Foraging with Friends


It’s spring – my favorite time of year in Sinai! Especially after a particularly wet winter since that means our desert plants are thriving and the goats and sheep have plenty to graze. Recently, we met Freyj, one of Bedouin History’s drivers and guides, at his daughter’s springtime camp in the desert. We were welcomed with smiles and a light lunch of fresh bread and goat milk. It didn’t take long for the children to wander over to see their grandfather and his foreign friends. Freyj knows well my passion for plants and photography and knew I would be eager to explore the surrounding desert. Recalling our failed attempts last year to locate one of the edible plants, Zeinab, one of Freyj’s young granddaughters, eagerly offered to get her digging tools and lead our exploration. So we set off with Zeinab, Farah, Mohamed, and Omar to forage for tummayr (تِمِّير), the Bedouin name for Erodium crassifolium.

Zeinab with her digging tool.
Zeinab with her digging tool.

Known in English as Desert Storks-bill or Hoary-leaved Heron’s-bill, this plant has an edible tuber that grows deep in the ground. But there are eight different Erodium species growing in Sinai so finding the right one involves a knowledge of what tummayr leaves look like and where they grow. All Erodiums have fruit that look like long bird beaks, hence their common English name, but each species has distinct leaves. 

Erodium fruit
Erodium fruit

Zeinab and the other children are a wealth of information about the local plants, especially the edible ones, as foraging for these are a favorite past time of the Bedouin children who live in the desert for a few months of the year.

Erodium crassifolium, (tummayr)
Erodium crassifolium, (tummayr)

I followed Zeinab through the wadi, trying to keep up with her quick steps and even quicker digging abilities. I try to figure out which Storks-bills are the ones we are looking for and was cheered on by Zeinab when I correctly point out a large tummayr plant. 

Zeinab digging for tubers.
Zeinab digging for tubers.

Zeinab dug quickly, scanning the area to check on the progress of the boys, who are leading their own expedition with my husband. It seems that this had turned into a contest to see which “team” can find the most. But we are all successful and end up with handfuls of edible tubers! The children remove the skins with their fingernails and hand them to us to eat. The small potato-like tubers are sweet and crunchy. 

Foraging with friends
Foraging with friends

Along the way, the children have also spotted sweet desert onions. They are so quick to dig these up that I never see what the plant looks like when it is still rooted in the earth. The onions, possibly an Allium species, are sweeter and juicier than the tummayr. And easier to reach as they are not buried so deep in the rocky ground.

Handful of collected onions and tubers.
Handful of collected onions and tubers.

We returned to camp to share our foraged goodies with the other adults at camp, but they showed little interest in eating our treats. It seems foraging with friends is a childhood habit, something to entertain them during the long days in the desert. How lucky I am to have such amazing young friends!

Flowers of Erodium crassifolium.
Flowers of Erodium crassifolium.

*****

Read more about how the Bedouin live during the spring:

https://bedouinhistorydesertsafari.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/floods-fruit-and-fettah-part-i/

 

Annual Camel Race Safari 2014


BHDS_Camel Race Ad 2014

 

It’s that time of year again! Join us on our Annual Camel Race Safari. The safari will start January 9th, 2014 and we’ll camp overnight in Wadi Zalaga nearby to where the camel race will start early morning on the 10th. After the race, we’ll spend the day and the night in the area, returning to Ras Sudr on January 11th. You can also start and end your safari in Dahab or Nuweiba.

Contact us for details:

eidalatrash [AT] hotmail [DOT] com or +0122 2681 938

Camel Race Safari in Wadi Zalaga


 

The race is scheduled for the morning of January 9th, 2013. The race starts early, about 8 am so we will spend the night before the race near the starting point in Wadi Zalaga and then have two more nights to explore the surrounding desert area.

You can start your journey from Dahab or Nuweiba for a price of €200 per person, including all transport, food, and drinks.

Or start from Ras Sudr for a price of a price of €250 per person.

(The cost of the safari can be paid in equivalent EGP.)

NOTE: It will be VERY cold in the desert at night! Last year, the temperature was below -4°C and water left in our bottles overnight was ice in the morning! Bring sleeping bags and extra warm clothes.

http://www.bedouinhistorydesertsafari.com/camelracesafari.html

New Spring Pasture Trekking Safari Itinerary


Spring Pasture Trekking Safari
(from end of February to end of April)

5 Days/4 Nights

55 Euros per person/per day

Meals prepared over an open fire and presented as an open buffet. Price includes
transport, meals, water, and hot drinks.

