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.