When to visit
Every season has its own character and a unique set of draws and disadvantages. As much as the weather hikers should think about the timing of big religious festivals like Ramadan - which lasts for a full month - and Eid. Few Bedouin guides work during these times. Over the coming years Ramadan falling in spring and winter.
Autumn arrives in late September and is the switchover between the harsh months of summer and the colder times of winter. Temperatures become more comfortable for walking around early October. Clouds are common in autumn – throwing a broken light across the mountains – and rain becomes more likely. Sometimes rains produce spectacular - and sometimes hazardous - flash floods. Visibility is generally good – giving far reaching views over the Red Sea to Africa and Asia – and flocks of migratory birds fly high overhead, escaping the Eurasian winter for the wintering grounds of Africa. Autumn is also when the orchard trees of St Katherine turn beautiful yellows, crimsons and reds, shedding their leaves before winter.
Winter sets in over the Sinai around December. Every one of the Seven Summits towers high over 2000m, experiencing more extreme weather than the lowlands. Temperatures can be around 20 degrees celsius cooler on the highest mountain tops than on the coasts. Sub-zero conditions are common. Hikers often wake up with frozen water bottles on high summits. Blizzards and heavy snowfall can sweep through, giving the mountains of Egypt an almost Alpine feel. Snow can sit on high peaks for weeks, making climbs slippery and potentially hazardous. Low clouds and swirling mists can limit visibility too. Some hikers will enjoy the harsh, windswept and extreme, challenging feel of a winter in the Sinai, but many will simply find it uncomfortable. The coldest month of all is January.
Spring is one of the best times to hike, with mid March the optimum month. Known as rabeeya to the Bedouin, this is the most fabled season of the year and is eagerly awaited, especially after winter rains. Dry, dusty plants come to life, covering the desert in blossoms of pink, yellow and purple flowers. Mobile Bedouin families search out grazing and drive their herds between it in throughout the mountains. It is a pretty time and temperatures start to become more comfortable for walking. As in autumn, flocks of migratory birds fly overhead, returning to Eurasia for the summer. The only downside of spring is the seasonal khamasin wind, which can whip up enough sand and dust to turn the skies a deep yellow, limiting visibility and making it feel like one of the Ten Plagues of Egypt has arrived.
Summer is generally counted as the months of June, July, August and most of September. Temperatures are high and the Bedouin say they have become ever-higher in recent decades. Summers in the lowlands of the Sinai can be searingly hot. The high mountains are hot too - especially when hiking in the open sun - but they remain manageable. At the height of the summer, the hottest times of the day are typically spent resting in the shade of a rock or tree. When crossing easy terrain such as big open plains, some Bedouin even prefer to walk below the moon. Visibility is often hazy and poor in the summer but daylight hours are longer, which allow hikers to make up for long sit outs. If visiting in summer the St Katherine area - which has a higher and cooler elevation - is the best of all in which to hike.
Ramadan Eid el Adha
2020 April 24-May 23 July 31
2021 April 13-May 12 July 20
2022 April 3 - May 2 July 10
2023 March 23-April 21 June 29
2024 March 11-April 9 June 17
2025 March 1-March 30 June 7
2026 February 18-March 19 May 27
2027 February 8 - March 9 May 17
Ramadan is a Muslim holy month, involving fasting from water, food & other temptations from sunrise to sunset. It lasts a whole month & ends with three days of feasting in the festival of Eid el Fitr or the 'Little Eid'. The 'Big Eid' - Eid el Kibeer or Eid el Adha - arrives two months later and involves a feast of three or four days. Few guides work in these times. Dates for Ramadan & Eid can be forecast to within a few days of accuracy and prospective dates until 2027 are listed above. Nevertheless, exact dates are only confirmed closer to the times.