The saying goes that “Egypt is a gift of the Nile.” First attributed to Greek geographer Herodotus, it embodies the notion that, without the iconic river, all of Egypt would be desert; dry and uninhabitable. Indeed, the Nile is the only perennial river in Egypt, the 29th largest country in the world.
What does that mean for the waterfalls of Egypt? Are there any waterfalls in Egypt, on the Nile or otherwise? That’s what we’re here to find out.
The Waterfalls of Egypt
So, are there any waterfalls in Egypt? Until the 1970s, the answer would have been simple: No. There are waterfalls connected with the River Nile. Notably, Murchison Falls in Uganda is a large waterfall on one of its main tributaries, the White Nile. However, there are no widely recognised waterfalls on the Nile in Egypt. So, what changed? Well, while there are no completely naturally occurring Egyptian waterfalls, some have formed in a place called Wadi El Rayan.
Egypt's Best Waterfalls
The waterfalls of Egypt are found in the midst of what is otherwise desert some 95 miles southwest of Cairo. These are no mere trickles, but numerous curtains of rushing water, each several feet wide and somewhere around 20 to 30 feet tall. They are part of a protected area known as Wadi El Rayan.
These waterfalls present a dramatic, multi-level cascade that powerfully plunges into the lake below, creating a misty spray and a symphony of sound. This unique location is an oasis of life in the otherwise barren desert landscape. The waterfalls serve as a lifeline, the vital heartbeat of this vibrant biosphere. It’s a juxtaposition that’s as visually stunning as it is unexpected. This striking phenomenon is a captivating sight for both locals and visitors alike, serving as a stunning backdrop for photographs and a unique spot for picnics, hiking, or simply appreciating the raw power of nature.
Interestingly, while these Egyptian waterfalls are not entirely natural, nor are they man made. At least not intentionally. Their story began in the 1970s, when a series of lakes were built in the valley of Wadi El Rayan. The aim was to provide drainage for the Fayoum oasis and it was achieved by building two large lakes. The waterfalls connect the two lakes. They formed as a result of the artificial lakes, but did so naturally. Just like the presence of these lakes has attracted wildlife to the area.
The Tallest Waterfall in Egypt
When it comes to accolades, Wadi El Rayan sweeps the board by virtue of being the only one of its kind. Thus, it is here that one finds the tallest waterfall in Egypt and the best waterfalls in Egypt overall.
The Egyptian Waterfalls
The waterfalls of Wadi El Rayan are an unexpected but compelling part of Egypt’s diverse landscape. Uniquely, they are the only widely recognised waterfalls in Egypt and despite being a byproduct of human intervention in the 1970s, these waterfalls have come to symbolise the delicate yet powerful interplay between the manmade and the natural world. Their very existence is a testament to the transformative power of water and human ingenuity. In the midst of what would otherwise be desert, the waterfalls provide a striking counterpoint to the surrounding landscapes.
What these waterfalls also represent is the adaptability of nature. They demonstrate how, when given a chance, nature can flourish in the most unexpected places. They’ve not only added an unexpected beauty to the environment but also contributed to the local ecosystem. The lakes and waterfalls have attracted wildlife to the area, further enriching the biodiversity of Wadi El Rayan. Visitors to these falls get to enjoy the unique spectacle of cascading water in the heart of a desert environment, a blend of the vibrant and the serene.
Therefore, while Egypt is famously known as the land of the pharaohs, these waterfalls prove that it has more to offer than pyramids and ancient relics. It invites us to appreciate the blend of human influence and natural wonder, a harmony that results in breathtaking landscapes like Wadi El Rayan.