In the land of Sahara desert and Nile River, the co-existence of contrasting nature is amazing. No scientist can explain this in Egypt. We all know the Sahara is a very large desert in the world but can we really guess how large it is? In terms of square kilometers (9200 thousand), it is almost comparable to the size of China and the United States (not together but either or).
The climate is simply hot in all over the Egypt; Cairo is no exception. I wonder how do the people escape the heat at least once in a way? I mean, without leaving the country, are there cool places in and around Cairo, at least for a short time?
Lakes and Oasis in Egypt
Yes, of course. There are natural and artificial lakes and even a waterfall in the vicinity of Cairo or a few hours journey from the capital of Egypt.
If you search for ‘sightseeing spots in Cairo’, you will be recommended only the pyramids and more pyramids but it is baffling why no mention about Lake Nasser or Lake Bardawil or even the Nile River cruise!
Let us take a virtual dip in some of the water bodies in Egypt.
Color changing Lake Bardawil in Egypt
Lying close to the Mediterranean Sea, located in the Sinai Peninsula, Lake Bardawil is said to be a lagoon and hence salty. Surprisingly, it is too big to be called a lagoon. Lengthwise, it measures up to 30 km and the width is 14 km! Wow!
That is huge, really; certainly not a lagoon but a lake. An aerial view of this lake reveals a lovely looking precious stone that is bluish-green in color and it looks as though the stone is firmly planted on the desert sand.
Another striking aspect of this salt lake in Egypt(should I say ‘salty lake’?) is its color changes a few times a day. It shows brown, yellow, and pink at different times of the day. Amazing!
Wildlife in Lake Bardawil.
This saline water lake attracts the aquatic bird called Little Tern, a black and white bird and sea turtles.
Great Bitter Lake in Egypt.
Great Bitter Lake is another saline lake and it used to allow ships pass through in ancient times. It is connected to the famous Suez Canal and the Red Sea.
Magic Lake in Egypt
We now move from salty lake to freshwater lake. Magic Lake is located about an hour drive from Faiyum Oasis which itself is about 100 km from Cairo.
It’s a picnic spot offering some refreshing greenery around and the tourists indulge in sandboarding here. In snowboarding, people skate on snow and in sandboarding, the sand is the base instead of snow; a thrilling desert sport.
The below sea level Lake Qarun in Egypt
Lake Qarun, situated within the Faiyum Oasis and Nature Reserve is an important landmark for the tourists visiting Egypt. From the capital city of Cairo, it is 80 km away. Since people have been living in the vicinity of this lake for more than 8000 years, it is a favorite digging area for archeologists.
This third largest lake in Egypt lies 45 meters below sea level!
A picturesque locale, boat riding is allowed on this lake. In total contrast, the northern side of this huge saline lake (214 sq.km) is a desert.
Lake Nasser in Egypt
This is a manmade lake and is said to be one of the world’s largest artificial lakes. It is known to be the home for Tigerfish and Nile Perch. Both survive only in fresh water.
Lakes in Wadi El Rayan.
We have already visited Wadi El Rayan located in Faiyum, near Cairo. It is an oasis literally and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Cairo.
W can see two freshwater lakes – Qaroun Lake and upper and lower lake. There is a mini waterfall also in Wadi El Rayan.
Earlier in this post, you would have come across the name, ‘Sinai Peninsula’. Well, the Pharaoh’s Island is located just 200 from Sinai Peninsula. It is actually an atoll only measuring just 350 meters by 170 meters of length and width respectively.
You can reach this atoll through a ferry which starts from the Taba’s coast. It is filled with coral reefs that are not conducive for swimmers. In spite of that, people do swim here. A risky sport really.
Inside the island, there is a small fort, a citadel actually and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I read that there is a mountain hidden beneath the sea water.
The Nile River Cruise.
Finally, the visit to the River Nile. I should have listed it at the beginning but I thought, I would reserve the best for the last.
The Nile cruise or a short boat ride starts at the city of Luxor, an ancient city on the banks of the river Nile. The wooden sailing boat is called Felucca.
This Felucca ride on the river Nile always starts in the later afternoon because watching the sunset is the goal of this joy ride. It is said to be a comfortable ride with cushion seats. Some rich people even celebrate their birthday on the boat.
As you ride along in a tranquil setting, you witness the rural life of the Egyptians whose camels, water buffalos and donkeys silently walk by the side of their masters.
En route your joy boat ride, you will be asked to embark on an island full of banana plantations and hence called the ‘Banana Island’. You are complimented with a cup of local tea and some very sweet bananas that you would not have eaten before in your life.
Other lakes of interest in Egypt are:
- Paralus Lake that contains brackish water only and also goes by the name Lake Burullus. It can be visited at Kafr El Sheikh, Rosetta. It is Egypt’s second largest lake.
- Siwa Oasis is located at quite a remote place, nearly 550 km away from Cairo, near the Libya border.
- The Aswan Dam built on High Dam lake. It is a big resort to attract thousands of tourists. Even floating hotels are planned to be built here.
Well, that completes my virtual tour of Egypt and Cairo.