Wadi Hitan Park Overview
There is another even more ancient Egypt that is known to very few people. Wadi Al-Hitan is a paleontological site in the Al Fayyum Governorate of Egypt. This is a remote valley in the Western Desert of Egypt, features integrated desert environment of wild animals, sea fossils, sand dunes, springs , desert plant groups, reptiles & birds.
Only about thousand visitors a year to the site, they only reach wadi Al-Hitan by 4WD as the track is unpaved and crosses unmarked desert sands. The foreigners are the most of wadi Al-Hitan visitors. They usually camp in the valley on winter weekends.
Being part of Wadi El Rayn national park; Wadi El-Hitan is managed by the same protection management that restricts visitors to prearranged guided tours along a prescribed trail.
Wadi Hitan is a remote valley in the Western Desert of Egypt. The site today is a protected area and a natural Heritage Site added in 2005 by the UNESCO as world heritage site.
There is considerable evidence which indicates that the basin of Wadi Hitan was submerged in water some 40 to 50 million years ago. A fossil remains of the first primitive whales and ancestors of the modern day whales. The remains display the typical streamlined body form of modern whales, yet retaining some of the primitive aspects of skull and tooth structure.
The whale is called Ambulocetus natans, moved easily between land and sea. Roughly the size of a walrus, this primitive whale inhabited coastal environments. These new fossils also provide insight into how these animals got around. No other place in the world yields the number, concentration and quality of such fossils, as is their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape.
Despite more than 100 years of studying this area, no complete restoration of a Basilosaurus has ever been made. This has been finally changed due to the recent discovery of a complete 18 meter-long whale skeleton. Over the years, researchers have found that the excavated skeletons show evidence of the last stages of evolution from land animals to a marine existence; the loss of the rear limbs and an alteration to the typical body form of modern whales while retaining certain primitive aspects of skull and tooth structure.
The valley is located behind a mountain, known as Garet Gohannam, (gara) means hill or mountain and Garet Gohannam means the mountain of hell. In the light of the setting sun, the mountain seems ablaze with an eerie red light drawing a fascinating scene.Wadi El-Hitan museum is located near Garet Gohannam north west of Wadi El-Rayan. There are 406 skeleton of primitive kind of whales in addition to the huge skeleton of Lizard whale which was discovered in 2005.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Egypt is safe country to visit with notable low crime rate, tourist attractions are well secured and there is no common negative attitude towards foreigners, with some sensible precautions and preparations you will feel at home and as safe as you'll ever be.
There is no special dress code when visiting Egypt tourist sites, modest dress is recommended in less tourist sites and there is no special concern for women traveling alone.
Egyptian Arabic is the most commonly spoken language in Egypt, it is also the national language in the country but Egyptians speak and understand English as they study it in school. Fewer Egyptians can speak other languages like French, Italian, Spanish, and German. Egyptians working in tourism sector are accustomed to speak enough English and other languages to fulfill the needs of most travelers.
Egypt is very connected to the world, it has many direct flights with Africa, Asia, European Union and United States. Visit Cairo Airport website for a full list of Airlines that fly to Egypt.
Duty free allowances on arrival to Egypt are 1L alcohol, 1L perfume, and either 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200g tobacco. Duty free shops are available in Egypt airports and major tourist cities (Cairo, Luxor, Hurghada, El Gouna and Sharm El Sheikh).
Giza Pyramids and most monuments and Museums in Egypt open between 8 Am to 5 Pm. During Ramadan, the holy month of the Islamic calendar, be aware that these hours will change significantly.
Shops and stores in Egypt are usually opened from 10 Am to 10 Pm however in major cities it opens much later and some are open 24 hours.
Visitors are welcome in most mosques throughout the year. Modest dress is recommended, women should cover their hair, arms and legs. Both Women and men will remove their shoes before entering.
Taking pictures for people and streets is fine after people permission While Taking pictures for official type or army structures is not permitted. In most historical sites and museums in Egypt it is allowed to use camera, some of them may charge you for camera but at the Egyptian Museum and some similar historical sites it is prohibited and you will be asked to leave camera at reception before entering.
Egypt enjoys big hotel variety from world class luxury to simple hostel accommodations; Check in time in most hotels in Egypt is around midday, 12 or 1 PM.
There in no health concerns or vaccinations required to visit Egypt but we recommend to check with your own doctor, he knows you and your medical history best.
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound (LE), it is about ,06 to USD. Money exchange is widely available, Credit cards are largely used in Egypt major cities and tourist spots.
We do not recommend the public buses in big cities. Taxi and limousine service are fine every where but price is negotiable. Trains go to all big cities in Egypt except Sinai and the Red Sea. Flights from / to tourist cities are always available.
Tipping in Egypt is an appreciated habitual attitude but is Not obligatory. Generally 5 to 10 EGP for small favors is fine for carrying luggage, parking a car or to guys who clean bathrooms. 10 % is fine in restaurant and spa. Tipping your tour guide and vehicle driver should be considered if you're provided with good to great service, feel free to give what you think your experience was worth.
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In Cairo, visit the Egyptian Museum, Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Khan El Khalili Bazaar and relish a walking tour on foot in Old Cairo. In Luxor visit the impressive Luxor temple, Hatshepsut temple, Valley of the Kings and Karnak temple. Aswan tours go to Philae Temple, Edfu, Kom Ombo and Abu Simbel temples. Uncover the Western Desert oases like Siwa and Bahariya. Diving or snorkeling in the magic waters of Red Sea and Sinai beaches like Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Taba, Hurghada and Marsa Alam to explore the magic of the underwater world. Board a Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan or vise versa, Lake Nasser Cruise from Aswan to Abu Simbel or vise versa and Cruise from Cairo to Aswan or vise versa.