A group of Greek monks were prohibited access to the mountains near Wadi Al-Talaa valley, close to Sinai’s St. Catherine, after four hikers died in adverse weather conditions in the area earlier this week.
The tourism police prevented the monks’ trip despite their having been registered with licensed tour guides, fearing a repeat of Sunday’s incident when four hikers died in the area during a blizzard.
The 54 monks had prepared a convoy of camels and hired eight Bedouin guides for the trip, but were surprised to learn of the current ban, reported Al-Ahram’s Arabic website.
There was a small protest by local Bedouins at the headquarters of the tourism police in St. Catherine, demanding access to the valley be restored.
The deaths of the hikers hit the headlines in Egypt earlier in the week, with some commentators accusing the authorities of failing to respond quickly enough to reports that the hikers were missing. Others accused the group’s Bedouin guide and the organiser of the trip of inexperience.
The army, who dispatched a unit guided by Bedouins to rescue members of the hiking group who had survived the blizzard, denied the claims that its response had been slow, and published photos of the rescue operation.