DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 8: LEISURELY MORNING OR DRIVE TO ST. CATHERINE’S, HIKE UP MT. SINAI FOR SUNRISE, RETURN TO TABA, CROSS INTO ISRAEL, DEAD SEA
This was a day of a combination of adventure and rest! For those who traveled down to the southern end of the Sinai Desert, we hiked most of the night up and down the mountain. Others who stayed behind enjoyed a leisurely morning at the hotel. We all had a great experience! On top of Sinai, it was cool, with temps in the 40s, warming though with the rise of the sun.
Mt. Sinai / St. Catherine’s
We arrived early this morning at about 1:30 a.m. The climb started shortly after following security. Some rode camels 2/3rds up this 7,200 foot mountain called Jebel Musa, while others hiked up with flashlights in hand. The stars were brilliantly bright, with the Milky Way in full view! Many falling stars were seen. After a few rest stops in huts on the way, we made it to the camel station. From here, we ascended about 750 steps carved in the granite rock to the top. Beating the sunrise, we waited until the sun crested the horizon of the Saudi Arabian skyline! It was spectacular! Once the sun came up, we enjoyed the panoramic view in all directions!
The hike down was tough on the knees and we had to watch every step we took. We descended safely, enjoying the vistas along the way. Once to the bottom, we entered St. Catherine’s Monastery. It dates to the 4th century AD and is one of the three oldest churches in the world (along with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Nativity Church in Bethlehem). Today, this Greek Orthodox monastery is famous for the many ancient texts (codex) of Scripture, including the Codex Sinaiticos.
“I sort of felt like one of the Israelites today wandering in the Sinai Desert. The hike up Mt. Sinai and seeing the sunrise was breathtaking! What an incredible experience today was.” -Tour Member-
Sinai Drive/Taba Border Crossing
At 8 a.m., we began our 3 hour drive back to the Taba hotel. Now being able to see the interior of this desert, it was quite stunning! Many poor roads and check-points to go through as well! But we made it back about 11 a.m. She enjoyed swimming in the Red Sea and pool. At 12:30 drove to the border and crossed back into Israel without any issues.
Upon crossing, we loaded David’s bus and drove north about 2.5 hours to the Dead Sea. We stopped at Yovata once again for more ice cream before arriving at our hotel along the Dead Sea. Before dinner, many enjoyed floating in this unique body of water (33% salt and mineral). What a unique day in many ways!