This woman leads hikers along Egypt’s Sinai Trail

As Umm Yasser reeled off her household chores — collect wood, cook, make bread, shepherd goats — she stopped to say why she decided to also lead trail hikes through the mountains of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“Normally, a woman’s role is to take care of the household, family and children,” Umm Yasser, a Bedouin member of the Hamada tribe, said recently. “Hiking is the first time I earned an income.”

Umm Yasser, whose name means “mother of Yasser” and per tradition is known by her son’s name, this year became the first woman to sign on as a guide on the Bedouin-led hiking initiative along the Sinai Trail, until recently Egypt’s only long-distance hiking route. It’s run by eight tribes in the region.

She tested traditional gender norms among Bedouin of the peninsula — who have a long history of escorting travelers and pilgrims through the Sinai — when she led her first group of hikers in April at age 47.

Autumn brings the start of another hiking season, which generally runs through spring, and head trail guides can make roughly the equivalent of $40 per day showing tourists how to navigate the area.

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