Jebel Shayib

Jebel Shayib

The highest mountain anywhere in Egypt

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Description

Outside the Sinai, Jebel Shayib – or Jebel Shayib el Banat, as it’s also known – is the highest mountain anywhere in Egypt. A towering bulwark of rugged peaks and ravines, its 2187m summit gazes over the Red Sea to the Hejaz ranges of Arabia and the Sinai to the east. To the west, the desolate tablelands of the Nile Valley are visible. Legend has it a Bedouin maiden called Selima was the first person to climb Jebel Shayib, probably a few hundred years ago. Only later, in the first half of the 20th century, did Europeans finally scale its summit, guided by the Bedouin. Shayib means Old Man and its name is said to come from the light-coloured granite summit block of the mountain, which it’s said resembles an elderly man’s white hair. A magical tree is said to grow on the slopes of Jebel Shayib, illuminating its rocky crags every few years although nobody has ever found the tree. Jebel Shayib is one of Egypt’s most remarkable summits, but it remains little-known and is seldom climbed. The Red Sea Mountain Trail begins and ends near Jebel Shayib and is the centre for one of six hiking hubs along the trail. The mountain can be climbed from all sides, but no approach counts as easy. For more on climbing the mountain, read our special Jebel Shayib section. As well as climbs on Jebel Shayib, beautiful old Bedouin trails crisscross this district, ranging in difficulty and offering hikes of different length, from a few hours to multi-day routes. Generally, this region is characterised by high, aggressive peaks, deep, shadowy gorges, and wide, sweeping plains; it has a hard, unforgiving feel without the water, greenery, and softness of other sections. Jebel Shayib is one of the easiest parts of the Red Sea Mountain Trail to access, with jeeps from Hurghada taking just over one hour. 

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