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Visiting Egypt - Climbing Mt Sinai - Castle Zaman

When I was about 12, I remember seeing a tourism ad for Egypt on television and wondering why anybody would go there on a holiday. All I knew about the country could be summed up in a Disney movie about Moses. But the imagery never left me; I still remember the exact scene in the commercial that made me stop and let my mind toy with the idea of visiting. The camera swept over the ironically blue waters of the Red Sea, fireworks bursting on the horizon.

I never would have dreamt that within the decade, I'd have visited Egypt in what was to be my second trip to Africa and my third to the Middle East in two years. And it is every bit as beautiful as the tourism ads would have you believe. If you can't take a breathtaking photo of rural Egypt, you might as well not own a camera.

Watching the sunrise from the peak of Mt Sinai was perhaps the most beautiful thing I will ever see with my eyes. It's a sort of beauty so captivating it feels like it's been laced with supernatural glory. In a way, climbing Mt Sinai changes you. You can't experience something so intense without it burning its chapter into your life story. My soul picked up its feet again that morning, and it hasn't stopped running since.

Perhaps you can only understand it if you go. Do it. Get in a plane, get in a car, drive hours across Egyptian wilderness, slow down to see the world's largest oasis, sleep in the monastery built in 500AD, set your alarm for 4am, climb, climb, climb, reach your physical limit, and climb some more. And when the sun's fiery fingers first grip the horizon, you'll know that wherever your road leads, whatever lies around the corner, you can conquer it. You've never been further from home, and you just made one of the most significant mountains in history your bitch.

Mt Sinai summit

Mt Sinai summit

Local Bedouins play soccer at St Katherine, the village at the base of Mt Sinai, Egypt.

Local Bedouins play soccer at St Katherine, the village at the base of Mt Sinai, Egypt.

Tourists atop Mt Sinai witness the glory of the sunrise.

Tourists atop Mt Sinai witness the glory of the sunrise.

Village girls play in the town at the bottom of Mt Sinai.

Village girls play in the town at the bottom of Mt Sinai.

One of a family of camels that live on the mountain, carrying tourists up and down for a fee paid to local guides.

One of a family of camels that live on the mountain, carrying tourists up and down for a fee paid to local guides.

Trekkers descend Mt Sinai after hours and hours of hiking - or for the lazier amongst us, riding a camel.

Trekkers descend Mt Sinai after hours and hours of hiking - or for the lazier amongst us, riding a camel.

It was about this point that I realised I'll probably never see anything more beautiful in my life than sunrise over Mt Sinai.

It was about this point that I realised I'll probably never see anything more beautiful in my life than sunrise over Mt Sinai.

The PERFECT holiday is by the Red Sea.

The PERFECT holiday is by the Red Sea.

Castle Zaman is easily the most photogenic place I've ever been.

Castle Zaman is easily the most photogenic place I've ever been.

Castle Zaman

Castle Zaman

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