Fayoum Oasis

Fayoum is located about 100 KM southwest of Cairo. It is not a true oasis, since it depends on Nile water instead of underground springs or wells. The lush greenery of Fayoum stretches along Lake Qaroun, Egypt’s largest saltwater lake, bordered by semi-nomadic Bedouin settlements and fishing villages. And it has many ancient Egyptian monuments, and also the Whales Valley. Exotic birds thrive here, and cotton, clover, tomatoes, medicinal plants and fruit are all grown in the rich soil of Fayoum.

The local souk in Fayoum City specializes in copperware, spices and gold jewelry. There is also a special pottery market there once a week.

El Lahun Pyramid - FayoumThe capital of Fayoum, Medinet, was originally named Crocodilopolis, and was the center of worship of the crocodile god, Sobek. It appears that in ancient Medinet, crocodiles were adorned with gold and were fed honey cakes and meat by the priests.

A great stone obelisk was recently reconstructed and erected in Medinet. It was originally built in honor of Senusert I, in Abgig, during the 12 th Dynasty. It was discovered on the ground in two pieces in the 18 th century, and is now an
impressive landmark in Medinet.

Of particular interest in Fayoum are the Sawaqqies - huge, ancient waterwheels made of wood that still function there today, driven solely by the force of the stream. Approximately 200 of these waterwheels are located throughout the region. Mangos, palm trees and willows surround the Seven Waterwheels, a Fayoum landmark.

Fayoum offers a lovely pastoral area, rich in antiquities of the Middle Kingdom and Greco-Roman periods. Major points of interest include the pyramid complex of Amenhat III in Hawara; the Pyramid of Senusert II in Lahun; the ruins at Medinet Madi, Qasr Qaroun, and Karanis; and Kirn Oshim, a small museum displaying artifacts found throughout the area.

Fayoum is a popular vacation spot for both Egyptians and Europeans. Here, at the edge of the desert, you can sail, windsurf, swim and fish. There are also hot springs at Ain al-Siliyin, and waterfalls at Wadi al Rayan, suitable for swimming and picnics.

Wadi Al-Hitan

Wadi Hitan - Whales ValleyWhales Valley is a paleontological site in the Al Fayyum. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2005 for its hundreds of fossils of some of the earliest forms of whale, the archaeoceti (a now extinct sub-order of whales). The site reveals evidence for the explanation of one of the greatest mysteries of the evolution of whales: the emergence of the whale as an ocean-going mammal from a previous life as a land-based animal. No other place in the world yields the number, concentration and quality of such fossils, as is their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape. This is why it was added by the UNESCO to the list of protected World Heritage sites.

The fossils found at the site may not be the oldest but their great concentration in the area and the degree of their preservation is to the extent that even some stomach contents are intact. The presence of fossils of other early animals such as sharks, crocodiles, sawfish, turtles and rays found at Wadi El-Hitan makes it possible to reconstruct the surrounding environmental and ecological conditions of the time, adding to its justification to be cited as a Heritage site.

Contact Information

Stylish Holidays - Adventure Division

6 Madfaiaa Buildings, Beside City Stars
Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt
Tel: +20 2 26908570/71
Fax: +20 2 2418 3642
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