Mountain Garden Retreats

The most relaxing way to enjoy the High Mountains is to stay at one of the many beautiful Bedouin gardens. Relax in stunning setting and beautiful nature, experience traditional Bedouin life and recharge your batteries. You can explore the mountains at your own pace as there is always a guide at your help if needed. The income from the gardens helps owners to look after their places and encourages younger generations to follow the tradition.Garden owners have been catering for trekkers over a long period of time and are developing their gardens to provide more comfort for people wishing to stay longer. A number of local organizations are providing or promising to provide assistance as from own resources most people are unable to do these improvements. St-Katherine.Net has been and continues supporting one of the garden owners, Farhan Mohamed, to improve his Abu Jidda garden (see details), and now, cooperating with the locals Sheikhs, has initiated a garden scheme to help more garden owners.

For details visit www.Baraka-Gardens.com.

Below is a list of gardnes which are suitable for longer stay. They are groupped according areas or hubs which are located along the main trekking circuits.

Map of Hubs 1. Wadi Shaq (Wadi Shaq, Wadi Mathar,
Wadi Rhazana, El Hrezi)

2. Wadi Zawatin (El Ehded, Wadi Zawatin,
Ziri, Farsh Zaq)

3. Wadi Arbain
4. Wadi Talaa
5. Wadi Itlah
6. Wadi Tinya
7. Wadi Abu Tuweita
8. Ras el Jibal (Abu Jidda, Wadi Bulia,
Wadi Jibal until Jebel Aswad Eish)

9. Farsh Rummana (Farsh Rummana,
Shigiga, Ain el Ralyan, Tbeq)

10. Sheikh Awad (Wadi Madaman,
Sheikh Awad, Wadi Gharba)

11. Bustan el Birka (Wadi Freah,
Bustan el Birka, Wadi Abu Zaituna)

12. Jebel Banat (Milan el Wudya)
Area Wadi Shaq (Wadi Shaq, Wadi Mathar, Wadi Rhazana, El Hrezi)
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
1.5 hrs
Description The area is right below Jebel Katherina on the Western side of the ridge.

  • Wadi Shaq is a short, narrow wadi with one Bedouin garden.
  • Wadi Mathar is a big, open sandy plain with three big gardens some distance apart, a narrow canyon with seasonal water pools, the ruins of a Byzantine monastic settlement and a hermit cell.
  • Wadi Rhazana is a wide valley with abandoned and rarely used Bedouin gardens and buildings.
  • El Hrezi is a small valley at the foot of Jebel el Ahmar and separated from Wadi Mathar by a small granite ridge, with a Bedouin garden.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Jebel Katherina 4 hrs
  • Jebel Abbas Basha 3 hrs
  • Galt el Azraq 6 hrs
  • Bab el Donya 6 hrs
  • Kharazet el Shaq 4 hrs
Owner, family Oda Mohammed (Abu Masaud)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Medium size garden with building and 2 arishas, and separate stone huts in different state.
Location Secluded narrow valley between steep rock walls.
Water Good amount of water, water tanks, wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grape, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities Composting toilet, simple shower.
Personal information Oda stays long periods in his garden all year round, and he is a handyman and silver smith.
Owner, family Isbail Taya (Ulad Said tribe)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Big garden with 3 rooms, arisha and open sitting areas.
Location Wide open sandy plain.
Water Good amount of water, a very big water tank, wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grapes, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities None.
Personal information Isbail is highly respected by both Jebeliya and Ulad Said people.
Owner, family Farhan Faraj (Abu Karsh)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Medium size garden with big water tank.
Location Secluded narrow valley.
Water Fair amount of water, a big but dry water tank, well.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees.
Facilities None.
Personal information Farhan is an excellent cook.
Area Wadi Zawatin (El Ehded, Wadi Zawatin, Ziri, Farsh Zaq)
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
1.5 hrs
Description There are beautiful views of Jebel Katherina from every place. It is the proposed location for the High Mountains Ecolodge.

