Lake Qarun Protected Area
In 1989 the United Nations proclaimed the 1,385 sq km (535 sq miles) of wetlands around the lake a Protected Area.
This protection extends to the fossils, the antiquities, and the flora and fauna.
Southern Shore of Lake Qarun (still in the Protected Area) The contrasts that are perpetual in Egypt stand out yet again on the shores of Birket Qarun.
Where the northern shore is barren and desolate desert, the southern shore is lush, green, and productive.
While the north is mined for minerals, the south is cultivated for crops. The north is uninhabited while the south is heavily populated.
Because the current southern shore was underwater in ancient times, there are no monuments in the immediate area.
It has been developed mainly as a tourist site.
The lake is a popular day-trip for middle Class Egyptians trying to escape the noise and bustle of Cairo, and the beaches in this area are crowded, especially on Fridays and holidays.
The first part of the lake shore is overly developed with day beaches and resorts.
One must move beyond the resorts of Alla a Din, Auberge Fayoum, and Panorama and past the
village of Shakshuk
to the quiet, agricultural lakefront of the westem half of the lake.
Shakshuk, less than a kilometer beyond the Panorama Hotel, is a fishing village.
Boats can be hired for a ride on the lake or trip across it to Dimeh. Vendors are eas-lllf Spotted as the fishermen unfurl their Sails along the road and hawkers call out for customers. At the fork in the road at km total km.
the Egyptian Salts and Minerals sign, bear left, continue for one block, bear left again, and head south.
Continue for about 2 km (1.2 miles) and turn right through the cement arch to drive to the south western end of the lake.
Here the new road to Wadi Rayyan
that bypasses Shakshuk joins the road.
To avoid Shakshuk, take the fork to the left that announces Wadi Rayyan just before the village.
It will join the road from Shakshuk at the cement arch.
A few timeshare beach resorts and electrical wires now mar the landscape of this once pristine area. Otherwise, it is as it was centuries ago.
The serene pastoral
atmosphere continues for 20 km (12.5 miles).
High on the hill to the left of the road, on the benchmark of the former lake, rise the two newly developed communities of Ezbat Tunis and Haggar al-Gilf.
The Islamic style homes are the residences of afliuent families who find this section of the
a good place for a second home.
Just beyond the village, as the road reaches the crest of a hill, is the road to Wadi Rayyan. Accessible by regular vehicle, simply follow the road to Wadi Rayyan At this point, it is only 10 km (6.2 miles) to the end of the lake.
There are a few places where tracks lead down to the shore, where good spots for bird watching (especially for fiamingos on the far shore) can be found.
Swimming and sailing are fun, too, although it must be noted that the winds in the Fayoum are whimsical and that early morning and mid-afternoon are often calm and not good for sailing.
The beaches are usually empty and offer good spots to enjoy a picnic away from the crowds. Remember, this area does not have fresh water, shade, or concession stands.
Although these beaches are nearly deserted, remember to dress modestly.
Nude bathing is absolutely out of the question.
At the edge of the lake the road tums south.
Shortly after is a road to the right, tum right, or north, on any of the dirt tracks and head for the scarp.
There are a few villages and some cultivated fields, but the northern shore of the lake is near.
Wander at will. In some places there is a leisurely climb to the top of the escarpment. A 2×2 can navigate most of this.