Practicalities

Getting to the Sinai

Sharm el Sheikh (SSH) is the Sinai's main international airport. Many European governments stopped direct flights to the Sinai after the bombing of a Russian airliner that departed Sharm in 2015, but some have now re-opened the route. Flight times are around 5 hours from Western Europe. If a direct flight is not available to the Sinai it can be approached via Istanbul. It is also possible to fly to Cairo and take a domestic flight to Sharm. Egypt Air run multiple flights daily, taking around 50 mins. Buses run from Cairo to Sharm, Dahab and Nuweiba multiple times daily and a daily bus also operates between Cairo and St Katherine. Overland, the Egypt-Israel border at Taba is the main crossing point. By sea, a daily ferry connects Aqaba in Jordan with Nuweiba in the Sinai.  

Visas & Red Tape

Travellers of most nationalities need a visa to enter Egypt. Visas cost USD25 and can be purchased at airports on arrival. They are sold at the foreign currency exchange windows, near passport control points. They are valid 30 days. After this, they must be extended at immigration offices in Sharm and El Tur. Visas can be extended for upto six months. Renewals usually take 48 hours. E-visas can be purchased before arrival too. When entering Egypt, passports should be valid a minimum of six months after the arrival date. Travellers arriving via Taba must beware of special 'Taba' visas: valid 14 days these limit travel to the Gulf of Aqaba towns and St Katherine. They do not permit travel anywhere else or to mainland Egypt. If crossing via Taba, arrange an e-visa before you arrive.

Safety & security

Egypt has seen plenty of unrest since 2011 and the Sinai has been worse affected than anywhere. Nevertheless, most of the bad news comes from North Sinai. And within North Sinai, from a small pocket of territory near the Gaza border. Virtually no unrest has spread to South Sinai: the interior, Bedouin-controlled regions have remained one of the safest parts of Egypt. There has never been a terrorist attack on tourists in the interior of South Sinai. Hikes have happened throughout the unrest in North Sinai.  Nevertheless, things can change. No guarantees can be given. Anybody visiting the Sinai must consult a wide range of sources, from government advice to newspapers and internet forums and be responsible for making their own decision on whether or not they feel safe to visit. 

Getting around

A combination of buses, minibuses and taxis can be used to get around. Buses run daily between big tourist towns like Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba. It is harder getting public transport to St Katherine. A bus from Nuweiba to St Katherine runs a few times weekly. It does not enter St Katherine, but drops passengers at a checkpoint 10km outside town. Getting an onward taxi to St Katherine is easy. It is possible to get a bus from Sharm to South Sinai's capital El Tur. A daily minibus runs from El Tur to St Katherine. Private taxis go between all these places. Jeeps and pick ups can travel desert routes to the mountains. Always carry ID/ passports on the roads in the Sinai, as checkpoints are frequent.  

Accommodation

Accommodation is easy to find at all budgets. In tourist towns on the coast, everything from five star, international brand hotels to simple beach camps with bamboo huts is available. In St Katherine, there are upmarket hotels, ecolodges and even the Monastery of St Katherine's guesthouse. Bedouin camps are common in St Katherine and it is even possible to stay in traditional orchards a few kilometres outside town. Bedouin camps are the best option for hikers. They give a feel for the Sinai's Bedouin culture and are typically the best places to fix hikes. When completing the Seven Summits, there is no accommodation on-trail: only empty huts, caves and the open desert, under the stars.

Women travellers

Women travellers face extra pressures in Egypt, as in many parts of the Middle East. Sexual harassment is common and comes in many different forms, from comments to catcalls, prolonged staring and physical contact. Generally, it's best to dress conservatively, covering arms to the wrists and legs to the ankles. Some women say a headscarf lessens harassment, but others report the same problems whatever their outfit. Many say harassment is also less in Bedouin areas - typically more conservative - although it is not unheard of. Always choose guides carefully before embarking on a hike. Every Bedouin guide who is recommended by the Seven Summits team will be highly professional and trusted in their work.