Taking the Long Way travel blog

St Katherine's Monastery

The little boxes are covering holes where they used to haul people...

The original burning bush, allegedly

In the monastery


My hut at Sawa Camp

The view from my hut


The beach on the Red Sea


If you look closely you can see Saudi Arabia

We walked back 2km to the foot of Mt Sinai in the morning and stopped at the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Katherine, built around the burning bush that spoke to Moses. The monastery was built over 1,400 years ago by the Roman Emperor Justinian to protect the monks and hermits residing in the area. A site of Christian pilgrimage since the 4th century, it is the oldest Christian monastery in continuous existence. The monastery is named for the martyr Saint Katherine, who lived in the 3rd century AD, and whose relics were found at the summit of Mt Katherine.

From there it was another 2 hours in the bus across a harsh and barren land of sprawling windswept plains and rugged mountains to the coastal town of Nuweiba to spend the night in the tiny settlement of Sawa Camp, in simple beach huts with turquoise water right at the front door. The huts were made from local palm trees with a mattress on the floor, a mosquito net and that‘s it. The toilets and showers were in a communal block that was remarkably clean. Sawa Camp is a hidden gem and set on one of the only stretches of fine golden sand along the coast, a perfect place for relaxing. It was amazing to sit on the beach, drinking a beer and looking out across the Red Sea to see the hills of Saudi Arabia clearly visible only 13km away on the other side. I was able to have a hut all to myself which was a godsend as I am not finding Sarah to be the great roomie I was hoping for. I think Monica just set the bar too high…

The Red Sea coast is justifiably famous for its beautiful scenery both above and below the water so I had thought to start the following day with a fantastic snorkelling trip or a scuba dive on near-by reefs but was woken up to the shrieks of swimmers running out in a panic after two sharks were sighted. So I just contained myself to paddling in the shallows instead, seeing as two people have been killed by sharks there recently.

The morning was consumed with reading, swimming (close to shore!) and relaxing before heading into the port of Nuweiba to catch the ferry from Egypt into Jordan. The ferry is apparently notorious for being late and today was no exception; it was 6 hours late. The trip across the Gulf of Aqaba was calm and surprisingly comfortable and I arrived in the Jordan’s only seaport, the coastal town of Aqaba, about 10pm. Just in time for a falafel sandwich and a beer before bed.

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