Wadi El Hitan
Wadi EL Hitan is a golden treasure showcasing the key to the innovation and evolution of nature across millions of years. The desert of Wadi El Hitan is an epic land of prehistorical heritage filled with the most enriching combination of whale fossils that took a leap of faith transforming from an oceanic water creature to land-based animals called Archaeoceti. Exploring this blessed land of ancient fossils will unveil the most enriching paleontological facts and show the full development of these incredible organisms.
The valley of the whales was able to uncover the most epic facts about one of the greatest mysteries in the animal kingdom, no other place on the planet earth has this massive concentration, number, and good quality of whale fossils while having very easy access. In this article, we will discover all the elements and information that surround this marvelous attraction.
Location & How to Get to Wadi El Hitan
Wadi El Hitan "Valley of the Whales" is an epic paleontological location located in the Faiyum Governorate of Egypt. It is found within Wadi El Rayan in the western desert just 150 km (93 mi) southwest of Cairo, a three hours drive away from Cairo.
The entire valley is located at the back of a great mountain known as Garet Gohannam "The Mountain of Hell". It covers an area of 20,015 ha (49,460 acres) filled with hundreds of ancient whale fossils which used to be an extinct sub-order of whales known as Archaeoceti.
History of Wadi El Hitan
The history of the Wadi el Hitan extends back millions of years ago when it acted as a home for coastal marine life such as crocodiles, Whales, sawfish, turtles, sharks, and rays which turned into fossils with the passing of time and the shift in the geographical nature of this area. It has the highest concentration of fossils that may not be the oldest but it is by far the most preserved which is able to showcase the ecological and environmental conditions during this time period. This heritage site was initially explored for the first time in 1902 when a number of fossil skeletons of whales were unearthed and for the next 80 years, many more fossils were discovered.
In the 80s the popularity of 4x4 vehicles became too easy to access plus it grabbed the attention of fossil collectors and researchers. Some fossils have the shape of modern whales which have the characteristics of primitive whales in their bone structure. The ancient Archaeoceti whale is by far the biggest skeleton which has a length of 21 m. There are a number of other fossil skeletons found across an area that is buried in sediments. The site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005.
Fossils of Wadi El Hitan
Wadi El Hitan is one of the most significant and attractive attractions on earth which shows the evolution of whales across the life record of planet earth. It has the power to exhibit the transition of land animals into marine creatures. Located in the protected area of Wadi el Hitan is the highest concentration, number of fossils, most notably the fossilized skeletons of Archaeoceti. The fossils vary in different shapes from single bones to entire & partial skeletons.
There are a number of fossil reptiles buried across the lands which are crocodiles, sea turtles, and sea snakes plus some fishes like bony fish, sharks, and rays plus rostra and pegs of sawfish. A number of shell, nummulite and shipworm fossils were also discovered there. The oldest fossil located there belongs to a pelican which was unearthed in 2021 and dates to more than 50 million years.
These fossils date back to more than 40 million years during the Gehannam Formation, which comes in the shape of sirenians and reptiles plus shark teeth. Within an area of 200 km2 (77 sq mi) are a lot of vertebrate fossils dating to the Middle Eocene epoch ( between 34 to 60 million years). All the fossils are completely preserved but the most distinguished are 1500 marine fossils of skeletons and bones of whales, Sirenia, and sea cows. The most popular fossil whales are the large Basilosaurus ( 21 m) and the smaller Dorudon (3- to 5-meter).
These whale fossils are known to possess primitive teeth showcasing they feed on marine plants and sea grasses and small hind limbs which are not to be seen in modern-day whales. The bones of a Moeritherium which is a massive primitive elephant were also uncovered. Most of the artifacts are located in The Fossils and Climate Change Museum found within Wadi el-Hitan.
Geology of Wadi El Hitan
The geology of the valley is totally magical offering the most epic scenery as the cliffs and buttes made by the water and wind erosion deliver the finest spectacular sight. All the rock formation date to more than 40 million years. There are a number of open marine mudstones. Birket Qarun formations contain the most epic whale fossils plus incredible cliffs and buttes made of yellowish open-marine sandstones. The sandstones in the area are covered by layers of white and black mangroves.
The eastern part of Birket Quarn formation is able to show Gehannam Formation mudstones which indicate a transformation in the water depth from shallow to deep. There is also the Qasr el Sagha Formation which has a number of dark mudstones mixed with limestone which has a number of shells which was part of a lagoonal environment.
Wildlife in Wadi El Hitan
The wildlife in Wadi El Hitan is very rich as there are about fifteen species of desert plants and sand dunes. There are about fifteen types of wild mammals which are the Egyptian wolf, African leopard, red fox, African wildcat, Egyptian mongoose, and Dorcas gazelle. The most common animal in the area is the Fennec fox. There are 36 species of breeding birds and 19 19 species of reptiles across Wadi El Rayan lakes.
