Last January, the Red Sea Mountain Trail, Egypt’s first inland long-distance hiking trail, was established amidst the peaks and gorges of the Eastern Desert’s mountains.
The trail connects ancient travel, hunting, and trade routes, known only to the Bedouins of the pastoral landscapes. The tribesmen of Khushmaan, a clan of the larger Maaza, one of Egypt’s largest nomadic tribes, learn about this route from a young age as part of their cultural heritage.
For centuries, the trail has been a part of the Bedouin culture that was never shared with the outside world, until the arrival of Ben Hoffler, the man behind the Sinai trail, a sister trail in the Sinai Peninsula, and a group of interested individuals including Egyptian mountaineer, Omar Samra, Martina Sedlakova, and Tony Howard. This group approached Sheikh Merayi Abu Musallem, the head of the Khushmaan clan and introduced the idea of a Red Sea Mountain Trail. It’s similar to the Sinai Trail and would be a community tourism project fully owned by the Bedouin people of the Maaza tribe. Not to mention that it seeks to create jobs while preserving the endangered nomadic culture.
In April, The Red Sea Mountain Trail Association (RSMTA) had its first event: the opening of the trail with a two-day hiking adventure into the heart of the 170-kilometer hiking trail in the highlands of Hurghada. The travelers were guided by Sheikh Merayi Abu Musallem and other Bedouin tribesmen who developed the RSMT, along with Omar Samra, Egypt’s first Everest mountaineer.
The Red Sea Mountain Trail is a 170-kilometer, 10-day hiking route that showcases the beautiful landscape of the Red Sea Mountains outside of Hurghada.
A few days ago, Time Magazine listed the Red Sea Mountain Trail as one of the greatest destinations of 2019. It is one of three Arab entries that made it to this year’s list. The other two are the Quranic Park in Dubai and the National Museum of Qatar in Doha.
Times Magazine praised the RSMT for being a community tourism project that aims to introduce travelers to the Eastern Bedouin culture of Egypt in addition to empowering the local communities it serves. For instance, hikers are accompanied by Bedouin guides and cameleers who provide traditional food and insight into their culture. With initiatives such as this one, more and more Bedouins will be encouraged to remain in their communities, immerse in their heritage, and have enough financial stability to lead meaningful lives, without having to travel or work in different regions.