St. Catherine's is smack in the middle of the Sinai Peninsula and has an end-of-the-Earth feel to it. The town is little more than a single loop of road that passes a few hotels and a couple of stores, and despite the enormous number of tourists and pilgrims who come here, it feels isolated and not particularly welcoming. Just a couple of kilometers outside town, however, is the beautifully preserved 6th-century monastery of St. Catherine, which is said to be built on the site where God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. Just behind the monastery is Mount Sinai, locally known as Jebel Moussa (Mount Moses), where he apparently received The Ten Commandments.

Apart from its religious significance, this area has some of the most spectacular, not to mention bleak and intimidating, topography in the country. For the most part, it's extremely arid (hot in the summer and cold in the winter), and the landscape is marked by low jagged mountains that conceal tiny valleys full of greenery. Hiking in this area is tough but rewarding. For those who wish to experience the area without the pain, or simply want a base for further exploration, there's a lovely ecolodge just outside the town of St. Catherine near the village of Sheikh Awad.