By Mohamed El-Hebeishy
"IN THE THIRD month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai..." -- Exodus, Chapter 19.
Undoubtedly, it is one of the most distinctive biblical sagas; the Exodus didn't only put Sinai on the map, but also left it with a handful of unanswered questions. From where did the Israelites cross? Was it Mt Moses where the prophet received the Ten Commandments, or was it somewhere else? Where did they relentlessly roam for 40 years? The Desert of Paran or rather the Desert of Wanderings. The desert known today as Badiet Al-Tih offers the most probable answer to where the children of Israel were lost. Part of this limestone chain of mountains is the marvellous Coloured Canyon.
Mysterious, yet captivating as the rest of the peninsula, this colourful rock formation is literally a geological wonderland. Sandstone formations that mineralised and naturally stained through the ages make for the colourful walls, which reach as high as 80 metres in some parts.
The canyon itself is a water-eroded formation that zigzagged its way through the mountains. Twisted and narrow, the passageway is only one metre wide. When compared to the famous 1,200 metre Siq in Jordan, the canyon that leads to the Nabatean town of Petra, the Coloured Canyon is relatively shorter, averaging 700 metres.
Two adventurous obstacles cross your way while venturing the canyon; the first is a small hole where you need to slide through. At this point, the canyon is quite narrow, allowing one fit person at a time. Between its closing walls, a big rock blocks the way, allowing only a small hole underneath it; this is where you can pass. The second is rather a large boulder that also blocks your way, but this time there is no holes to go through, you only need to either swing yourself around or simply jump!