The Sinai is home to more than 20 Bedouin tribes. Each one has its own territory: some tribes even have two separate territories! The tribes require hikers to use guides when moving in their territory. The Sinai Trail crosses the territories of eight Bedouin tribes: the Tarabin, Muzeina, Jebeleya, Awlad Said, Garasha, Sowalha, Hamada and Alegat. A tribesman of the local tribe will generally know his territory better than tribesmen from other tribes and will always have more local connections. Some tribes are more used to trail guiding than others; levels of English, for example, will vary between tribes. The Tarabin, Muzeina, Jebeleya and Alegat, have better English, and are more used to guiding work, than tribes. Over time, the Sinai Trail is working on building skills and sometimes guides with appropriate skills are assigned to work in the territory of another tribe – solely within the Sinai Trail – under the control of that particular tribe, as part of an inter-tribal agreement made by the Sinai Trail Bedouin Cooperative.
All hikers on the Sinai Trail, and in the Sinai in general, must take Bedouin guides. This guiding system has been in place for centuries. Guiding is one of the few ways the Bedouin have survived economically in the harsh, barren desert landscapes they call home. Today, it gives them a legitimate way of earning a living, and a unique niche in the economy, which the Sinai Trail is working so hard to build. Guiding supports communities economically. It also ensures traditional Bedouin knowledge of the Sinai – the ways, the water, the place names, the legends, poems and history – plus the skills needed to move through the landscape safely, from navigating, to keeping camels healthy, remains alive. This knowledge is largely unwritten; much of it has already been lost to younger generations, for whom it is no longer relevant. Guiding makes it relevant again; it makes it valuable and worth holding onto for the future.
Hiking with a Bedouin Guide
A Bedouin guide will never limit your independence. The Bedouin are a very independent people, and an experienced guide will understand exactly what it is to want freedom and solitude in a wild place. Bedouin guides will organize food, water and the camels to carry it and a support team if necessary. Bedouin guides know exactly how to organize a trip. As well as arranging the trip, showing the way, cooking, and enriching a hike with information, guides will give up-to-date, on-the-ground advice on everything from weather hazards to dangerous wildlife and any political concerns. With a good Bedouin guide, the hike is safer and richer. The Bedouin are excellent wilderness companions who make the Sinai what it is; without them, the Sinai and its scenery would still look spectacular, but the real spirit of the land would be missing.
Can I hike independently?
We understand some hikers will still want to go 100% independently but currently in Sinai is not allowed to hike alone.
Do I need a camel?
Camels are essential. They carry the water, the food and the hiking gear. There are only few source of water in the Sinai desert and no shops so camels are a necessity to carry all the supplies required for a trip.
Hikers will carry a small bag, with water, snacks, warm clothes and other essentials, and everything they need for the day and will meet the camels in the camp for the evening. Camels can be ridden as well. The Sinai Trail can be traveled also on camel.