Information about Burullus Lake in Egypt, tours and Online Booking

Burullus Lake located along the Mediterranean coast. The lake occupies a more or less, central position between the two branches of the Nile. Moreover, it extends between 31o 22′ – 31 o 26′ N and 30 o 33′ – 31 o 07′ E. It is a shallow brackish lake, connected with the sea by a small outlet (Boughaz). It is about 50m wide near El Burg village. The length of the lake is about 65 km. The width varied between 6 and 16 km, with an average of about 11 km. The depth of the lake ranges between 0.42 and 2.07 m. The eastern sector of the lake is the shallowest, showing an average depth of 0.8m. The present area of Burullus Lake is 420 km2 (100000 acre) of which 370 km2 is open water.

Former estimates of the area are 588 km2 (140000 acre) in 1913. Moreover, it was 574 km2 (136620 acre) in 1956 and 462 km2 (110000 acre) in 1974. It seems that during the last 6 years there has been a reduction in the lake area by 30%. This decrease is due to continuous land reclamation projects along the southern and eastern shores of the lake. The southern part of Burullus Lake receives freshwater supply from 6 drains and one brackish water canal. The saline water enters the lake from the sea through El Boughaz, at the northeastern part. The quality and quantity of in-flowing waters to the lake determine the distribution of the biota of the lake.

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Burullus Lake is very different from what it was several decades ago before the construction of the Aswan High Dam. When it used to be subjected to the periodical Nile floods in late summer and autumn. Burullus lake separated from the sea by a strip of land. It covered with sand bears and dunes of varying widths and heights. The bottom of the lake is sandy with silty material in the Boughaz area. Elsewhere there are clay and mud deposits. At drain mouths there is predominantly black mud. There are approximately 50 uninhabited islets in the lake. The shores of the lake covered with dense vegetation of mainly Phragmits australis and Juncus sp.

The lake – sea connection sometimes closed in the spring. This is due to the movement and accumulation of beach sands. It caused by the coastal circulation of sea water in the region of El Boughaz. Water temperature varies from 11o C in February to 29.5o C in August. The Burullus region has the characteristic climate of lower Egypt. The major nutrient sources for Burullus Lake comes through the drain and the recycling of organic materials. Nutrient concentration is relatively high in the south western part. It is where more than 75% of the total amount of drain water enters into Burullus Lake.


Phytoplankton community in Burullus Lake is relatively low and tends to increase from east to west. The average annual value of total Phytoplankton in the lake amount to 1039000 unit/l with a peak in May. They dominated by Bacillariophyta, which represented by 59 species in 10 families. Then Chlorophyta which represented by 36 species belonging to 12 families, while Cyanophyta represented by 7 species only. Aquatic vegetation in the lake characterized by a small number of abundant species. The main species are Common Reed (Phargmites australis), Reed maco (Typha domigensis) and Water hyacinth (Eichhonia crassipes). They also include Duckweed (Lemna sp.), Pond weed (Potamogeton pectinatus) and Horn wort (Ceratophyllum demersum). The Aquatic vegetation of Burullus Lake seems to be increasing almost everywhere. This caused by the increasing in nutrients and fresh water discharge into the lake.


The zooplankton population recorded in Burullus Lake comprises about 115 species included in 60 genera. These are mostly confined to 3 main groups. In fact, they are Copedopa, Rotifara and Cladocera. They constitute collectively about 92.2% by number of the total zooplankton. Generally, the highest zooplankton abundance is recorded from the western sector. The annual average number reached 100972 organisms/m3.

Benthic Fauna:

The benthic fauna shows a low number of species, as is typical of this type of environment. Eleven species, recorded, including molluscs, crustaceans, annelids and insects. The most numerous group is that of mollusks followed by crustaceans.


The occurrence of brackish water results in a large number of fish species inhabiting Burullus Lake. In fact, 32 species of fish found in the lake. Several, puse marine fishes, i.e. Sparus aurata and Solea solea invade Burullus Lake for some periods of time. They usually found in areas of high salinity. In areas where the water is brackish, more species found.


Burullus Lake indeed is as a wintering area of international importance for waterbirds. In fact, Burullus Lake is one of the most important wintering areas. It is for the Whiskered Tern breeding in Europe and Western Asia. It contains the highest concentration of this species in the world. The total number of waterbirds wintering in Burullus Lake and adjacent marshes may well exceed half a million. Land reclamation along the southern and south-eastern periphery of the lake is the main threat. The continuous land reclamation projects have an irreversible impact on the ecosystem of the lake. This is because of its great international importance. The wintering area for the Palearctic waterbirds strongly suggested to stop further land reclamation. Furthermore, it made Burullus Lake and adjacent marshes a wildlife reserve.


