Fayoum Oasis Tour - Paradise in the Desert

Join Our Wonderful Tour to the Fayoum Oasis

Embark with us on a one-day Fayoum oasis tour, during which you will travel beyond the vibrant city of Cairo and see the peaceful El Fayoum oasis in the desert. Fayoum is one of the most famous and largest oases in North Africa. It is situated 130 km southeast of Cairo and is located in a shallow depression. The water is brought to Fayoum oasis by the Bahr Yussef canal, 24 km (15 miles) in length, which was built in antiquity. Unlike typical oases, whose fertility depends on water obtained from springs, the farmland in Fayoum consists of Nile mud brought along by the canal.

On our Fayoum oasis day trip, you'll see three oasis attractions, the most notable of which is the Valley of the Whales (Wadi El Hitan). This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to an incredible collection of fossils that offer a glimpse into our planet's rich history. From the ancient whales that once roamed these lands, to the stunning desert landscapes, the Valley of the Whales is a must-see destination for any adventurer and history buff on our Fayoum oasis tour.
As a part of our Fayoum oasis tour you will also visit the Wadi Hitan Fossil and Climate Change Museum, which features the largest intact Basilosaurus and a unique collection of fossils not found anywhere else in the world. Wadi El Hitan was transformed through climate change from sea to a hyper-arid desert through millions of years. The museum aims to educate visitors about climate change and raise awareness about preventing its negative effects on the environment and people.

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The second attraction you will see during the Fayoum Oasis tour is Qasr Qarun temple. Qasr Qarun temple is located on the southwestern side of Lake Qaroun and it dates back to the Greco-Roman Era. The temple is a testimony to the cult of the crocodile god Sobek and associated divinities.This temple hosts a spectacular event called the sun festival, known as the 'wonder of the sun' - once a year. Every December 21st, the sun's rays beam down inside the temple, which is usually shrouded in darkness. This then lights up the inner sanctuary as if by magic. This date marks the start of the winter solstice. A similar phenomenon occurs twice a year in the temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel, but at different times.

The third and final attraction on the tour to Fayoum Oasis is a stop at the Magic Lake, Egypt, which is one of several lakes at Fayoum oasis. This lake is both beautiful and amazing at the same time. It is located a short distance from Wadi el Rayan and is surrounded by dunes. The water of the magic lake, Egypt changes color depending on the light shining on it during the day. This is a great place for a photo shoot. Capturing only the desert, water and the shining sun.

The Fayoum Oasis day trip is part of our 14 days in Egypt tour. On our luxury tours in Egypt: 10 day tour of Egypt and 8 day Egypt tour, the Fayoum Oasis tour can be booked as a 1-day add-on for a standard arrival day.

Join our oasis tour and see stunning nature and a magnificent ancient temple. Fayum Oasis is the gateway to the Libyan Desert, occupying the eastern part of the Sahara. You will only meet a few tourists there, so your Fayoum Oasis day trip will be quiet and pleasant, giving you an interesting desert experience.

 

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Fayoum’s Oasis History

Fayoum Oasis is a quiet, green place. The shores of Lake Qarun are overgrown with palm groves in which rare species of birds live, and there are arable fields and gardens all around. Thanks to this, the oasis became known as the "Gardens of Egypt".

Fayoum (Al-Fayyum) is one of the largest oases in Egypt, located on the left bank of the Nile, 130 km southwest of Cairo. It is separated from the river by a narrow strip of desert. The main source of water in the oasis is Lake Qarun (Birkat Karun/Buhayrat Qarun), located in the northern part and fed by the waters of the Nile through the Joseph Canal (Bahr Jusuf/Bahr Yussef). Initially, Lake Qarun was only filled with water during the floods of the Nile. However, the rulers of the 12th dynasty (20th-18th centuries BC) decided to use them to grow the economy of Egypt and widened and desludged the Joseph Canal. Meaning, the lake became a water reserve, and the floods of the Nile could be controlled. Soon Fayoum became fertile farmland.
Today, there are not only date and palm groves and fruit orchards, there are numerous fields where grain and cotton are grown. The water is distributed around the oasis through small channels fed by small springs. It is thanks to them that this area is constantly green.

