Yes, winter is coming. But that just means traveling in Egypt only gets better, as with each season, the layers of destinations begin to unravel more, shedding its summer skin, and revealing to us its winter one. With Roam Egypt yet again striking a home run within their home country, Fayoum is definitely the next destination in this particular season. From camping in the desert with flavors of an Arabian dinner, getting lost in archaeological history throughout the landscape, to surfing the dunes of the desert, Fayoum never ceases to impress us.
Find out below the various things one should embark on when in Fayoum, and roam it like Roam Egypt!
Meaning “City of the Past,” Madinet Madi is situated approximately 35 km away from Medinet Al-Fayoum, guarding the southwestern entrance of Fayoum, and its archaeological treasures, along with its state of preservation, are one to be in awe of. Temples such as the Middle Kingdom temple lie frozen in time, with ancient hieroglyphic inscriptions sharing ancient stories from the 12th dynasty.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason, Wadi Al-Hitan, or Valley of the Whales, can be regarded as an open-air museum of colossal rare whales and shark fossils that date back to 40-50 million years. As the skeletons laid tucked away, hidden, and engulfed within the sands of the Western Desert, over time, with wind and erosion, the mighty giants of the past were exposed. Various archaeological excavations were conducted in the area, including the National Geographic Society, and in 2005, the site was officially declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The largest petrified forest in the world lays right in Fayoum, located north of Lake Qaroun. Home to fossilized trees reaching 40 meters high, the Petrified Forest includes remnants of trees that were a part of a forest around 35 million years old. With the trees perfectly petrified down to the last details, aquatic ferns, as well as marshy plants, can be seen here. Amongst the many reasons Fayoum is a top destination for many, the vivid geological formations and artifacts that await there are not to be missed.
Situated in the northwestern area of Fayoum, Qarun Lake is one of the oldest natural lakes globally and the third largest one within Egypt. The area around the lake consists of a rich history of geological formations, many groups of plants, migratory birds, and mammal fossils as old as 10 million years. In 1989, Qarun Lake was declared as a protected area, given its historical significance.
The Museum of Kom Aushim
Near the ruins of Karanis, the Ptolemaic town, you’ll find the Kom Aushim Museum, filled with artifacts that illustrate the lives, as well as funerary practices, of inhabitants of the area throughout ancient times. Built in 1974, the museum consists of two floors, showcasing exhibitions from the Prehistoric-era, the Greek-Roman era, the Coptic era, and the Islamic era.
One of Egypt’s most spectacular nature reserves, Wadi Al-Rayan was named after King Rayan Ibn El Walid who once resided in the area, along with his army. Within the national park, you’ll find natural gems that align with every mood. From the El Rayan Springs, the El Rayan Falls, and the El Rayan Mountain, the entire landscape never fails to smite us at each corner. As for wildlife, you might even stumble upon some sand foxes and white gazelles, and much more!
Widan Al-Faras quarry road
For an authentic desert adventure in Fayoum, look no further than the basalt quarry road of Widan Al Faras. This quarry was once used during the Old Kingdom as a source of basalt for their pyramid temples, and hundreds of the blocks are still visible till today, where they were stored near the quarries, and within the harbor area. Together with the quarries, the harbor, and the storage area, it forms a unique archaeological site, the earliest paved road known in history that stretches 12 km long.
Qasr El Sagha Temple
Hiding away just north of Lake Qaroun lies the Qasr El Sagha Temple, a temple that was lost and rediscovered in 1884, and blends into the hills that stand behind it. Made from limestone blocks of various sizes, it is believed that the temple was constructed no later than the Middle Kingdom. In addition, several prehistoric villages can be seen towards the south side of El Sagha.
This small yet mesmerizing village lies in the oasis of Fayoum, high up on a hill and in the direction towards Wadi Rayan. Tunis is known for its serene and tranquil atmosphere, in addition to the traditional and eco-friendly rural buildings all around the village. Horseback riding, biking, and the annual handcrafts festival are just some of the many activities you can immerse yourself in whilst in Tunis Village, and you’ll thank us when you do!
Sandboarding & Magic Lake
Just 2-3 hours away from Cairo, your surfer dreams await you with Fayoum’s endless dunes that your feet sink into with every step, slowly engulfing you within the depths of its comfort. Suitable for all levels, experienced or not, sandboarding in Fayoum remains to be a top activity for many, as well as a sight to the eyes as you witness from atop the dunes, Fayoum’s Magic Lake within Wadi Rayan National Park. Catch an unforgettable sunset as you stand tall on the dunes around the lake and for those who need the full experience up-close, make sure to enjoy a swim as well. Magic Lake was given its name due to its color-changing many times a day, depending on both the amount of sunlight and the time of year.
Watch the full episode here by Roam Egypt on Fayoum: