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Exploring Wadi El Rayan (El Rayan Valley) Protected Area, Egypt

Updated on February 28, 2020
Emmy ali profile image

Eman is living in Egypt. She loves to write about nature and historical places in Egypt as well as many other topics.

Wadi Al Rayan Protected Area

Waterfall of Wadi Al Rayan.
Waterfall of Wadi Al Rayan. | Source

Al Fayoum Governorate

Green fields along the way to Wadi Al Rayan Protected Area.
Green fields along the way to Wadi Al Rayan Protected Area. | Source

The Location of Wadi Al Rayan Reserve


Wadi El Rayan is one of the largest reserves in Egypt and the most important in terms of scientific value and the great diversity of natural life after Ras Mohammad Protected Area. The valley of al-Rayan is located 150 km southwest of Cairo, two hours from Giza pyramids, and 40 km from Fayoum city.

The valley is 43 meters below sea level. Due to its decline, it was decided at the beginning of the 1970s to use it to drain part of the agricultural drainage water in Fayoum Governorate.

The project was implemented in 1973 by digging an open channel of about 9 km which connected to a tunnel of 8.5 km in length and a diameter of 3 meters.

This led to the formation of two artificial lakes: the Upper Lake and the Lower Lake. The valley receives about 250 million cubic meters of agricultural drainage water annually, representing one-third of the agricultural drainage of Fayoum Governorate.

The formation of the two lakes led to the emergence of new species of plants as well as the migration of new species of mammals and birds to the valley.

Currently, there are more than 15 species of wild animals as white deer, Egyptian gazelle, fennec fox, and sand fox in Wadi El Rayan. It also includes 16 species of reptiles and more than a hundred species of birds the most important of which are the Shaheen falcon, the white heron, the gray heron, the flamingo, as well as the gulls. The valley also includes types of desert plants such as acacia and Pine.

Fennec Fox


Fox fennec is an endangered animal. It is the smallest species of canid (A mammal of Dog Family, Canidae) in the world. It weighs about 0.7-1.6 kg with large pointed ears, native to the deserts of North Africa and Arabia.

The Egyptian government has declared Wadi El Rayan Nature Reserve in 1989. The protected area covers 1,759 square kilometers.

Wadi El Rayan Protected Area is under the supervision of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency. The Egyptian-Italian project was started in March 1998 to support the protected area. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) provides technical assistance to the project.

Al Rayan Valley main attractions:

  1. The Upper Lake.
  2. The lower Lake.
  3. Waterfalls Area.
  4. Jabal Al Madwera.
  5. The area of Oyoun Al Rayan.
  6. Mountain Manqueer Al Rayan.
  7. Wadi Al Hitan (Whale Valley).

Wadi Al Rayan

The Upper Lake of Wadi Al Rayan.
The Upper Lake of Wadi Al Rayan.

1- The Upper Lake

It covers an area of 65 square kilometers and is located in Masakhet Valley. It rises about 20 meters over the lower lake. Its salinity is about 1.5 g / L and its maximum depth is 22 m.

Wadi Al Rayan

The Iower Lake of Wadi Al Rayan.
The Iower Lake of Wadi Al Rayan.

2- The Iower Lake

The Lower Lake is about 100 square kilometers. Its salinity is higher than the upper lake, about 2.5 g / L and its maximum depth is 34 m.

Fishing is allowed in Wadi Al Rayan Lakes.

Wadi Al Rayan

Waterfalls Area.
Waterfalls Area.

Wadi Al Rayan

Waterfall of Wadi Al Rayan.
Waterfall of Wadi Al Rayan. | Source

Wadi Al Rayan

Waterfalls Area.
Waterfalls Area. | Source

3- Waterfalls Area

The waterfalls area is 20 km from the gate of the protected area.

It is the area that connects the Upper Lake and the Lower Lake. It lies in the Valley of the Kosymat. The area includes three waterfalls, a region of great beauty.

There are many recreational activities in the waterfalls region such as horse and camel riding as well as golf courses.

There are more than three restaurants and an eco-tourism camp in the waterfalls area.

Wadi Al Rayan Reserve

Jabal Al Madwera.
Jabal Al Madwera.

4- Jabal Al Madwera

Jabal Al Madwera is located about 5 km away from the waterfalls near the lower lake. Jabal Al Madwera is a high hill in the form of a circle, which is bordered on the other side by three hills. Water flows between them in the shape of a tongue from the lake. This hill can be easily climbed to see the most beautiful landscapes of the protected area as well as bird swarms.

Wadi Al Rayan Protected Area

Oyoun Al Rayyan Area.
Oyoun Al Rayyan Area.

5- Oyoun Al Rayan

Oyoun El Rayan is located southwest of the LowerLake. It is a wide sand dune with three natural sulfur springs. The area is characterized by a variety of desert plants and rare wild animals.

You can enjoy sand skiing in the Oyoun al- Rayan area.

Saker Falcon (Falco Cherrug).


Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) is a large species of hawks. These species breed in Eastern Europe and South Asia. They migrate in winter to Ethiopia, the desert of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, northern Pakistan, and western China.

6- Manqueer Al Rayan Area

Mountain Manqueer Al Rayan Area is at the south and south-west of Oyoun al-Rayan where different types of migratory birds and residents such as Shaheen falcon as well as some marine fossils.

