Along this route you will be crossing four different tribal areas. It is Bedouin law to employ camels and Bedouin from the tribal area you are walking in. As you pass through each area you’ll change the camels and their owners to those of the local tribe. There are slight differences between the various south Sinai tribes and you’ll get the chance to meet a wide variety of people.
Both men and women should wear loose fitting clothing that covers their knees and shoulders (and cleavage for women). Our guides are very experienced with varying cultures and quite relaxed about dress code but we must respect local customs when we meet local Bedouin. A handy sarong or a big scarf will help women to cover up shoulders etc. quickly when encountering people during the trek. On reaching Dahab, it is a very different picture and you’ll see a lot of skin on show.
In Bedouin culture, showing respect is very important. If someone approaches the group for the first time, everyone should stand for introductions. It is unlikely that they will shake hands with any ladies in the group. When sitting, it is important not to point the soles of your feet at anyone. When passing food, drinks or when eating, don’t use your left hand (traditionally your ‘toilet hand’), only your right. Further information will be given in the arrival brief and if you have any questions the expedition leader and local guides would be delighted to share their experiences with you.
This expedition will cover all the faces that the southern Sinai desert has to offer.
- Tight sandstone slot canyons.
- Sand dunes.
- Gravel plains and wide, seemingly endless wadis.
- Deep granite canyons.
- Rounded granite domed peaks.
- High mountain tops.
- Oases giving surprising bursts of green and colour.
- Steep scrambles up high jagged peaks.
The weather during the day will be very hot and dry. The wind will pick up during the periods of sunrise and sun set. The nights will be relatively cool compared to the days. Daytime temperatures will be between 30⁰C and 40⁰C with temperatures dropping by 10⁰C degrees as we walk into the highlands. There may be rain, but we will be lucky to see any, as after all we will be in a desert.
The areas we travel to are especially remote and transport infrastructure is often ageing, inadequate and sometimes non-existent. Roads flood, bridges collapse, fallen trees and vehicles break down and get stuck. It’s all par for the course. Secret Compass teams thrive on the challenge this provides – overcoming it is more rewarding! Be prepared to get stuck in and push occasionally.
From Sharm El Sheikh Airport you’ll drive straight to the trailhead, a Bedouin camp on the shores of the Red Sea. At the end of the expedition you’ll be met by 4WD cars to drive you to the road and then will meet minivans for the drive to Dahab which is approx. 2-3 hours. The expedition ends in Dahab after breakfast but it will be easy for you to arrange taxis to drive back to Sharm El Sheikh (approx. 1h15) to catch flights home. These final transfers are your responsibility.
Other modes of transport
The remainder of the journey will be by foot, supported by camels.
Gulf of Aqaba. Your first night will be at a Bedouin camp a couple of hours north of Sharm el Sheikh. The accommodation will be basic bamboo huts on the beach. On the expedition, you’ll sleep under the stars. You will be provided with a carpet to sit and sleep on as well as a heavy Bedouin cloak called a Farwa, which you’ll use as a sleeping bag for the night. There will be no tents provided. In Dahab at the end of the expedition you’ll relax, wash and sleep in a comfortable hotel on the shores of the Red Sea.
Reality of living rough for days
Occasionally people on our expeditions are not prepared for sleeping in such conditions for multiple days. Living in these conditions can degrade your health if you do not look after yourself and can increase fatigue if you are not used to living in this manner. You need to be highly organised so that your night and morning routine is done efficiently and quickly. If you are inexperienced at camping, it is essential that you get as much practice as possible prior to the expedition.
Most of the produce will be purchased from Bedouin that still use local methods to dry and preserve food, this will include dried meats, fish, locally grown veg, herbs, fruit and cheese. We may also buy goats from local shepherds and cook the meat in the fire. Bread will be plentiful and freshly made (if you want to learn how to make local bread, your guides will be delighted to teach you). Expect plenty of dates and home-made energy mix to keep your legs going during the day. All of the expedition food has already been ordered as it not only has to be dried but first planted, grown and picked.
Please advise Secret Compass in advance of any dietary requirements and bear in mind that, although every effort would be made to accommodate different diets, this may not always be possible due to the minimalist nature of the expedition, in particular those on a gluten-free or vegan diet should consult Secret Compass before booking to discuss options. The coffee we drink will be the traditional green coffee that is roasted and ground around the fire. It is a brave person who declines the offer of coffee from a Bedouin. Black tea and herbal tea (with lots of sugar) are also on offer.
Dave Lucas is an experienced Secret Compass leader, Dave has spent over 85 months on expeditions in 85+ countries from Europe and Asia to Africa and Latin America. He thrives on exploring unclimbed areas of the world and has climbed new routes in dozens of countries. To Dave, the climbing is the ‘icing on the cake’. The real ‘fruit and nut mix’ is made from the people you meet, the animals you encounter, the sights you see and the wonderful food you eat. Dave’s adventures have been on the National Geographic Channel and on Sky TV; in four books; and in seven magazines. He has been recognised by the Royal Geographic Society (RGS) and has been a fellow of the RGS since his mid-twenties. Dave inspires others by speaking about his adventures at numerous public speaking events. Just one of his many adventures was climbing new routes to explore a ruined inaccessible Ethiopian palace for gold, treasure and legends. Dave lives for adventure and this combined with his professional manner and experience has resulted in his being a very sought after expedition guide.
You’ll have two excellent Bedouin Guides throughout the desert crossing, One is from the Tarabin tribe and the other is from the Jebeleya tribe. Their knowledge of the desert is second to none; they understand all the different local cultures and speak excellent English.
Secret Compass staff will be carrying at least two methods of communication, usually a Satellite Phone and a DeLorme two-way communication device. These will be used for regular updates to head office and for emergencies.
Unfortunately, routine communication between team members and family/friends is not possible – please reassure them that no news is good news! If there is an emergency and someone needs to contact a team member, they can contact Secret Compass’s Operations Room on +44207 096 8428 who will endeavour to pass a message on within 24hours.
Cell Phone. Your mobile roaming will work in towns. There may be no coverage along the majority of the route but this part of the back-to-basics appeal and you are encouraged to leave your phone turned off for the duration of the trek.