From Cairo: Overnight Trip to Saint Catherine Monastery
- Private group
- Pickup available
- Skip the ticket line
In my group there was 15 people. I would say all of them Russians, two Polish and only me speaking English. The guide did his best to speak in both languages. Most of the people who take the tour are Russians. I was picked up on time, around 8:20pm and then we drove for 3 hours stopping at one place at Dahab city for a break. Once we got to Saint Catherine City we were taken to the Icons gallery where guide talked about the technique of making those icons. Also you could buy them. They accapted credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro). After that we went to the Monastery, security check but nobody checked out passports. We were given lamps but didn't really need it since the moonlight. The hike wasn't THAT hard except those 750 steps at the end. Many stops along the way (take cash), beduins selling hot drinks. On top we waited for sunrise around 1:30h. The sunrise was amazing but very windy with more then 1000 people on top. People were freezing. We spent 30 min in the monastery.
We had a wonderful experience with this company from the start. They communicated promptly with us and kept us informed. Unfortunately we couldn't visit St Catherine because they closed it last minute. They offered to cancel and refund but we still decided to go. Our guide Mohammed was amazing throughout the walk and especially very helpful during the difficult climb up the 750 steps. He kept us on track for getting back down in time for the early ride back to catch the flight back to Cairo after Nile Air unfortunately changed it. I'm in awe of how he goes up and down all day and night - a wonderful person to meet and know. I want to thank him and wish him and his family a blessed life. I'm so happy to have made it to the top of such an iconic place for all the 3 major religions. I prayed for peace and compassion in the world for all the innocent people suffering due to injustices caused by religion differences, political power, and unnecessary conflicts.
The booking was prompt and easy, and I even got a discount on the site. I received confirmation from the website as well as the local tour operator immediately, inquiring about the pickup schedule The local tour operator, OceanAir, was very accommodating and was willing to pick me up at the airport (as I was flying in from Cairo and arrived at 8:45 pm) instead of a local hotel, at a nominal amount of fees. I got lucky to be the only person in the tour, and the 6(7)-seater sedan was brand new (like a thousand km only). The rest of the tour was just top notch. Mahmoud was very informative, attentive, educational and knowledgeable. Just a very very professional and experienced tour guide. My local guide to hike the mountain was great, too. Acting part-time like my personal photographer along the way. :-)
Enjoyed the hike. Although it was a difficult one, especially the 750 steps towards the end of the hike, our guide, Khaled (may not be correct spelling) was superb. He ensured the group walked together, stopped for rest when needed, helped me up the stairs as I was scared of heights and all I could see what black space on some areas of the steps, and made sure that I could manage myself on my climb down as well. You are lucky if you get Khaled as your guide!
It is a must-do experience, in fact, it is more trekking than hiking, I recommend you to take your full trekking gear and a sleeping bag lest the cold freezes over you when you reach the top. Mr. Walid explained many things about the place's history, I could learn a lot from him. Also, the guide who hiked with us up the top was awesome and we could have a pleasant talk along the way. We haven't visited the Monastery as it was closed due to a festive day.