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Having taken my family to Egypt, my 13 year old was not always ready to make the morning bell for early tours. At one point, he informed me that he would just look at the pictures. In fact, there are probably a number of people who feel this way about visiting the ancient monuments of Egypt. Certainly one may not really appreciate the scale of the Great Pyramid from a picture, but perhaps that is enough for some.

Yet, if there is a place in Egypt that can never even remotely be appreciated in this manner, it is the mountains of the Sinai. Their majestic domination is truly inspiring. But the hard part, when it comes to pictures, is the color streaming through these bare rock ranges. For some novice travelers, these mountains will come as a surprise. Those who think of pine trees and mountain storms will find a landscape so odd that they may find themselves thinking of an alien planet. 
 Sinai Egyptian peninsula
 Sinai Egyptian peninsula
Granite peaks jut upwards, often with ridges of multicolored minerals crisscrossing their faces. I could not help but think of this as an unspoiled heaven for rock climbers. It seems a perfect itinerary for such adventurous souls. But I know that there are few who come for this reason. Most come as a supplement to a beach or diving holiday, or a short trip from a mainland classical tour. They seek nature treks, cultural exchanges with the Bedouins, or religious sight-seeing.

Indeed, what seems a barren landscape, upon closer examination, is not. There are the occasional trees, along with about 37 other endemic plants that grow at high altitudes. There are also a number of large, and small animals, which inhabit the area, including hyenas, foxes, gazelles and hyraxes. Riding along in an air-conditioned van, one is often startled to see a Bedouin woman walking along in what seems like an inhospitable wasteland.  

Sinai Egyptian peninsula

Sinai Egyptian peninsula
 Here, one finds the last of the traditional desert wanderers, with their customs mostly in tact.  Many treks into the Sinai are arranged including a lunch or dinner with a Bedouin family, which for many westerners end up being great fun, as well as educational. Finally, there are the religious monuments, which include some of the most famous sites in the world. Mount Sinai is here, though there is still speculation about which mountain exactly is Mount Sinai.
 Mount Moses, with ancient St. Catherine's Monastery located at its foot, is traditionally considered to be the peak that Moses climbed. In all, the Sinai is a fun place to visit in every respect. Party towns such as Sharm el-Sheikh provide endless opportunities for entertainment, while exotic beach front communities such as Nuweiba offer laid back beauty in a location that time seems to have forgotten, where camels swim in the sparkling clean waters of the Red Sea while children romp about their humps.