“It’s a component of Egypt that’s ignored and we all know nothing about, to some extent,” Ms. El Samra said, motoring through the gravelly sand. “This is part of Egypt where you’re feeling very protected with the people. It’s very nice, it’s pristine, it’s undiscovered. It’s very different than most of what we do throughout Egypt. And I like constructing some muscles.”
Ms. El Samra was amongst a small but growing circle of Egyptian adventure travelers and endurance athletes who turned to mountaineering, running and competing in triathlons after the failed revolution and subsequent military takeover early last decade. Many saw the activities as a method to release frustrations and exert their independence, or just to find their country.
Mountaineering remains to be a distinct segment activity in Egypt. The Sinai Trail hosted a couple of hundred hikers before the pandemic, which forced the paths closed for many of 2020. Numbers dwindled to the handfuls in 2021 due to travel restrictions. But more hikers returned this 12 months, including 70 people from all over the world who arrived for a weekend hike in October tied to the United Nations annual climate conference, often called COP27, held the next month in Sharm el Sheikh. If all goes as planned, the Sinai Trail will host its first end-to-end hike of the 350-mile route next October.
Returning to traditions
For the Bedouins, the paths are a method to return to their roots and make a living within the mountains.
During a drought within the Nineteen Nineties, many Sinai Bedouins moved to coastal cities or farms within the Nile Valley for work, said Youssuf Barakat of the Alegat tribe, who spent two years with Mr. Hoffler mapping out the trail’s South Sinai routes and served as a guide in the course of the COP27-related hike in October. Modernity and the collapse of tourism early within the last decade also pulled Sinai Bedouins away. Mr. Barakat, 36, returned to the mountains to work on the trail after working as a cook in his family’s restaurant in Abu Zenima on the west coast, he said.
The Bedouins have been forced to vary, Mr. Barakat told us after a dinner of grilled sheep and vegetable soup, which was followed by Mr. Barakat singing a conventional love song while thwacking a tabla drum.
“We’ve web, we’ve phones,” he said. In a short time, he and his people have “turn out to be just like the Egyptians,” he said.
With the Sinai Trail, though, Mr. Barakat and his fellow tribespeople have a possibility to return to their time-honored lifestyle.