The unique characteristic of Fayoum is the numerous waterfalls that cannot be found anywhere else in Egypt. They were created due to the difference in levels between two artificial reservoirs created in recent years, connected by a canal. They were to facilitate the development of new areas. Thanks to this, the deserted Wadi el-Rayan valley has become the second resting place in an oasis, next to the shores of Lake Karun.

The Fayum Oasis is also famous for its original handicrafts. Braided carpets, hand-made strings of clay and painted beads or baskets woven from palm leaves and rice stalks are a perfect souvenir from the area.

Pottery is also popular. Workshops where unique clay vessels, both decorative and functional, are created by hand or on wheels can be found everywhere. In order to maintain and make this local tradition famous, in the mid-1990s, two Swedish potters founded the Fayoum Pottery School in the small town of Tunis (on the western shore of Lake Qarun). Soon the place became a busy production center full of workshops selling unique clay pots, figurines and sculptures.

On Tuesdays, in the main city of the Fayoum oasis, there is a market where you can buy all the local produce. The Egyptians also used broken pots to put into the walls of dovecotes, which in Fayoum and all over Egypt take the form of tall clay towers with holes through which birds fly in.

The first historical mentions of the existence of the Fayoum oasis come from the reign of Menes, also known as Narmer (turn of the 3rd and 4th millennium BC). The capital of the oasis was then Shedyt, which was then called Crocodilopolis, Arsinoe, and now Fayoum. The region's development was possible thanks to the rulers of the XII Dynasty, who opened the Joseph Canal, which allowed the use of the periodic Lake Karun in the Egyptian economy. They also visited the oasis and built pyramids and tombs in El-Lahun and Hawara. However, the most interesting tombs in Fayoum date back to Roman rule (1st century BC - 7th century AD), when the corpse was not only embalmed but also decorated with realistic images of the deceased. These mummy images, painted on clay tablets, are called Fayoum portraits.

Fayoum city

Progressive urbanization and industry have made the oasis capital of Fayoum lose much of its former small-town charm. However, in the surrounding villages, full of mud brick houses, fields and donkeys dozing in the shade, not much has changed since the days of the pharaohs.

The city of Fayoum is called the Venice miniature. This was due to numerous bridges spread over the Joseph Canal, the main waterway of the city and smaller ones that bring water to farmland. Fayoum is an ideal base for exploring the oasis. All roads cross in the center of this city, which had three names in the past. The Egyptians called it Shedyt, and the Greeks called it Krokodilopolis ("Crocodile City") or Arsinoe, after Ptolemy II's sister.

The ruins of the ancient capital are located in the northern part of Fayoum and are called Kiman Faris. Few of the buildings have survived to this day. One of the most interesting objects is undoubtedly the sacred lake, which was inhabited by crocodiles, cult animals of the patron of the city - the god Sobek. Such lakes were an inseparable element of temple complexes. They were artificial or natural reservoirs, fed with water from the Nile or underground springs. The crocodiles living in the temple in Fayoum lived in "luxurious" conditions - they were fed with meat and honey cakes and decorated with golden necklaces.

There is an obelisk in the middle of one of the crossings near the ruins. It is a high granite stele, carved by the order of Pharaoh Senuseret I (19th century BC). However, the text on it is so blurred that few characters can be read.

The city's attraction, and at the same time the symbol of the entire oasis of Fayoum, are water wheels. The four colossi are located in the very center, right behind the tourist information point. Seven more, smaller wheels are located along the three-kilometer-long Sinnuris Canal. The first wooden water wheels were introduced in the oasis during the reign of Ptolemy (3rd-1st century BC), who thus decided to improve agriculture. The wheels carried water from the lower levels to the higher farmland. Currently, there are around 200 water wheels in the entire oasis. We won't see these anywhere else in Egypt. The way they work has remained the same since ancient times, only the material used to make them has changed, today they are mainly made from steel. Arabs call the wheels saqia. The inhabitants of Fayoum are proud of them because they represent the oasis' great agricultural traditions.

