Wadi Rayyan Protected Area

Al Fayoum

The 'waterfalls' in the Wadi Rayyan Protected Area are a major attraction for weekend picnickers from Cairo. The waterfalls, where one lake drains into another, are about 20km away from the reserve's gate, on the left side of the road. Along the lakefront is a visitors centre, toilets and some cafes. From here, big wooden rowboats take, for about LE50 to LE75, a one-hour trip out to the middle of the lake and then back up close to the falls.

The wider Wadi Rayyan area is rich in wildlife, including white gazelles, Egyptian gazelles, sand foxes and fennec foxes, as well as rare species of resident birds, migrant birds and various kinds of eagles and falcons. It's well worth exploring this fascinating area further. Five kilometres further along the road from the lake turn off is the rocky outcrop of Jabal Al Modawara, fairly easy to climb and a great place to spot eagles or falcons.

In the 1960s, Egyptian authorities created three lakes in the Wadi Rayyan depression, southwest of Lake Qarun, to hold excess water from agricultural drainage. This was intended to be the first step in an ambitious land-reclamation project, though not everything went to plan when the water started to become increasingly brackish. On the bright side, these man-made lakes became particularly conducive to large colonies of birds, leading to the entire depression being administered as a national park.

Wadi Al Hittan (officially part of the Wadi Rayyan Protected Area) is reached by taking the signposted turn off just past Jabal Al Modawara.

You can camp here for LE15 per night.