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Category: Desert

The Extreme Hiking Trip to the Porphyry Mountains - Red Sea Bulletin March/April 2015

 

In January 2015 my dad organized a hiking trip with famous Swiss desert explorer André - Jean Pierre and Sheikh Abd El Zaher of the Khushma'an clan to the Porphyry Mountains, the only area in the world with this quality of Porphyr. The Red Porphyr was the favorite stone of the Roman Emperors and symbol of power. They transport blocks of up to 45 tons from here 170 km through the desert to the Nile, then by boats to the Mediterranean and from there by ships to Rome. Unbelievable!

A Land Cruiser brought us to the foot of the mountain. Our plan was to go over the Lepsius Pass to the Serapis Temple and the Castellum, the administrative buildings of the Roman Porphyry quarries. Just to think that already the Romans used this secret path to cross these mountains we were walking now … what a feeling. 

At first the mountains weren’t steep. There were a lot of interesting stones. My brother Nikita and his friend Marcel were climbing up the really high and steep rocks, I have no idea how. The rest of the group followed the Bedouin guide. I was chatting with my dad, I don’t know for how long. When I looked up I couldn’t say a word. I saw these high mountains and sharp cliffs, and found out that we should climb them to get to the top! We were doing pretty well. During millions of years water and wind made these sharp rocks smooth and slippery. It was hard to climb them. I found a safe rock and sat on it. What I saw was indescribable. The view was so beautiful, that I held my eyes wide open for a long time. It seemed that the top of the mountain was even further away every step we took! The weather was getting hotter and we took out our jackets and pullovers we were wearing, as it was very cold in the morning.  Everybody became to be tired. I looked at the time. We were already hiking for 3 hours. ‘We reached the top!’ - Nikita exclaimed with excitement. I felt so much relieved. Finally we made a stop. Ate some snacks. The Bedouin guide made us Rabul tea. Rabul is a plant that grows in the dessert. He just cut a leaf, put it in a cup and added hot water. It tasted really good. 

After the rest we went down the mountain. It was less exhausting then the way up. Walking down the mountain we saw the land cruiser waiting for us, far away. I was the first one to reach it, and we had a small rest. 

Now was time to go to the Castellum, on the way  I saw something like a small broken building, I discovered it was the famous Serapis Temple. The walls were one meter thick! The doors were very small! There was a big rock with something in Greek letters written on it. Mr. Pierre told us that it was used as a church after the Romans had left. On the way we found a lot of smaller porphyry stones. They were very beautiful. 

The next stop was the first dessert garden EVER (comment: not existing anymore), planted by Salma! I entered the green gate of flowers, trees, and bushes … all different kinds that I never saw before. There were many blooming cactuses too. We walked from the desert garden to the camp. The Bedouins made a fire. It was getting dark and cold, so a fire, tea and food was exactly what we needed. We all were sitting around the fire place to keep warm. 

 

Soon it was time to go home. I will never forget this trip!More information and photos: 

By Alisa Krakhofer (11 years)

 

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