Fayoum has something for everyone, from its beautiful, lush marshes, with an abundant  wildlife and huge numbers of migratory birds, to the amazing waterfalls. You can visit the modern city or the local villages, where time has stood still. Local produce and handicrafts are the perfect gifts to take home to remind you of your time in this amazing city.

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Which tours include a visit to the Fayoum Oasis?

The Fayoum Oasis tour is included in our Around in Egypt itinerary in 14 days (14 Days in Egypt Tour). For our other tours such as the Exploring Egypt (10 Day Tour of Egypt) and the Golden Highlights of Egypt (8 Day Egypt Tour) a Fayoum Oasis day trip can be added as a customized option. It's easy to join us on our tour to Fayoum Oasis, and a visit to Fayoum Oasis is not to be missed! All you need to do when booking your trip to Egypt is to mark your participation in the FAYOUM: 1-DAY ADD-ON in the EXTENSION section of the Pre-Tour. This tour requires an extra night at a hotel in Cairo. You can easily add the extra night of accommodation for the tour to Fayoum Oasis before the tour starts via our booking system.

Take advantage of our Fayoum Oasis tour when you are on holiday in Egypt. Embark on a journey of discovery with our tour to Fayoum Oasis. Experience breathtaking landscapes, ancient history, and warm hospitality in just one trip!

 

Are there any extra costs or fees associated with this trip?

The cost of our Fayoum Oasis tour is included in the final price of the Around Egypt in 14 days tour. During our 14-day tour of Egypt the participants of our Fayoum Oasis day trip do not incur any additional costs or fees.

However, for our other Egypt tours, the cost of the Fayoum Oasis day trip (Fayoum: 1-day add-on) organized on a standard arrival day (Day 1) is $375 per person. This fee is added to the final price of the trip to Egypt. One additional hotel night in Cairo is required for this tour and this must be booked prior to the Egypt main tour. You can easily add this when booking the Fayoum Oasis tour through our booking system.

Visiting the Fayoum Oasis is a must do, when in Egypt. It's where you can see the Valley of the Whales (Wadi El Hitan) - UNESCO World Heritage Site and ancient temple, the beautiful Magic Lake and amazing desert.

Don't miss your chance to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime trip on our tour to Fayoum Oasis! Join us on our Egypt desert oasis tour, where the past comes alive, and you'll get to feel like an explorer embarking on a thrilling quest. Book your place now, and prepare to embark on an adventure that will leave you breathless and forever transformed.

Can you customize your own tours?

Inside Egypt allows our clients to customize the Fayoum Oasis tour to suit their individual needs and wishes. You can choose completely different highlights on your tour than those we propose in our group Fayoum Oasis day trip. There are many attractions and activities that the Fayoum Oasis is famous for, such as a felucca cruise on Lake Fayoum, sandboarding, horse and camel riding and  learning pottery at a ceramics factory in Tunis village. You can also see various interesting places in the oasis, such as the Wadi el-Rayan waterfalls, Karanis city, the fifteenth-century Asil Beya mosque, the Pyramid of Hawara, the Pyramid of El Lahon, the Pyramid of Meidum, and many more.

You don't have to limit yourself to one day on our tour to Fayoum Oasis. You can spend up to two or three days at El Fayoum Oasis. There are more than enough attractions to fill your time on our Fayoum Oasis tour.

If you are interested in a private tour to the Oasis of Fayoum or Egypt desert oasis tours, please contact our Egypt travel specialists through our Egypt Private Tours website. We will be happy to get you booked on!

What will you see during this day trip?

During our Fayoum Oasis tour you will discover an even more amazing and fascinating side of ancient Egypt. The isolated Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley) is an open-air museum in Fayoum Oasis where you can see giant ancient whale fossils, showing that 40 to 50 million years ago this area was filled with water, known as the Tethys Sea.

