Hike new Egyptian desert trail led by Bedouins

Posted on 8 March 2019

The Red Sea Mountain Trail will be the first long-distance hiking trail in Egypt’s mainland. The 170-km trail is usually completed in 10 days and led by local Bedouins.

At this stage hikers aren’t yet allowed to do the trail on their own. Adventurers only cover about 15-20km a day, but there are some intense elevations in the mountains along the way. There is an alternative, easier route at every point on the Red Sea Mountain Trail and hikers can also do a mix of the main route and the easier one.

Hikers will have to carry their own food, water and sleeping gear, but will get to see the arresting beauty of the desert plains, deep gorges, rugged summits up high, crumbling Roman towns, and prehistoric rock art.

The trail is best accessed via the beach resort city of Hurghada (where there is an airport) to El Dahar. Egyptian visas can be purchased there for about R370 and there are buses, minibuses, taxis, and ferries to the trail. It can get uncomfortably hot along the way in every season, but the best times to go are during autumn (late September), winter (December) and Spring (February-March). The holy Islamic month of Ramadan is not a good time to hike, as Bedouins fast and stick to shorter trails.

The Wilderness route is a community tourism project managed by members of the Khushmaan clan, a local Maaza Bedouin tribe, headed by Sheikh Merayi, head of the Red Sea Mountain Trail Association (RSMTA).

Its older ‘sister trail’ is the Sinai Trail, which was the country’s first-ever long-distance hiking trail. It was 220km-long when completed in 2015, but was extended to 550km in 2018.

There are six hiking trail hubs in the region, which comprise an over 600-km hiking trail network – the largest in Egypt.

The organisation and community are keen on developing the adventure tourism prospects for the area that can support the local economy and create work opportunities for more women as well.

Through this, the community will also be preserving its endangered nomadic heritage and agrarian culture, and sharing this with younger members and the world.

The RSMTA believes that their route shows more of the ancient Arab culture and land than regular desert tours and camps, called mahattas.

All images by Red Sea Mountain Trail Association

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