  • El Ehded is the lower part of Wadi Zawatin with two gardens.
  • Wadi Zawatin is a narrow valley with a long stretch of Bedouin gardens.
  • Ziri is the upper part of Wadi Zawatin with a number of gardens.
  • Two basins, above Wadi Zawatin on each side, are called Farsh Zagg. The lower has ruins built by Abbas Pasha which are probably protected by the Ministry of Antiquities, but there is a fairly big empty area next to them. The higher basin is larger and more secluded, and there is an abandoned Bedouin settlement in fairly good state. There is no water in any of the basins.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Jebel Katherina 5 hrs
  • Jebel Abbas Basha 2 hrs
  • Galt el Azraq 6 hrs
  • Bab el Donya 6 hrs
  • Kharazet el Shaq 3 hrs
Owner, family Saad Mahmoud (Abu Saada)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Large garden with a number of separate buildings and arishas, and Bedouin tents. Saad is building a kitchen/dining area for guests.
Location Short narrow valley.
Water Good amount of water, water tanks, wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grape, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities Toilet, big stone walled shower.
Personal information Saad has another garden not far and grows vegetables on both for providing organic produce for his venture.
Owner, family Mohammed Ahmed (Hashash)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Medium garden with a stone room and arisha.
Location Short narrow valley.
Water Good amount of water, water tanks, wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grape, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities Toilet, simple shower.
Personal information Mohammed is a trained nurse.
Owner, family Farhan Faraj (Abu Karsh) and Eid Faraj ()
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Two hidden stone rooms little above the wadi and a big open area with spectacular views.
Location Short narrow valley.
Water There is a water tank needing repair and water can be pumped up from a garden below. Also camels or donkeys could bring up water if not used excessively.
Garden walls Good supporting walls.
Orchard, garden None.
Facilities None.
Personal information Two families are involved which makes decisions timely.
Owner, family Amriya Faraj (Abu Karsh)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Small gardens in the wadi and hidden stone rooms little above.
Location Short narrow valley and a small secluded basin.
Water Good amount of water, water tanks, wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grape, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities Simple shower.
Personal information Amriya is the only woman who stays extended periods of the year in the mountain. She looks after a number of gardens and runs a small kiosk.
Owner, family Hussein Abu Tarawa
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Small garden, stone room and arisha.
Location Short narrow valley.
Water Good amount of water, water tank, well.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees.
Facilities Simple shower, composting toilet.
Personal information Hussein is a popular guide and he speaks English well.
Area Wadi Arbain
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
1 hr
Description It is a narrow valley with the Monastery of the Forty Martyrs and the Rock of Moses, on the way to Mt. Sinai or Mt. Katherine. Good track, very easy to reach from the town.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Jebel Katherina 4 hrs
  • Jebel Musa (Mt. Sinai) 2 hrs
  • Farsh Loza and Farsh Safsafa 2 hrs
Owner, family Ramadan Eid (Abu Sayed)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Big garden, many stone rooms and a number of arishas and Bedouin tents in separate locations.
Location Narrow valley.
Water Good amount of water, water tank, well.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grape, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities Simple shower, toilets.
Personal information Ramadan plays the simsimiya, a stringed Bedouin instrument, and breeds rock hyraxes.
Area Wadi Talaa
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
1 hr
Description There is one Bedouin garden, the Monastery of Cosmas and Damianos, and some beautiful big orchards belonging to the Monastery.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Sid Daud 1hr
  • Jebel Abbas Basha 3 hrs
  • Kharazet el Shaq 4 hrs
Owner, family Hussein Family (Hashash)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type 3 small gardens with a number of stone rooms and arishas.
Location End of narrow valley under a steep gully.
Water Used to be good amount of water, but this year it is next to nothing. The big water tank is dry, there is little water in the wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grape, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities None.
Personal information All the sons and grandsons of Hussein work together in the garden which used to be one of the best in the whole region, but the drought this year (2008) hit it especially hard.
Area Wadi Itlah
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
1-2 hrs
Description It is a long narrow valley with a rocky drop in the middle. There are many gardens, the Church of St. John of the Ladder and traditional herbalist Ahmed Mansour’s garden and school. It is accessible both from St. Katherine and the settlement of Abu Seila.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Jebel Abbas Basha 3 hrs
  • Kharazet el Shaq 2-3 hrs
  • Sheikh Awad 4-5 hrs
  • Bustan el Birka 4-5 hrs
Owner, family Haj Ahmed Mansour (Diguni)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Big garden in the wadi floor with big building, a number of shady areas, a Bedouin tent and two separate stone huts above.
Location Middle, flat part of narrow valley.
Water Good amount of water, water tanks, wells and one public tank outside the garden for public use.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, dates, grape, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities Simple shower, composting and non-composting toilets, good kitchen, electricity from PV in huts above.
Personal information Dr. Ahmed, as he is also known, is a traditional herbalist and runs a school for Bedouin children to preserve traditional heritage and knowledge.
Area Wadi Tinya
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
4-5 hrs
Description It is a long wadi which is wide at times then gets narrow, with small valleys and basins on the sides. There are some Byzantine ruins in the area.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Wadi Sagar 1 hrs
  • Kharazet el Shaq 0.5-2 hrs
  • Jebel Naja 2-4 hrs
  • Jebel Abbas Basha 1-3 hrs
  • Galt el Azraq 4 hrs
  • Sheikh Awad 5-7 hrs
Owner, family Shob Farhan (Abu Krishan)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type A medium and a small garden with a small building and a number of arishas.
Location Lower, narrow part of the wadi.
Water Good amount of water, water tanks, many wells and a very big but dry water tank.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grape, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities None.
Personal information Shob’s garden is located right next to a well preserved Byzantine building.
Owner, family Sharaha Uwad (Abu Aluan)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type A medium garden which has been badly hit by a flash flood 2 years ago, a number of stone rooms next to it and a big stone hut further.
Location Upper, wide part of the wadi.
Water Fair amount of water, water tank, well.
Garden walls Fair condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees.
Facilities None.
Owner, family Ibrahim Salah (Diguni)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type A medium garden which has been badly hit by a flash flood 2 years ago and a number of stone rooms next to it.
Location Upper, wide part of the wadi.
Water Fair amount of water, water tank, well.
Garden walls Fair condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees.
Facilities None.
Area Wadi Abu Tuweita
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
4 hrs
Description It is a short valley with big basins and a sandy plain around it.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Wadi Sagar 0.5 hrs
  • Kharazet el Shaq 2 hrs
  • Jebel Naja 4 hrs
  • Jebel Abbas Basha 3 hrs
  • Galt el Azraq 2 hrs
Owner, family Saad Salah (Diguni)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type A medium garden with a big arisha and his brother’s stone room outside.
Location Middle, narrow part of the wadi.
Water Good amount of water, water tank, well.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees.
Facilities Composting toilet.
Personal information Saad works for the Medicinal Plants Project in town and speaks good English.
Area Ras el Jibal (Abu Jidda, Wadi Bulia, Wadi Jibal until Jebel Aswad Eish)
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
2-2.5 hrs
Description There are big empty sandy plains, valleys with gardens, elevated plateaus and basins with fine views, under “the Head of the Mountains”, Jebel Umm Loz.

