Monastery Hike

Overseas

This is a very challenging two day walk in the mountains of the Eastern Desert in Egypt. It runs between the two monasteries of saints Anthony and Paul and is a very ancient path. This hike is difficult and dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced, confident hikers.

Lookouts
Scrambling or Climbing
Navigation Required
Arid or Desert

Getting there

How do you get to the start of the walk? The best way to get to and from the start and end points is by arranging a driver in Cairo who can drop off one day early morning and pick up next day at other monastery in afternoon.

Maps

Which maps cover the area? We were not able to find anything detailed enough to help, but I have attached an image of the route we followed. This was produced by a previous hiker, not me.

Route/Trail notes

This is an incredibly rewarding but also extremely challenging walk in the mountains of the Eastern desert in Egypt. While there is a trail that it is possible to follow, it is faint,and there are many branches etc that make it difficult to know if you are going the right way. As this is isolated desert, getting lost could mean death. It is essential to be well prepared and to carry ample water. I would only undertake between November and February otherwise there is a good chance it will be too hot.

You start at Saint Paul's monastery and hike up the mountains across a mountain valley up more mountains and then down the other side before reaching Saint Anthony's monastery. There are magnificent, stark mountain and desert views, a vent pumping steam out of the mountain, a huge crack in the mountain to explore and a lot of walking along an ancient trail.

The trail begins by following a a track out of the monastery and up a steep incline to a ridge. At this point, you could go straight ahead and down into a deep wadi that runs all the way across to East of Saint Anthony's monastery. This is also an OK walk, but not the way to go. Instead, you veer left and keep climbing. Eventually you should sight a large oil barrel. From here, it begins to be possible to discern the track across the mountain. Follow this and you descend into a wadi which you cross in a diagonal, heading to your right. In the distance you will see a slope with the faint sign of a trail running up it. Head for this. At its base is a cairn of rocks indicating it is the right way. Once we had climbed this, we made camp for the night. Continue following the faint trail until you reach a large rock cairn. You now walk along the sharp drop off on the edge of the mountains until you reach a large rock cairn pointing you in the right direction. Next you will reach a large arrow made of rocks indicating the location to descend down a dry waterfall. When you reach the sheer drop off you will need to take a deep breath and brace yourself for a scary walk along a very narrow path that runs along a very high sheer cliff face. It is was scary! you continue along this until the path opens up a bit and you can see a steep path descending the mountains. You take this and eventually it levels out a little and you continue descending along a ridgeline before eventually coming out in a wadi with amazingly tall sides of conglomerate formed when there was actually a river here. Follow this until you see the fence around the monastery. At some point you will be able to access the monastery land and walk on till you reach the entrance and hopefully, your awaiting taxi ride back to Cairo.

Permits/Costs

Do you need any permits? What's the cost?Nil, unless you decide to organise a bedouin guide. When we did this on our first attempt at the walk, we got ripped off and take down the wadi.

Other References

How can I find more info? Any guide books? We found very little detailed info on the walk.

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