“This is an element of Egypt that’s ignored and to some extent we all know nothing about it,” said Ms. El Samra as she drove through the gravel sand. “It’s a component of Egypt where you’re feeling very protected amongst people. It could be very pretty, immaculate, undiscovered. This could be very different from most of what we do throughout Egypt. And I prefer to construct muscle.”
Ms. El Samra was a part of a small but growing circle of Egyptian adventurers and endurance athletes who, after a failed revolution and subsequent military takeover, turned to climbing, running and competing in triathlons early within the last decade. Many saw these activities as a solution to vent their frustrations and show independence, or just to get to know their country.
Hiking continues to be a distinct segment activity in Egypt. The Sinai Trail hosted several hundred tourists before the pandemic forced the paths to shut for many of 2020. In 2021, that number has dropped to dozens as a consequence of travel restrictions. But more tourists returned this 12 months, including 70 people from all over the world who got here for a weekend trip in October linked to the annual UN climate conference, often called COP27, held the next month in Sharm el Sheikh. If all goes to plan, the Sinai Trail will host the primary comprehensive 350-kilometre hike in October next 12 months.
Back to tradition
For Bedouins, trails are a solution to return to their roots and stay within the mountains.
During the drought of the Nineteen Nineties, many Sinai Bedouins moved to coastal towns or farms within the Nile Valley seeking work, said Youssuf Barakat of the Alegat tribe, who spent two years with Mr Hoffler mapping routes of the South Sinai Trail and served as a guide through the October journey related to COP27. Modernity and the decline of tourism at the start of the last decade have also drawn Sinai Bedouins away. Barakat, 36, returned to the mountains to work on the trail after working as a cook at a family restaurant in Abu Zenima on the west coast, he said.
The Bedouins were forced to vary, Mr. Barakat told us after a dinner of grilled mutton and vegetable soup, after which Mr. Barakat sang a conventional love song while beating a tabla drum.
“We have web, we now have telephones,” he said. He said that in a short time he and his people “became just like the Egyptians.”
However, due to the Sinai Trail, Mr. Barakat and his tribesmen have the chance to return to a time-honored lifestyle.