Egypt, also known as Horeb Mountain, has been an important religious pilgrimage site of followers of all Abrahamic faiths. Moses, the Holy Bush, and the Ten Commandments are of huge religious and spiritual importance to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Mount Sinai in Egypt is a holy place of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam since it is believed to be the ancient holy Mount Sinai and ‘the Mountain of the Ten Commandments’.

Climbing Mount Sinai in Egypt
Egypt Mount Sinai

But, nevertheless, Mt Sinai is a dramatic granite mountain with cruel but jaw-dropping views.

Even more, today Mt Sinai is a famous tourist hiking site in Egypt. Mount Sinai hike is a part of the world-famous Sinai Trail that has been voted as one of the best treks in the World.

Egypt Mount Sinai is one of the oldest mountains in the World. Some parts of the Sinai mountain are about 600 million years old. Furthermore, the Mount Sinai area is one of the richest ecosystems in the Middle East. Mountain Sinai is home to many endemic, rare, and protected plant and animal species, such as Egyptian jackals, Nubian ibexes, hyraxes, foxes, and wolves to name a few. In Mt Sinai, you can find the smallest butterfly in the World, called the Sinai Baton Blue.

When you see Moses mountain, it becomes obvious why Mount Sinai is a part of an Egyptian National Park – the St. Catherine Natural Protectorate.


But, let’s go back to Moses and Mount Sinai’s story. Moses and Mount Sinai are inseparable. After all, the mountain is named after Moses.

Tradition places Moses’ life in the late 14 century BC. But, the story of Moses and Mt Sinai originates from the Book of Exodus written around the 6th century BC. According to the Book, God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai from a burning bush and told him to take Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. After that event, Moses went back from Sinai to Egypt to convince the pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery. For the next 40 years, Moses led Israelites out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, the Sinai desert, and Sinai mountain to the Promised Land.

Today’s visitors of St Catherine’s monastery in Sinai can see what’s believed to be a descendant of the Burning Bush. The summit of the very same mountain is believed to be the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. A Christian church and a Muslim mosque sit at the top of Moses Mount Sinai with respect to that Biblical event.

Climbing Mount Sinai in Egypt

While the legend of Moses has been living for the past 3.500 years, the narrative of the Book of Exodus has been keeping a written track of the legend for the past 2.700 years. Over the centuries Moses has been accepted as a figure of a leader, prophet, and God’s messenger, while the Ten Commandments have become fundamentals of social morality and ethics of the Western civilization.

Mount Sinai sunrise hike 6 monastery visit from Sharm-El Sheikh

Where is Mt Sinai?

Mt Sinai is located in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Mount Sinai is a peak of the south-central Sinai peninsula in Egypt overlooking the Read Sea and neighboring Jordan and Israel. 

Where did Moses receive the 10 commandments?

Mount Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt is believed to be the Biblical mountain where God spoke to Moses and where Moses received the Ten Commandments.


Climbing Mount Sinai in Egypt

The St Catherine monastery is a 1500-year-old Christian Greek Orthodox monastery in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

The official name of the St Catherine Sinai monastery is ‘Sacred and Imperial Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai’.  The monastery was built on the site where what’s believed to be Moses’ Burning Bush was found.

The Burning Bush in Sinai

In the 4th century AD Empress Helena, the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine who legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire, attended a pilgrimage to the site. After the pilgrimage, she protected the bush by building a small chapel on the site.

Later in the early 6th century AD, Roman Emperor Justinian built a huge basilica with a monastery to protect the chapel. Additionally, he built high walls to protect the basilica, chapel, and bush.

Climbing Mount Sinai in Egypt

In the 6th century AD during his life, Prophet Muhammad made several pilgrimages to Mt Sinai. In his letter to the monks of St Catherine monastery in Sinai, he granted a Charter of Privileges – protection of the site, monks, and Christians in the area from religious persecution.

In the 11th century, a mosque was built next to the church in the monastery complex. In fact, the mosque was made out of the original monastery refectory. The mosques’ minaret stands just opposite the monastery bell.

