Stargazing in an impeccably transparent skyline, exploring the remarkable surrounding nature and trips to amazing geological and historical sights, are some of the options available to visitors to Fayoum.  At a time when other tourist destinations have suffered due to various reasons, Fayoum, with its close proximity to Cairo and its numerous attractions, has recently emerged as a top tourist destination in Egypt. eniGma’s Mahmoud Al Badry sat down with Mohab Al Naggar, founder of Saharina, an agency specializing in organizing safari trips, to discuss Fayoum’s uniquely enchanting beauty.

Wadi Hitan
Wadi El Hitan, Photography by Samy Fares

A mere 10 years ago, Fayoum was not considered a major tourist destination.  Indeed, as Al Naggar recalls, “people looked at me as if I was crazy when I told them that I was going to Fayoum in 2007.” Flash forward to today and it has become one of the more popular destinations in Egypt. There are several reasons behind this change in Fayoum’s ranking among other Egyptian destinations, of course, but in the end, Fayoum’s popularity seems to have risen significantly and its attractions are being noticed. It is actually one of the oldest cities in the world, and the area contains a fascinating mixture of desert and greenery, as well as the beautiful lake Karoun, where Egypt’s King Farouk used to vacation and hunt. The contrast in the variety of natural landscapes is truly the bedrock of the beauty for which Fayoum is known.

Katrani Mountain, Photography by Samy Fares

When it comes to historical sites, Fayoum features a number of destinations that span the city’s Pharaonic, Christian, and Islamic eras.  Having been a vacation home for multiple rulers throughout the years, the city’s heritage is extremely diverse. Wadi El Hitan, the Valley of the Whales, is a major geological attraction, containing remains dating thousands of years, indicating that the area was immersed under water in much earlier times. The world’s oldest road, used to transport gold to other countries as early as the Pharaonic era, has also been identified in Fayoum’s vicinity. According to Al Naggar, “the geological and aesthetic value of these remains can’t be overstated. People don’t quite grasp the importance of having such an important area within Egypt.”

Zelal El Nakhil
Zelal Al Nakhil, Photography by Mohab Al Naggar

Despite this hugely impressive history, visitors flock to Fayoum mainly to enjoy its natural beauty. The diversity of nature around Fayoum is incredible. On the top of the list are the amazing waterfalls of Wadee El Rayyan, the beautifully coloured volcanic structure of Katrani Mountain, and of course, the incredible mystical and aptly named Magic Lake. Fayoum is also a bird watcher’s paradise, with thousands of birds migrating there annually. Al Naggar remarks, “people are always amazed and ask me, ‘are we really in Egypt?’  What’s also interesting is that everything you want to see is a mere 10 minutes away.” He adds that, besides the visits to these enchanting locations, visitors enjoy other activities ranging from stargazing and horseriding to experiencing authentic Bedouin nights in the desert. Furthermore, Fayoum has a diverse number of authentic ecolodges like Sobek and La Zip.

Coloured Mountains
Coloured Mountains, Photography by Mohab Al Naggar

The future seems very bright for Fayoum.  Within the next five years, Al Naggar predicts that more luxury inns and resorts will be built to accommodate the increasing number of visitors. Its location and the continuous discoveries being made in its desert are likely to continue to raise Fayoum’s profile as an attractive tourist destination. The hope is that, as it becomes more popular, Fayoum’s amazing natural beauty won’t be sacrificed in the course of its development.  After all, when it comes to beauty, less is often more.