The Sinai Trail was developed to showcase Egypt’s beautiful, iconic wilderness and to develop a sustainable tourism economy in which people from the most remote, marginalised communities could find jobs and opportunities that pay fair wages. It is about creating work in one of the hardest times the Sinai has seen in decades – with the collapse of its tourism industry in recent times – but not just any kind of work. Specifically, a kind of work through which traditional Bedouin skills, knowledge and livelihoods can be preserved for the future. As more Bedouin communities begin to settle in the towns their ancient knowledge of the ways, water sources, plants, animals, and environment is becoming irrelevant to their lives and as such forgotten. The Sinai Trail helps keep this relevant; it gives the Bedouin a reason to need it. Today, young Bedouin learn from older Bedouin; knowledge is being passed down in the way it always was and kept alive in a real, living, breathing way. The Sinai Trail opened in December 2015 following a year of development, led by local Bedouin of three tribes: this early development of the Sinai Trail aimed to chart a viable hiking route across the Sinai for modern times, and to develop the maps, trail guides, and other resources hikers would need to walk the trail safely and responsibly. Within its opening year the Sinai Trail was named the best new tourism project in the world at the BGTW Tourism Awards in London. Later, it was ranked one of the world’s best new trails, by Wanderlust magazine. Following two further years of development, the trail was extended to a 550km route, taking 42 days to complete, on which all of South Sinai’s eight tribes could work together, in 2018. Today, all eight tribes of this region work together, in a single Bedouin cooperative. The Sinai Trail belongs 100% to the Bedouin community of the Sinai; and it is managed 100% by the Bedouin community.
Our work aims to grow the trail and the work it provides for as many communities as possible. As well as creating work for guides and cameleers and cooks, people who work in other professions are slowly beginning to benefit from the trail. The Sinai Trail was built with a huge amount of community support over the last years: many people, from photographers, to writers, to first aid instructors volunteered their expertise to the trail and helped to position it where it is today. If you’d like to volunteer your expertise or help fund our ongoing work, please contact us.
What has the Sinai Trail achieved so far?
- Egypt has finally got its very own long distance hiking trail! Jordan has one, Palestine has one, and Lebanon too; now Egypt can stand with them, offering an exciting new hiking route to visitors.
- The Sinai Trail began as a 220km route, taking 12 days to complete and involving three Bedouin tribes. Today, it is a 550km route, taking 42 days and involving all eight tribes of South Sinai.
- Maps and other trail resources have been produced in English and Arabic, helping hikers plan a trip. These are making the trail and hiking in general more accessible and are encouraging safe, responsible practice.
- The Sinai Trail is working. Hundreds of hikers have hiked parts of the trail so far, Egyptian and foreign. Over 50 guides, cameleers, cooks, drivers and camp owners are all working in the local community.
- It is helping to preserve Bedouin culture. The Sinai Trail maps in particular have recorded many previously undocumented place names, many known only to Bedouin elders.
What is the Sinai Trail doing in the year ahead?
- More trail development! Special ‘hiking hubs’ with new trails will be developed; one in each of the three main tribal territories on the main route, ensuring benefits are spread to more communities.
- Guide training: a professional training programme will be run for Bedouin guides. 20 young guides will be trained to work on the trail, learning skills to keep the Sinai’s guiding tradition alive.
- Growing the Sinai Trail. As well as hikers, events will be organised for bikers, climbers and other user groups to widen the Sinai Trail’s appeal and build a strong, resilient economy around it.
- Outdoor education: educational events will be run by expert volunteers, aimed at growing Egypt’s hiking community and establishing good, responsible and safe hiking practice in the Sinai.
- Cultural heritage. A small team will walk the Sinai Trail, documenting its Bedouin heritage: they will collect place names, stories, poems and more, for a series of cultral trail guides to the route.