Bedouin in Mount Sinai 1 1
A Jebeliya bedouin in front of St Catherine monastery in Sinai in Egypt

Indigenous Bedouins of Mt Sinai called the Jebeliya Bedouins, which literally means ‘Mountain Bedouins’, have been guarding the monastery for centuries.

Although the early chapel was named after Empress Helena, later the monastery was renamed after St Catherine of Alexandria who was a Christian martyr and whose body, according to a legend, was mysteriously found on a summit next to Mt Sinai.

The 8.668 ft (2.629 m) St Catherine summit in the Sinai peninsula is the highest peak in Egypt. St. Catherine’s church and monastery are located on the foot of Mount Sinai.

St Catherine Monastery in Sinai is one of the famous Egypt landmarks

The Sinai St Catherine’s monastery is the oldest continuously active Christian monastery in the World. The Codex Sinaiticus or Sinai Bible – the earliest manuscript of the Bible, written in Greek and dating back to the 4th century was found in the monastery. Today the British Museum holds the Codex Sinaiticus. The Library of the Sinai monastery, which is today a museum, holds an impressive collection of holy manuscripts and iconography – over 3.000 manuscripts, over 5.000 early printed books, over 2.000 icons from the 6th to the 18th century. Only the Vatican library in Rome has a larger collection of holy books than the library of Saint Catherine Monastery.

2002 UNESCO listed St Catherine’s Monastery Sinai as a World Heritage Site, documenting that all St Catherine area is a sacred place to three World’s religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

  • Opening hours of St Catherine Monastery: 10 am – 12 pm (noon); Fri, Sun closed; Greek Orthodox holidays closed
  • Entrance to Mount Sinai Monastery: free
  • Entrance to Museum of Saint Catherine Mount Sinai monastery: 20 EGP


Popular Mount Sinai hikes go from St Catherine’s monastery, which stands at the foot of Mt Sinai up to Mount Sinai peak.

How tall is Mount Sinai?

Mt Sinai is 2,285-metre (7,497 ft) tall. And the Mt Sinai hikes go from St Catherine monastery which is at 5.249 ft (1.600 m) above sea level to Mount Sinai summit which is at 7497 ft (2.285 m).

There are two ways to reach the summit: the Camel Path and Steps of Repentance. The Camel Path joins the Repentance Path at a place called Elijah Hollow or the Seven Elders of Israel. From there final 750 steps lead to the summit.

Climbing Mount Sinai in Egypt

The Camel Path is a 4.3 mi (7 km) long snake-like path.
Trekking the Camel Path up to the top takes about 2 and a half hours (up to 3 hours) on average. Local Bedouins offer camel rides for 250 EGP (15 USD) along the path.
If you want, you take a camel ride up the mountain and almost to the peak of Mount Sinai. I am saying ‘almost’, as the camels can go to Elijah Hollow and from there, there are still 750 steps to climb to the top. There are rest stops along the Camel Path where local bedouins sell water, hot drinks (tea, coffee, chocolate), snacks, and even blankets that are welcomed during cold night climbs.

If you want to hike the Repentance Path, you need to take 3.750 steps to the top which takes 2 hours on average. Although the steps are faster, they are uneven, much steeper, seeking constant awareness and as such, they are more difficult to climb than the Camel way. 
The Repentance Steps date back to the 6th – the 7th century AD when a monk carved them out of the mountain.


I have started the Mount Sinai trip from Dahab, a small town on the coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. I wanted to see a sunrise over the Dead Sea from the top of Mt Sinai and I took a bus tour from Dahab.

The minibus left the town at 11 pm and reached St Catherine monastery 2 hours later. Around 1 am on a dark and cold night in late November my companions from the minibus and I started climbing Mt Sinai along the Camel Path with a local Jebeliya Bedouin guide. The Jebeliya Bedouins live, control, and protect Biblical Mount Sinai. Moses’ mountain is their home.

