In mid-South Sinai lies the Saint Catherine’s Protected Area, one of the areas of the world with the greatest biological diversity.The basis of this National Park’s rationale is the conservation of biological diversity or bio-diversity.Catherine’s National Park occupies much of the central part of South Sinai, a mountainous region of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rock, which includes Egypt’s highest peaks (the mountains of St. Catherine’s, Moussa, Serbal, Umm Shomer and Tarbush).
St. Catherine’s Mountain is the highest peak in Egypt, 2,624 metres above sea level. The Sinai massif contains some of the world’s oldest rocks – around 80 per cent of them are 600 million years old. Several species are unique to the National Park, including two species of snakes and about 20 plant species, such as a beautiful native primrose. Around 1,000 plant species, representing almost 40 per cent of Egypt’s total flora, are found in this region. These include many endemic species. Half of the 33 known Sinai endemics are found in the St. Catherine’s area. Many of these are rare and endangered. Small orchards are scattered in wadis, particularly at higher elevations.
This high altitude ecosystem supports a surprising diversity of wild species; some found nowhere else in the world. The mountains are relic outposts for the Sinai rose finch from Asia, the ibex and wolf from Europe, and the striped hyena and Tristram’s grackle which came from Africa.
The white-crowned black wheatear is very characteristic of the area. There are 46 reptile species, 15 of which are found nowhere else in Egypt. The rich biodiversity of the region has gotten it listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Since the park lies on the Sinai High Mountain, the highest in Egypt, there are periods of snow and winters. The winters are rather cold and the melting glaciers are a source of water that runs down the slopes to the barren park plains. Hiking and mountain climbing are great during the warm summer months