Faiyum, also transliterated as Fayyum, Fayum, Fayoum etc., is often referred to as an oasis, though technically it is watered not by springs but by the Nile via hundreds of capillary canals, many dug in ancient times.

Lake Qarun Protected Area

Lake Qarun is a tranquil saltwater lake on the edge of the desert covering approximately 214 square kilometers (135 square miles); at its widest point Lake Qarun stretches 40 kilometers (25 miles).

In 1983, Lake Qarun was recognized as a wetland of international importance and declared a Protected Area by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA).

Wadi al-Hitan UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Wadi al-Hitan, or Valley of the Whales, is named after the ancient whale skeletons that were found on the surface of the desert. These spectacular, 40-million-year-old remains are reminders that the entire area was once covered by a giant inland sea. The Wadi al-Hitan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley) (UNESCO/NHK)

Wadi al-Rayan Protected Area

The Wadi al-Rayan—declared a Protected Area in 1989— covers approximately 1800 square kilometers (700 square miles) and is an important nesting ground for both resident and migratory birds. Nestled into the thick reeds between the Upper and the Lower Lake, the Wadi al-Rayan also is home of Egypt’s only natural waterfalls.