Bedouin guide on Mount Sinai in Egypt

The night hike was nothing less than beautiful. Although the night was cold, walking up the mountain warmed us quickly. Our Mt Sinai night trek was blessed with the light of the full moon. From time to time the mountain hid the moon, but the stars illuminated our way. The sky was full of stars in a way that it can be seen only in areas of unspoiled nature with no light pollution.  On our way up we took breaks a few times, refreshed ourselves taking some warm tea or coffee at the Bedouins’ rest places. But as soon as we stopped, we felt the coldness and we started shaking in our shirts and jackets which got wet during the hike. Therefore, our breaks never lasted more than a few minutes.

We reached the top around 4 am. Luckily there was a Bedouin’s rest place just before the final 100 steps where we took a warm shelter.  Refreshed and alert we went up to the top of Moses Mountain a few minutes just before the sunrise.

Sunrise from the top of mount Sinai

The sunrise started around 6 am and we were standing on the top of Mount Sinai. We were on the site where once Moses received the Ten Commandments when the big orange ball started coming out of the Red Sea.

The scene seemed like the birth of the Universe. Timeless. Infinite. Eternal.

Sunrise from the top of the Moses Mount in Sinai
Me at Mt Sinai peak in sunrise

At 7 am we started going down to the monastery taking another route – the Repentance Steps. Taking 3.750 steps down was a faster way, but knee-busting. It took us an hour and a half to get back to the monastery. The scenery all the way down was utterly fascinating. Harsh and dry but bewitching.

The Steps of Repentance in Sinai

We passed by Elijah basin on our way down.

The Elijah basin is a plateau named after another prophet – Elijah. According to the legend, the prophet Elijah was hiding there in a cave in Mount Sinai for 40 days running away from Jezebel’s revenge after defeating the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.

Eljah basin in the Mount Sinai in Egypt
Elijah Basin in Mount Sinai Egypt
Prophet Elijah basin in Mount Sinai

St Catherine area

After a short stop at the Elijah basin, we continued our Sinai Mountain trip trekking to the St Catherine monastery. The monastery opened at 9 am.

At 9 am we entered the monastery following Moses’ footsteps and standing again on another site where Biblical Moses once stood.

Stones of Mount Sinai
Stones of Mount Sinai are believed to naturally contain the picture of the Burning Bush 


  • decide should you hike Mount Sinai for sunset or sunrise – The Mt Sinai hiking tours go at sunset and sunrise. The sunset from the mountaintop can be spectacular, but you will need to get down the mountain at night what might not be easy. Hiking Mount Sinai down in dark is much more dangerous with a higher possibility to fall down than in the daylight. Keep in your mind that going down by 3.750 uneven Steps of Repentance on the Mount Sinai trek is not an easy task at all!
  • check the weather forecast for Sinaitemperatures on the foot and the top of the mount usually vary between 5 – 10ºC
  • wear good hiking shoes, or good sneakers at least –  be aware of the rocky terrain. Mount Sinai climb requires good hiking shoes.

RELATED: 15 Best Hiking Boots for Women

  • dress in layers – during your Mount Sinai hike you will be sweating a lot, but also getting cold a lot
  • take a warm jacket – you will need it at the top for sure. The wind at the top can be fairly strong!
  • take hiking sticks – if you are fit, hiking sticks are not necessary, but will make your Mount Sinai trek much easier.
  • take your water bottle and pack some light snacks – do not overpack your bag. You can always buy more from the Bedouins at the rest stops along the Mount Sinai hike.
  • don’t forget to take your passport with you – on your way to St Catherine you will need to go through several police checkpoints. The police will ask for your identification documents.


Mount Sinai can be easily reached from Nuweiba, Dahab, Sharm El-Sheikh, and Cairo. Popular bus tours go from Dahab, Sharm-El Sheikh, and Cairo to Mount Sinai.

Sunrise at Mount Siani tours:
Viator: Sunrise at Mount Sinai and St. Catherine monastery. Trip from Sharm el Sheikh
GetYourGuide: St. Catherine’s Monastery Sunrise Trip from Sharm-El Sheikh

Talking about distances, St Catherine Monastery in the Sinai peninsula is about 274 miles (440 km) away from Cairo, 143 miles (230 km) away from Sharm El-Sheikh, 83 miles (133 km) away from Dahab, and 68 miles (110 km) away from Nuweiba.