Burullus Lake located in the warm temperature zone. The average monthly air temperature usually attains its minimum value of 13.3oC during winter (January). It increases gradually throughout the spring. It reaches its average maximum values of 26.6oC in the summer (July). This is followed by a gradual decrease in the autumn. The air temperature also subjected to diurnal variations.

Wind Action:

The dominant wind in the Burullus Lake area blows mostly from the western direction. It sometimes changes its direction to north or north-western. Besides less frequently to northeastern directions. In fact, it may also blow from the south-western during winter. The prevailing wind speed averages between 1 and 16 knots. Wind speed more than 16 knots is less frequent. While wind speed more than 27 knots is very rare and confined mostly to winter months. There is direct effect of the increased wind speed on the general hydography of the lake. In fact, it manifested by the introduction of the sea.

The water into the lake through the Boughaz channel, the size of which depends on the wind velocity and duration. According to the shallowness of the lake, the increased wind velocity causes also a turbulence of water. Also, the wind movements play an important role in the distribution of salinity in the lake. When it is easterly winds, the drain’s freshwater covers most of the lake. Moreover, it decreases the salinity to a large extent. The northerly winds drive water southerly and the salinity increases even next to drains.

Rain Fall:

In fact, the north Mediterranean Sea coast of Egypt is as the rainiest part of the country. Such rain represents additional source of fresh water to the lake. And which amounts to an average of about 100 million m3 per year as computed from meteorological data. The rainfall in Burullus Lake area mostly confined to late autumn and winter (December-February). And while the other months are often dry. The average annual rain fall is about 200 mm per year. This value varies from one year to another and. It usually fluctuates between 150 and 300 mm per year (Aboul-Ezz, 1984).

In fact, all of Burullus Lake declared a protected area under law 102/1983, in May 1983. It was with the lake and the sandbar which included within the boundaries of the reserve. The present value of Burullus Lake as a breeding area for waterbirds is high. Both in respect of an Egyptian standard and on an international scale. Burullus Lake is the least disturbed wetland in the Nile Delta. In fact, it is the second largest lake in Egypt. The lake makes this area relatively important compared to other wetland areas in the Nile Delta.

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The salt marshes around Burullus Lake are of major importance for two subspecies endemic to Egypt. There are virtually no data on the function of Burullus Lake. Burullus Lake is a wintering area of international importance for wintering waterbirds. It is where significant numbers of Wigeon, Shoveler, Ferrugineous Duck, Coot and Whiskered Tern recorded. The world’s second largest known concentration of Ferrugineous Duck is from Burullus Lake (Meininger & Atta, 1994). The species is decreasing and the total world population may be less than 25000 birds (Monval & Pirot, 1989). The wintering number of Whiskered Tern in the Delta Lakes is the largest which known in the world.

The importance of the Nile Delta lakes may be substantially larger in winter with cold spells around the Black Sea. There are 17 bird species listed in Egypt as endemic species. They are Streptopelia senegalensis (Palm Dove), Centropus senegalensis aegyptius (Senegal Coucal) and Merops orientalis cleopatra (Little Green Bee-eater). In fact, there are 11 globally which threatened bird species occurring in Egypt.

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Wall paintings on the old Egyptian Temples prove that wild birds played some economic roles in the ancestors life. They utilized them for several reasons such as food, decoration, medicine, education, sport and religion. At our present time wild birds still utilized. Several bird species trapped and shot all over the Egyptian wetlands and deserts. It is mainly for food and sport. They effect of these activities on the population of the victim species. Moreover, they also affect on the economy attempted by a few researchers. (Mullie and Meiniger, 1981 and 1983; Goodman and Meininger, 1989; Baha El Din and Salama, 1991; and Baha El Din, 1992).

Waterfowl hunting is an old activity in Egypt that goes back to the dynastic time. At present waterfowl still hunted all over the Egyptian wetlands especially on Burullus Lake. Two types of waterfowl hunting known such as commercial hunting and hunting sport. Both practiced mainly during the winter season when there are an abundant number of wintering birds. The commercial hunting occurs by trapping and shooting waterfowl by the local people. The local people who live around Burullus Lake who are mostly fishermen. The catch sold alive or dead to middlemen in popular markets.

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In fact, hunting sport is a non commercial hunting occurs mainly for pleasure and. The hunted birds not offered for sale, but consumed by the hunter’s families and friends. This type of hunting well organized by two shooting clubs based in Cairo and Alexandria. Cairo Shooting Club hires a number of lakes from the governorates of Sharkia and Ismaelia. It maintains them to use in the winter season as hunting reserves. Duck shooting at these reserves allowed only on 16 days per year. They are one day every week and the lasting from early December to Mid March. The economic value of hunting by the shooting club related to the fees of hiring the lakes. However this economic value cannot considered of significant value to the regional economy.

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