The Sinai – Nuweiba, Egypt

A Desert Wilderness of Mystical Places and Camel Races

Those who head to the mountain-lined coast of the Red Sea for diving and snorkeling holidays should consider an unprogrammed off-road segue into the Sinai’s desert wilderness with a Bedouin guide. On the Gulf of Aqaba, Nuweiba is the best jumping-off point for treks by foot, jeep, or camel.

It’s near the ancient Byzantine monastery of Santa Katerina, located on the slopes of Mount Sinai, from whose summit God is said to have delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses, and Colored Canyon, where the rock strata contain an outstanding spectrum of colors that change with the light.

Members of some of the fourteen indigenous tribes of nomadic Bedouins have chosen to take up the opportunities offered by tourism, most commonly as guides for overnight (and longer) trips to oases and nomadic camps.

There you can experience life as the Bedouins have known it since biblical times. Book your trip to Nuweiba for mid-January, in time for the annual camel races at Wadi Zalaga, when tribes converge from across the southern Sinai.

Anywhere from 60 to 100 camels race 12.6 miles, while honking jeeps and fellow drome­daries race alongside to cheer on their favorite mounts. The barbecue and party the night before rivals the post-race celebration.

Nuweiba, long a popular ferry departure point for Muslim pil­grims en route to Mecca, is now aiming at more of a resort and diving village atmosphere. The nicest top-end hotel option is the beachfront Hilton Coral Resort, which can arrange any of your Bedouin fantasies.

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