Day 1: Dahab to El Akhdar
Leaving Dahab 8 am, we drive 2 ­ 3 hours in a Land Cruiser to a spring pasture camping area in El Akhdar and El Elou (north of St. Catherine´s). Here we will have a hot lunch followed by free time to walk around explore the area. Before the sun sets, the women and girls will return to the area with their herds of sheep and goats. You will then have the opportunity to visit with a Bedouin family. We´ll have dinner and sleep overnight in a traditional Bedouin tent in El Akhdar.

Day 2: El Akhdar and El Elou
After an early breakfast, you will be able to watch the Bedouin women make ghee and cheese in the traditional fashion. You will also observe the traditional bread­making. After lunch, the Bedouin women will demonstrate their carpet weaving skills and other loom work. Free time to wander and explore until dinner. Overnight in El Akhdar.

Day 3: Zaranig
After breakfast, we make a day­long hike to Zaranig, carrying packed lunches with us. We will have dinner and stay overnight in a Bedouin tent in Zaranig.

Day 4: Gunnah Plateau OR El Wadi El Asmar OR Zaranig Canyon
After breakfast, you have the option of treks to Gunnah Plateua, El Wadi El Asmar, or Zaranig Canyon. We stay overnight in a traditional Bedouin tent in Zaranig.

Day 5: Return to Dahab
After breakfast, we drive by Land Cruiser from Zaranig to Dahab.

Download safari itinerary as a PDF

Visit our website for more information about our safaris.

Read more about the traditional cheese making here on our blog.

Recommended Reading: Trekking in South Sinai


 Trekking in South Sinai – the highlights

Author: Zoltan Matrahazi

Published by CreateSpace, June 2011

ISBN 10: 1463579209

ISBN 13: 9781463579203

Available for $6.50 from Amazon.com

Book description from Goodreads.com:

Although South Sinai is a popular holiday destination, the interior is still very little known. It is a world class trekking country though. Apart from the stunning desert landscapes there are rugged mountain ranges with many peaks well above 2000 metres, providing a cooler climate and enclosing a unique eco-system. There are seasonal and permanent creeks, waterfalls, waterpools and hundreds of lush Bedouin orchards. The Sinai, furthermore, has a very significant religious importance and there are many archaeological sites across the region from different ages. This little book, despite describing only 8 treks, is the first trekking guide to South Sinai as such. Although it only presents some of the highlights, it gives a glimpse of all the different regions and shows well the diversity of the peninsula. • 8 treks from 6 different regions • 17 maps and GPS coordinates • Trek images with waypoints • Index of places in English and Arabic • Bedouin-Arabic glossary

My thoughts:

This is an excellent resource for planning your trekking safaris through the mountains and wadis around St. Katherine’s! According to the law, all visitors to the area must hire a local guide for trekking so this book alone will not get you through the deserts of south Sinai. However, the information presented gives readers a better understanding of what to expect along the way – distances, interesting sites, level of difficulty, etc. – perfect for trekkers trying to decide which route they would like to take! The routes described in the book include treks to Mt. Sinai, Mt. Katharina, Coloured Canyon, Serabit el Khadim, Wadi Feiran and more. The GPS coordinates and the photos will help confirm locations for curious travelers.  The Bedouin Arabic – English glossary included at the end is also a very useful addition to this guide.

New Safari Itineraries


Map of the Sinai Peninsula with country border...
Image via Wikipedia

Now that the weather should start cooling down (It is unseasonably warm at the moment!), it is the perfect time for planning a desert safari through Sinai.

I’ve posted two new itineraries on my website:

Trans-Sinai Safari

This first one is a safari from one side of the Sinai peninsula to the other! Traveling by jeep from Ras Sudr to Nuweiba, this trip (4 days/3 nights) is perfect for a long weekend, especially for Cairo residents.

Gunna Mountain Safari

This is a longer safari (6 days/5 nights) for those interested in hiking up mountains and wandering through wadis. You’ll also be able to ride camels!

Other safari itineraries can be arranged so send us a message if you have a specific place in mind that you’d like to visit or would like to discuss other options.