The fossilized skeletons, buried in the sands of the Western Desert, were uncovered by wind and erosion and also through numerous studies sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the University of Michigan. The valley's landscape is as impressive as the discovery itself: giant rocks and sand mountains, dunes and hills.
Whale Valley is part of the Wadi el-Rayan Protected Area that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 for its natural beauty and scientific importance.

Another highlight of our Fayoum Oasis day trip is the Ptolemaic-era temple, Qasr Qarun (Qarun Palace) dedicated to the god Sobek. In Egyptian mythology, Sobek was the guardian of lakes and water, the army's patron, and was a symbol of royal power. He was depicted as a man with the head of a crocodile, sometimes as a crocodile with the head of a falcon, lion, bull, ram or jackal, or just as a crocodile. The Egyptians believed that the more crocodiles there were in the Nile, the better the harvest would be after the river flooded. Sobek was associated with the sun god Ra as one of his souls.
Outside Lake Fayum Oasis, Sobek was worshiped in Kom Ombo, Armant, Philae, and Abusir.

The third highlight of our Fayoum Oasis tour is the Magic Lake, Egypt. Located a short distance from the Tunis village in Fayoum Oasis. It is a beautiful place surrounded by dunes and sandy hills created by the wind. The views of the lake are breathtaking. It is an ideal spot for sandboarding, camping and an amazing photo shoot. Just a lake, dunes, and sun, what more do you need on your visit to the Fayoum Oasis?

Take an Egypt oasis tour and see part of the great El Fayoum Oasis. Experience desert adventure, ancient history and beautiful nature on our Fayoum Oasis tour.

Can you swim in this oasis?

Most of the lakes in el Fayoum Oasis used to be freshwater lakes, but are now saltwater. This is the case of the largest lake in Fayoum Oasis, Lake Qarun (Lake Fayoum).
The water in the lakes in the Fayoum Oasis is not polluted, as evidenced by the large population of fish in Lake Qarun. You can also swim in the lake, just like many Egyptians do. Unfortunately, there are no well-maintained beaches by the lakes with sunbeds, umbrellas, toilets, a changing room or a shower with fresh water. There is only nature itself. The lack of these amenities makes swimming in the lakes of the Fayoum Oasis much less comfortable than you would like.
However, you can walk along the shores of the Fayoum Oasis lakes and wade in the water. It is very pleasant and relaxing and is something that we recommend on our Egypt desert oasis tours.

However, we do advise against entering the water in the channels that bring water from the Nile to the farmland at el Fayoum Oasis.

What should I bring on the Fayoum Oasis Day Trip?

We have put together some basic tips based on experiences from our Egypt desert oasis tours. We have spoken to our guests and our knowledgeable guides and have come up with a number of recommendations that will help prevent you from making the mistakes that some travelers make when joining our Fayoum Oasis tour.

You won't find here a list of specialty travel shops you should visit before going on a desert adventure or Fayoum Oasis tour. We do not encourage you to buy things that may only be useful once.

Take a look in your wardrobe first - We are sure you have most of the things on this list there:

First of all, shoes with thick soles are obligatory. It's good if the shoes are sturdy with support for your ankles as this will be useful when entering dunes or in rocky parts of the desert. However, you should not go to the other extreme and take heavy hiking boots with you - it will be hot and very uncomfortable in them. Include long, thick socks - they will prevent abrasions and getting sand everywhere.
Bright, light, breathable clothes, e.g. thin cotton are perfect for our Fayoum Oasis tour. They often work better than expensive, "technical" clothing. The main thing is that they are bright and airy.
Long sleeves and long pants as they effectively protect against the sun, against sand, insects, against prickly branches, etc. on the tour to Fayoum Oasis.
Head protection is useful in the hot sun of the Fayoum Oasis - a light airy cap or a cotton scarf (e.g. a sarong). The scarf is very useful as a protection for the neck, which is often forgotten in Egypt. You can also cover your face with it when the wind blows with sand. Similar functions are perfectly performed by thin buffs covering your neck and mouth.
Warm clothes for the evening - it can get quite chilly on the Fayoum Oasis tour: fleece/softshell, windbreaker jacket, especially if you are going on a Fayoum Oasis day trip in early spring or winter.