Best Time to Visit Wadi El Hitan
The best time to visit Wadi El Hitan is between November and April. The temperatures are more comfortable during these months and there is less chance of rain. However, it is worth noting that the area can be quite hot during the day, even during the cooler months, so it is recommended to plan your visit for the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat.
Tourism in Wadi El Hitan
Wadi El Hitan is one of the most attractive attractions of Sustainable tourism as it hosts about a thousand foreign travelers. It can be only accessed through a 4 wd vehicle or by a camel. It holds a number of tourist venues and the entire area offers the chance to present the most thrilling super safari that offers a number of fossils and natural attractions.
With our incredible Egypt travel packages, everyone can explore the marvelous Wadi El Hitan which holds the most enchanting fossils showcasing the evolution of whales across tens of millions of years. Nile cruises across the heavenly waters of the Nile River will be the ideal activity to enjoy next to the exciting super safari across the epic lands of Wadi El Hitan.
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What is Wadi Al-Hitan Known For?
Wadi El Hitan is known as the Whale Valley which showcases the evolution of whales 50 million years ago.
What Did Whale Valley Use to Be?
Whale Valley used to be part of a great ocean more than 50 million years ago which was filled with a number of incredible prehistorical marine creatures.
When Was the Valley of the Whales Discovered?
The fossils of Wadi El Hitan were discovered by H.J.L. Beadnell in 1902 during a Geological survey of Egypt. The site was the subject of 9 expeditions between 1983 and 2007 by a number of American and Egyptian Paleontologists.
What Should I Wear While Being in Egypt?
You should wear whatever you want. It is advised to wear something light from cotton or linen, comfortable and put on sunblock during your time in Egypt in the summer and wear comfortable footwear like a closed-toe shoe to sustain the sandy terrain.
What to Pack for Your Egypt Tour?
You should bring a brimmed hat and sunglasses if you not used to the Egyptian sun &pack everything you could ever need and put in a small bag so you could move easily between your destinations.
Are All Nile Cruises Available at Any Time?
Yes, it is available all years. as the Nile from Aswan to Luxor takes three to four days of sailing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the total cost of 600$ and the Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan take four to five days in Saturday, Monday and Thursday for the coast of 650$.
Why book Trips in Egypt?
We have experience in vacation planning for more than 10 years & our staff consists of the most professional operators, guides and drivers who dedicate all of their time & effort create the perfect vacation. All of our tours are customized by Travel, Financial & Time advisors to fit your every possible need during your time in egypt. we always keep in mind that your safety & comfort are our main priority until you return home.
Is it safe to travel to Egypt?
Yes, it is absolutely safe to travel to egypt, You will feel secure in Egypt as the current atmosphere of the country is very peaceful after the government took powerful measures like restructuring the entire tourist police to include all the important and tourist attractions in Egypt and construct an entire environment dedicated for ensuring the lives of all tourists.
What are Egypt's Visa Requirements?
They are very simples, If you want to apply for a Visa On Arrival that lasts for 30 days then you should be one of the eligible countries(check the link), have a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining and pay 25$ USD entry fee in cash. As for the E-Visa for 30 days, you should have a valid passport for at least 8 months, complete the online application, pay the e-visa fee then print the e-visa to later be presented to the airport border guard. You could be one of the countries eligible for a free visa for 90 days.
What is the Weather is Like?
The temperature of Egypt ranges from 37c to 14 c, Summer in Egypt is somehow hot and winter is cool and mild but sometimes it becomes cold at night. The average of low temperatures vary from 9.5 ¡ÆC in the wintertime to 23 ¡ÆC in the summertime and average high temperatures vary from 17 ¡ÆC in the wintertime to 32 ¡ÆC in the summertime while the temperature is moderate all along the coasts.
What is the Best Time of Visit Egypt?
It is known the best time to travel to Egypt is in the winter from September to April as the climate becomes a bit tropical, a warm atmosphere with a winter breeze. You will also be notified a week before your trip if the weather is unsafe or if any changes have been made.
Should I Give Tips in Egypt?
It is totally up to you, but if you choose to you can tip the servers at your restaurant 5-10% by handing it to them directly and 5 Egyptian Pounds as a general tip of anyone.
Can I Enter the Pyramids?
Yes, you can enter the pyramids for the small fee of 20$.
How to Enjoy Egypt During Ramadan?
Ramadan is a special time of year for Muslims that should be celebrated by non-Muslims and feel the essence of the Islamic culture. You can fast with the Muslim or just observe but you are always welcome to join the celebrations and festivals.