Wadi Al Hitan

Wadi Al Hitan Protected Area Located in Wadi Al Rayan

A Whale skeleton.
A Whale skeleton. | Source

7- Wadi El Hitan (The Whale Valley)

Wadi Al Hitan is about 30 km far from Jabal Al Madwera and covers an area of 1759 km2.

The site reveals evidence for the explanation of the mysteries of the evolution of whales from a previous life as a land-based animal to the whale as an ocean-going mammal.

The Whale valley contains more than high quality 400 fossils of whales skeletons and other marine animals that have lived in the area for more than 40 million years ago and their evolution over time from terrestrial animals to marine animals.

It also has fossils for mangrove trees and endangered animals such as white deer and Red fox, as well as rare birds such as Saker falcon.

The Whale Valley has places to camp, very clean bathrooms, corridors and explanatory plates to the fossils.

Wadi Al Hitan

Whale Valley museum.
Whale Valley museum.

Wadi al-Hitan includes a museum designed and built in keeping with the nature of the valley. The museum includes a collection of fossils collected from the valley, restored and displayed in the museum. There are officials to explain each part of the museum. It also contains a viewing room where a 12-minute film is presented to explain how the fossils are discovered and extracted in Arabic and English languages.

In 2005 the Whale Valley has been added to the list of protected World Heritage sites by UNESCO.

Wadi Al Hitan

Whale Valley camping site.
Whale Valley camping site.

More Information

  • Wadi El Rayyan is open every day from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.
  • Ticket prices of El Rayan Valley are EGP 2 for Egyptians, EGP 5 for the car and USD 3 for tourists.
  • Camping ticket prices of El Rayan Valley per night for Egyptian or foreign tourists 10 Egyptian pounds.
  • Whale Valley ticket price for the individual Egyptian 5 Egyptian pounds, 5 pounds for the car and 40 Egyptian pounds for non-Egyptians.
  • Camping ticket price per night in the Valley of the whales for the Egyptian individual is 10 Egyptian pounds and the foreign is 80 pounds.

Wadi Al Hitan

Whale Valley museum.
Whale Valley museum.

Some Precautions Should be Taken to be Safe When Roaming Around Wadi Al Rayan Reserve

  1. Try to get a map of the protected area that is distributed free of charge on the main gate of the protector area, showing the roads and gates.
  2. Try to commit to the main roads within the reserve and the guidelines.
  3. Request the information from the researchers of the reserve at the gates.
  4. Try to have enough food.
  5. Make sure the tank is full of gasoline in your car.
  6. Have a first-aid bag, a protective sun hat, and an umbrella.
  7. Write down the phone number of protected emergency.
  8. A person is notified of your movements due to the disruption of the telephone network in the desert.

© 2019 Eman Abdallah Kamel


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    Post Comment
    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      12 months ago from Egypt

      Thank you very much, Lorna. Wadi Al Rayyan protected area is very beautiful and important, worth visiting and studying as well. You are very welcome.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      12 months ago

      This is a really informative article with wonderful photos, and definitely a must see on my list. Thank you for sharing.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      15 months ago from Egypt

      Thanks a lot, Marjun, for this kind comment. You are very welcome.

    • Millionaire I am profile image

      Marjun Angolluan Canceran 

      15 months ago from Saudi Arabia

      Wow!. I've been here in 2016. I was extremely amazed to see a waterfalls in the desert! I guess, I'm going to write about my experience there and how kind Egyptians were.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      15 months ago from Egypt

      Thanks, Mohan Babu, for reading the article and comment. Indeed Al Rayan protected area is an amazing place. You are very welcome.

    • Babu Mohan profile image

      Mohan Babu 

      15 months ago from Chennai, India

      Al Rayan protected area looks to be a worthy place to visit. The lakes, wildlife and the desert look amazing. The whale valley where skeletal remains of whales are found is very interesting too.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      16 months ago from Egypt

      @ It's my pleasure, Linda. Thank you very much and I always appreciate your visit.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      16 months ago from Egypt

      @ Thank you very much, alikhan3 and you are very welcome.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      16 months ago from Egypt

      @ Thanks so much, Liz. Indeed Wadi Al Rayan is an amazing place. Sure water is so important.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      16 months ago from Egypt

      @ It's my pleasure, Lindacee. Thanks and you are very welcome.

    • Emmy ali profile imageAUTHOR

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      16 months ago from Egypt

      @ Thank you very much, Mr. Holland. Yes, the vast majority of those who visit Egypt focus only on pyramids and other pharaonic monuments. I agree with you that the nature reserves in Egypt are no less important than the ancient ruins.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      16 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for a very interesting look at places in your country, Eman. This is an educational and enjoyable article.

    • alikhan3 profile image


      16 months ago from Karachi, Pakistan

      Maybe, If I visit Egypt someday, I will add this place to the list.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      16 months ago from UK

      This is a very interesting and well-illustrated article. It looks like an amazing place i would add water to my checklist, only because I once heard of people who got stuck in some sand in a game park. Fortunately they got out, but they realised that they had forgotten to take water with them.

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      16 months ago from Arizona

      Wow, what a beautiful nature preserve. There's one gorgeous view after another. I would like to add that location to my bucket list!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm sure the pyramids are spectacular, but this area you have showcased appeals to me much more. Beautiful place, and I thank you for the tour.


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