Sunglasses, a small backpack in which there should be a high-filter suncream, tissues and a camera to capture memories will also come in handy during the tour to Fayoum Oasis.

Follow our advice for your comfort and convenience and enjoy your tour to Fayoum Oasis.

What is the best time to visit this oasis?

A tour to Fayoum Oasis in the summer could be better, because the temperature at that time reaches over 35 degrees Celsius. Every Egyptian will grab his head at such an idea. However, the timing is perfect for a Fayoum Oasis tour  in late fall, winter and early spring.
In December, for example, the average temperature is around 22 degrees. Of course, you should also remember about the temperature differences between day and night at this time of year, as the nighttime temperatures can be cold in the desert.

We believe the best time for a Fayoum Oasis tour is from November to the end of March. It is warm and sunny, but not hot at this time of year. The weather is conducive to visiting the attractions of the El Fayoum Oasis, which are located mainly in the open air.

The seasons in Egypt offer a wide variety of weather, from the hot sunshine in the Red Sea resorts, to the cold evenings in the desert. If you are planning a holiday in Egypt and a tour to Fayoum Oasis, find out when is the best time to visit Egypt and join us on a  oasis tour.

What kind of transportation is provided for this day trip?

During the Fayoum Oasis tour we will travel on types of transport: coach and jeep. We will leave the hotel in Cairo by a comfortable coach. After just over an hour of travel, in the Tunis village of el Fayoum Oasis, we will change to an air-conditioned 4-wheel drive jeep. The jeep can accommodate four passengers in addition to the driver. During this tour we will travel by jeep to Qasr Qarun Temple, Whale Valley and Magic Lake. After visiting the attractions at Fayoum Oasis, you will transfer back to our coach in the village of Tunis before returning to your hotel at the end of our tour to Fayoum Oasis.

A jeep trip through the desert on our Fayoum Oasis tour will be an unforgettable adventure and will remain in your memory for years. However, a dynamic jeep ride on the hills and desert dunes can be full of movement, so we recommend eating a light breakfast before the journey to avoid travel sickness during the tour to Fayoum Oasis. For people who generally suffer from motion sickness, we suggest that you take appropriate medications before starting the Fayoum Oasis day trip.

Will we visit Magic Lake?

The Magic Lake in Fayoum Oasis, Egypt is a unique and mesmerizing water reservoir. Located more than 100 km southwest of Cairo, this natural wonder is known for its crystal clear aquamarine color that is so pure and vibrant, it seems almost unreal. The lake itself is located at the center of the fertile Fayoum Oasis, and its beauty and extraordinary landscape make it one of the region's most popular tourist attractions that can be visited on our Fayoum Oasis tour.

As you approach the Magic Lake, its colors become more vivid, from intense turquoise to deep blue that blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. One of the most fascinating aspects of the lake's magical appearance is how its color changes throughout the day as the sun travels across the sky. In the harsh light of the midday sun, the colors of Egypt's Magic Lake, are at their most intense, and the water seems luminous and almost out of this world. As evening approaches, the colors change again, becoming softer, more subdued, reflecting the fading daylight.

Although swimming in the magical lake is allowed, we do not encourage you to swim in it. The lake is fed by underground waters mixed with irrigation water for the fields. When visiting the Magic Lake on a Fayoum Oasis day trip, travelers can take advantage of the various activities offered in its area, such as horseback riding, camel riding, and even sandboarding. These activities allow visitors to explore the vast expanse of the oasis while admiring the landscapes around them.

The Egypt's Magic Lake, is a natural wonder that should be noticed on a Fayoum Oasis tour. With its breathtaking surroundings and amazing landscape, this beautiful place provides an unforgettable experience.

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