A bus ride from Cairo to Mt Sinai takes 9 hours on average. A bus ride from Sharm El-Sheik to Mt Sinai takes 3 hours, and from Dahab to St Catherine monastery 2 hours.

Mount Sinai Egypt tours drive to the St Catherine monastery at the foot of Mt Sinai where all hikes to Mt Sinai start.


The best seasons to climb Mount Sinai are spring and autumn.

Summer in Mount Sinai can be too hot. Daily temperatures in summer rise often above 40ºC (1o4ºF).

Winter in the Sinai can be too cold. Winter night temperatures often go around -10 ºC (14ºF) with the snow on the top. From December to March, temperatures in Mt Sinai go below zero, and usually, the snow is on the top.

The best months to climb Mt Sinai are April, May, September, October, and November. From September to November nights are not too cold and are more favorable for climbing Mount Sinai in Egypt.



  1. I have known Mount Sinai through the bible and reenactments from movies but with your blog post, it helped me understood of how it looked like! I first have doubts if it is really the place about Moses’ participation in the bible history but there’s something that says yes to me while I look at your photos. Amazing.

  2. I’m not religious but if I ever see a sunrise like that and in such a reputed holy place, I might just believe in the holy trinity. It looks like such a beautiful place and your photography really did bring it justice. Great info on when to visit too – it would suck to be there when you can’t even enjoy the view. I wish to visit someday.

  3. The Monastery here look amazing. It’s hard to believe that they have been there for so long. The 6am sunrise and surrounding natural beauty is well worth the early morning wake up call.

  4. Mountains with history. Now that is a reeling combination of nature and heritage and one that would like. Very useful tips on planning the climb, especially the suggestion about the sunset and the time taken after that to climb down. Definitely don’t fancy the night.

  5. Beautiful post, your photos are stunning and I was literally talking to my husband today about getting to Egypt. Every piece of this trip is steeped in spiritual history. I would do all of it – the monastery, the climb up Mount Sinai … everything. Thanks for all the tips. Bookmarked for the future trip.

  6. I don’t officially have hiking Mt Sinai on my bucket list but as a catholic this would definitely be a highlight for exploration in Egypt for us! I would love exploring the St. Catherine Monastery and then hiking up the mountain of Moses for sure!
    I wish the Sinai Bible was still there because that would be epic to witness in person as well

  7. What a magical journey. I don’t imagine that I’ll ever be able to do this but how wonderful to see those valleys, monasteries and that spectacular sunrise. Thanks so much for sharing

  8. The terrain for the hike looks a little tough so I wonder what it must be like to hike Mt Sinai at night! Having said that, it must be gorgeous in the moonlight I am sure. And to catch that beautiful sunrise must be nothing less than magical! I haven’t been to Egypt yet and I had never thought that I’d hike Mt Sinai if I were to go but it seems like an intriguing and unique experience!

  9. Wow! What an awesome range of wildlife that lives on Mount Sinai – I’d love to see the Sinai Baton Blue! 😍 A hike up the mountain also sounds fantastic, espically the night hike ✨ Your photos are all amazing!!

  10. Hiking mount Sinai would be an incredible experience. The view is absolutely stunning, Egypt is on our bucket list-so when we go we will make sure to do this together! xo – Kam

  11. Wonderful account! Thank you!
    How fit do you need to be to climb? Is there the option of the camel hire in the nightime along the Camel Path?

    1. Thank you, Suzanne!

      I was suprised to see many older people doing their pilgrimage and climbing Mount Sinai during the night. Many of them used hiking sticks, but some of them used the help and hands of their guides who were walking side by side along the path.
      Pilgrim’s spirit overcomes every obstacle, I believe.

      I would say an average level of fitness is needed.

      And yes, I saw people on the camels during the night along the Camel Path. It’s possible to hire a camel.

      Thank you for reading my blog and many happy trails!


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