Lake Qarun has been a source of fish and a habitat for waterfowl since time immemorial. The lake’s main water source is drainage from agricultural land, which enters through two major drains called el-Batts and el-Wadi. This water has become increasingly saline as agriculture has intensified and the water is now more saline than seawater. Freshwater fish and invertebrates have largely disappeared and marine species have been introduced. This lake is of international importance for wintering waterbirds including Black-necked Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis , and Northern Shoveller, Anas clypeata . A fruitful day can be spent here in el-Fayoum (1h30 driving distance from Cairo) seeing the numerous ancient sites including the small but excellent museum.
It’s a protected area located in Luxor Governorate by the sedimentary sequence of the Eastern Desert mountains. Umm Dababeyya has an estimated age of 50-55 million years old. The protected area is considered to show an ideal geological sequence that represents a time scale considered to the most perfect strata in the world. The strata represent a history of the beginnings of modern fauna and flora. This precious section of the protected area has allowed geologist estimate the age of the earth by identifying the marine sediments and determining the processes that coincided with their deposition and the creatures that contributed to each stratum.
Wadi El Hitan Valley of the Whales
Within two hours driving distance from Cairo, in the Fayoum area, you’ll discover a yet more impressive meaning of ‘Ancient’ Egypt. The remote valley of Wadi El-Hitan (Valley of the Whales) is more of an open-air museum displaying rare gigantic fossils of ancient whales and sharks proving that some 40 to 50 million years ago, the area was submerged in the waters of what is known as the Tethys Sea. After lying trapped in the sands of the Western Desert, the fossil skeletons have been revealed by winds and erosion, and thanks to human intervention through a number of ongoing archaeological excavations sponsored by the National Geographic Society and by the University of Michigan. The landscapes surrounding the valley are just as impressive and amazing as the discoveries: gigantic sand rocks and mountains, dunes and hills. Try to visit the valley around sunset for a magical experience; the views and the colours are just amazing at that time of the day. The Valley of the Whales is part of the WRPA (Wadi El-Rayan Protected Area) and it has also been added in 2005 to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List for its unique natural beauty and scientific significance. The Wadi Al-Rayan protectorate can only be reached by a private car or taxi, taking the Fayoum Desert Road from Cairo. A 4X4 vehicle would be a good choice, since the road becomes pretty bumpy after leaving Fayoum.
Aswan Bird Watching
Sailing the Nile River on a felucca gives you great bird watching opportunities. You ll be able to spot the Green Heron and migratory water birds such as the Egyptian Goose and hope for a chance encounter with Black Kites as they circle above the west bank of the Nile and you might also spot Egyptian Vultures.