The Fayoum and Wadi el-Rayan (SODTF01)

The Fayoum Oasis, Lake Qa’run and Wadi el Rayan are areas often overlooked by travellers to Egypt. However, a day in the Fayoum will provide you with a different view of the country and will give you an opportunity to see and enjoy some of the sights that Egyptians themselves enjoy visiting. You can also shop for inexpensive local crafts at the markets in Fayoum.

Lake Qaroun

Lake Qaroun

The Fayoum is located less than a hundred kilometers from Cairo and with its heritage of flora and archaeology, is one of the most beautiful and interesting regions of Egypt. It is a vast depression of about 18,000 square kilometers, originally a huge swamp fed by the Nile, with luxuriant vegetation and numerous animals, including many crocodiles.

Farmer in the Fayoum with his donkey

Farmer in the Fayoum with his donkey

Human intervention, beginning in the Middle Kingdom (ca 2100 to 1750 BC), profoundly modified the natural environment, making it suitable for the development of agriculture, which reached its peak in the Ptolemaic and Roman eras. However you can still see a great deal of farming life today, including the use of the famous shadouf and water wheels to distribute water. Also the Fayoum is partly an environmental reserve, growing native flora of forest trees and shrubs, and has excellent bird-watching opportunities. The Fayoum also has an incredible fossil reserve known as the Sea of Whales where you can see the fossilized whale skeletons in the sand. This trip however, requires a 4WD and is not included today.

Fayoum city has several large bazaars, mosques, baths and a much-frequented weekly market. The canal called Bahr Yussef runs through the city, its banks lined with houses. There are two bridges over the river: one of three arches, which carries the main street and bazaar, and one of two arches, over which is built the Qaitbay mosque, that was a gift from his wife to honor the Mamluk Sultan in Fayoum. Mounds north of the city mark the site of Arsinoe, known to the ancient Greeks as Crocodilopolis, where in ancient times the sacred crocodile kept in Lake Moeris was worshipped.

Water wheels in the centre of the city

Water wheels in the centre of the Medinet Fayoum

The center of the city is on the canal, with the four waterwheels, that are adopted by the governorate of Fayoum as its national symbol, their chariots and bazaars are easy to spot.

Lake Qaroun

Lake Qaroun

We will visit the great lake called Birket Qaroun which means “Lake of Horns”, which is home to a great many birds, including flamingoes in breeding season. Lake Qaroun is a popular swimming and relaxation destination for Cairenes in summer.

Pyramid of Amenemhet III at Hawarra

Pyramid of Amenemhet III at Hawarra

Al Fayoum is also rich in ancient Egyptian pyramids, including the pyramids of Fayoum, the pyramids of al Lahun and the pyramids of Hawara. As well there are monuments of other eras of Egyptian history, such as monasteries and temples, and the famous Fayoum portraits which date back to Graeco-Roman times, a number of which are on display at the Egyptian Museum. You will see one at the small museum at Kom Oshim.

Mummy portrait of bearded man

Mummy portrait of bearded man, encaustic on wood, Royal Museum of Scotland, 1911.210.1. Excavated at Hawara by William Flinders Petrie in 1911. Ref Ancient Faces, 1997, cat. no.22. (23 November 2007)

Finally you can enjoy the most interesting valley of Wadi-El Rayan where you can delight in the cataract and natural sightseeing, including taking a small boat ride in the Nile, getting a special cataract view.

Our tour will start at 7 am at your accommodation and we’ll have you back safe and sound a bit more than 12 hours later, depending on exactly what you see and how long you wish to linger at some of the sites, and the traffic of course. Hotel pickup may be a little earlier; you will be advised upon re-confirmation.

Around 7.00 am leave your accommodation and by about 9.00 am arrive in the Fayoum, visiting Lake Qaroun and the pyramids, Wadi el Rayan and other ancient Egyptian temples. Visit the small museum at Kom Oshim. Enjoy lunch. Somewhere around 6.00 pm we’ll be leaving the Fayoum, getting back to your accommodation by about 8.00 pm.

The tour operates daily at all times of the year.

All transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
Accommodation pick up and drop off
Entrance fees to sites visited
Egyptologist tour guide (who speaks your own language or English) who will assist you in making the most of your visit

Food and drink unless specified
Tips (recommended)
Your shopping
Any activity costs not mentioned in our programme

Things to note
– Some of these sites have uneven surfaces and sensible footwear is advised. Care should be taken when accessing any sites.
– Sunscreen, a hat and water are important. Most of our drivers carry water for sale at very reasonable prices.
– You may encounter souvenir salesmen; be polite but firm if you are not interested in purchasing. Ask your guide for assistance if necessary.
– If required, wheelchair accessibility should be discussed when booking as many places in Egypt are not easy with a chair and this will include some of today’s activities.
– Don’t forget your camera!!! Bring a spare battery and card – you’ll take lots of pictures of this beautiful and unique area.
– We’d really like your feedback so please let us know what you think of all aspects of your tour. You can find us on TripAdvisor at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g294201-d1832932-Reviews-Nile_Wave_Travel_Day_Tours-Cairo.html


A confirmation sheet will be sent to you upon booking with all details, including local telephone numbers for enquiries.

1 person – US$188 per person
2 – 4 people – US$118 per person
5 – 8 people – US$81 per person
9 -15 people – US$73 per person
Request a quote for 16+ people
Reduced costs for children 4-12, children under 3 free

Fishing boats at Lake Qaroun

Fishing boats at Lake Qaroun

Colourful baskets at the market at Fayoum

Colourful baskets at the market at Fayoum


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