  • Abu Jidda is a secluded small basin above the main valley with a Bedouin garden.
  • Wadi Bulia is a short, green valley joining the main valley with gardens and a plateau with three clusters of stone huts.
  • Wadi Jibal is a long stretch of gardens in different state.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Jebel Katherina 5 hrs
  • Jebel Abbas Basha 3 hrs
  • Galt el Azraq 4 hrs
  • Bab el Donya 4 hrs
  • Kharazet el Shaq 4 hrs
Owner, family Farhan Mohammed (Abu Lheim)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Medium size garden with small room and arisha.
Location Secluded small granite basin above main wadi.
Water Fair amount of water, small water tank, 2 wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grape, vegetables, herbs.
Facilities None.
Personal information Farhan dreams of setting up a solar watered pump to replace the noisy diesel pump.
Owner, family Faraj Oda (Abu Rafia)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Medium size garden with building and arisha.
Location Secluded short valley.
Water Fair amount of water, water tank, wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grapes.
Facilities None.
Owner, family Hussein Salah (Ulad Mgannam)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Medium size garden with 1 stone room, one arisha in garden, 3 stone huts with courtyard a bit away.
Location Garden in secluded short valley and huts on elevated plateau some distance away.
Water Fair amount of water, water tank, wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grapes.
Facilities Composting toilet, simple shower.
Owner, family Eid Salah (Abu Rafia)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type 2 stone rooms and an arisha with courtyard.
Location Elevated plateau.
Water Water can be obtained from a garden in the wadi.
Garden walls Fair condition.
Orchard, garden None.
Facilities None.
Owner, family Mohammed Salah (Abu Hebb) and Awad Hussein (Abu Hebb)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Fairly big garden in wadi floor and 3 huts on plateau.
Location Garden in valley floor and huts on elevated plateau above the garden.
Water Little amount of water, wells.
Garden walls Fair condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees.
Facilities None.
Personal information Mohammed Salah owns the bigger part of the garden and he is a renowned camel doctor. Awad Hussein owns a small part at the lower end, he is a handyman and silversmith. There are wells in both parts.
Owner, family Suliman Musa Zidan (Abu Lheim)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Fairly big garden and 2 big stone huts.
Location Garden in valley floor and huts on elevated bank above the garden.
Water Little amount of water, wells.
Garden walls Fair condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees.
Facilities None.
Owner, family Salem Faraj ()
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Fairly big garden with 2 rooms and 1 arisha.
Location Garden and rooms in valley floor.
Water Good amount of water, wells.
Garden walls Good condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees, grapes, vegetables.
Facilities Simple shower and composting toilet under construction.
Owner, family Sobhy Hmeid (Megable)
gardens - st. katherine.net
Property type Small garden and stone huts.
Location Wadi and small plateau above wadi.
Water Little amount of water in garden.
Garden walls Fair condition.
Orchard, garden Fruit trees.
Facilities None.
Area Farsh Rummana (Farsh Rummana, Shigiga, Ain el Ralyan, Tbeq)
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
4 hrs
Description It is a wide basin with large boulders, granite ridges and sandy hills separating small valleys.

  • Farsh Rummana is the widest part of the area with many – mostly neglected – gardens.
  • Shigiga is a short narrow valley with many – mostly neglected – gardens.
  • Ain el Ralyan is a long narrow valley with a number of gardens.
  • Tbeq is a small lush basin with neglected, broken gardens and buildings.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Galt el Azraq 2 hrs
  • Bab el Donya 2 hrs
  • Jebel Abbas Basha 6 hrsSheikh Awad 6 hrs
gardens - st. katherine.netFarsh Rummana is a convenient stay for trekkers and gardens in the area have been providing accommodation for many years. The area has been hit hard by the current drought and most gardens are in a bad state and neglected. Only the Abu Ghalaba family is active in the area. In the past Mohammed Abu Ghalaba built a big bathroom which is not used now, and a big kitchen in order to provide for big groups, in the central part of the area. He has recently built a well further up and works on a number of rooms in addition to the existing two. He seems to abandon the old place, although the location is beautiful and the existing infrastructure needs only minor repairs. Hussein Abu Ghalaba is developing another garden in the area further down, with plans to build a small camp.
Area Sheikh Awad (Wadi Madaman, Sheikh Awad, Wadi Gharba)
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
3 hrs
Description Sheikh Awad is a small settlement at the foot of the high mountain massif with long, wide and open sandy wadis reachable by car and narrow rocky mountain wadis leading to the high mountains.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Jebel Banat 3 hrs
  • Sidda Nogra 2 hr
  • Galt el Azraq 4 hrs
  • Wadi Itlah  4 hrs
gardens - st. katherine.netSheikh Awad is a small settlement which can be reached from St. Katherine via Abu Seila and Naqb el Hawa on foot, or from Tarfa village along the main St. Katherine road by car. There are other options for trekkers from St. Katherine or Wadi Feiran. The indeed beautiful El Karm Ecolodge is located in Wadi Gharba East of the settlement. It is difficult to compete with such a place, but there are other possibilities. Oda Hder has a big medicinal herb garden in Wadi Madaman and has been catering for groups of botany students. There are a number of shady places and arishas, simple shower and a composting toilet. The advantage of the place is the closeness to the lower Wadi Jibal valleys rich in plant life. There are some beautiful but neglected gardens around the settlement.
Area Bustan el Birka (Wadi Freah, Bustan el Birka, Wadi Abu Zaituna)
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
2 hrs
Description Big open sandy plains surrounded by high ridges and corridor-like long narrow valley with date palms. Many Byzantine ruins and mostly neglected gardens.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Jebel Banat 3 hrs
  • Sidda Nogra 2 hr
  • Sheikh Awad 4 hrs
  • Jebel Sanaa 2 hrs
gardens - st. katherine.netA big, open sandy escarpment ideal for longer stays, the area is also on some treks. There is not much water in the area, only one garden has sufficient amount at the beginning of Wadi Freah, a short climb away from the settlement of Abu Seila. The garden operates as a camel school for tourists, and is owned by Mohammed Musa who works with former teacher Gordon Wilkinson. The area is an important archeological field with many well preserved monastic ruins.
Area Jebel Banat (Milan el Wudya)
Distance from town
(one way on foot)
5 hrs
Description There are narrow valleys with neglected, broken gardens belonging to two tribes.
Distance from main places of interest
(one way on foot)
  • Jebel Banat 1 hrs
  • Sidda Nogra 1 hr
  • Bustan el Birka 2 hrs
  • Jebel Sanaa 4 hrs
  • Sheikh Awad 2 hrs
Although significant only as an overnight stop for trekkers to Jebel Banat, some simple but adequate accommodation would be useful as it is on the main trekking circuits. In contrast to the magnificent views from the peak the area is rather depressing, neglected and lawless. If there was suitable accommodation people staying at the El Karm Ecolodge in Sheikh Awad could make a nice one-night program to see Wadi Gharba, Sidda Nogra and the sunset from Jebel Banat and returning the following day via Naqb el Hawa.
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