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Activities in Alexandria Deserts & Oases

Wadi El Natrun

Wadi El Natrun Egypt

Wadi El Natrun Egypt information, tours, prices, booking

Wadi El Natrun is a northwest oriented desert depression. Moreover, Wadi El Natrun located about 60 km in the Western Desert near the delta. Wadi El Natrun lies some 23 m below sea level. The lakes fed from the water table of the Nile dot the landscape. Wadi El Natrun also known as area for bird watching. Furthermore, Wadi El Natrun contains a series of nine small lakes. Its total area 200 km, scattered along its general axis. Juncus and Cyperus dominate the wet salt marshes on the waterlogged eastern shores. This creates one of the most characteristic and attractive habitats for water birds.

The history of the Wadi El Natrun and its importance to Coptic Christians, dates back to the 4th century AC. Christianity reached the area with St. Macarius the Great who retreated there in 330 AC. At that time, the monastic life not yet developed. During this period, holy men were hermits, living outside social structures. The reputation of St. Macarius attracted followers and they built cells nearby. They began a loose confederation of monastic communities. Many of these early settlers from Nitria, followed the Christian hermit lifestyle. Hence, Scetis was less a place of innovation than a locus of consolidation.

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In fact, monasticism developed a form of semi anchoritism there. Moreover, hermits lived in cells or caves comprising two or more rooms, one of which functioned as an oratory. A new monk apprenticed himself to an experienced desert father and became his disciple. Monks earned their living by plying crafts, especially basketry and rope making. On Saturday and Sunday the monks go to the church to celebrate Mass. Sometimes they take a Sunday meal in common. In end of the fourth century the of Christian settlers became four monastic communities. They were the monasteries of (old) Baramus, Macarius, Bishoi and John the Little.

Furthermore, the monasteries were collections of individual cells and dwellings which centered on specific churches. They developed into enclosures with walls and watchtowers for protection. That was because, like Nitria and Kellia, Scetis was at times subject to raids from desert nomads. The nomads of the Libyan desert sacked and destroyed the monasteries of Wadi El Naturn in 407, 434 and 444. Indeed, raids at the end of the sixth century almost depopulated the area. The monks built towers to live in. In the ninth century, they erected walls to fortify their monasteries. Many of monks were living outside the walls of the enclosed monasteries. Later on, the monks began to leave their scattered cells to live in the fortified monasteries.

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In fact, in the fourteenth century, monastic life became more cenobitic. That was because the monks went to the enclosure walls for protection. The plague decimated many residents in the monastery during the Middle Ages. The organizations of monks grew up and forced to be together by common needs. Each of the monasteries had a council. One of the council’s responsibilities was to communicate with the external world. The council was also responsible for keeping the general discipline in the monastery. Because of a poll tax on the monks from 705 onward, monasticism began to decline.

Nowadays, four active Monasteries remain at Wadi El Natrun. They are Baramous monastery, St. Bishoi Monastery, St. Makarius monastery and Suryan monastery. The monasteries welcome visitors, irregardless of their faith. The monks are in general friendly. Usually, most of the areas within the monasteries can visited. There is no problem taking photographs most anywhere, including inside the ancient churches. Wadi Naturn is a quick, easy journey from Cairo.

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Qattara Depression Egypt

Qattara Depression Egypt

Qattara Depression Egypt information, tours, prices, booking

Qattara Depression is the lowest point in Egypt. In fact, the depression is under sea level. Qattara Depression situated in the Northern part of the beautiful Western Desert. Its depths reach to 134 m below sea level. Moreover, it is the largest of seven such depressions in Egypt. Moghra Oasis is the oasis of the Depression. Moreover, it not inhabited. Qattara Depression covers about 18,100 square km. Moreover, it contains salt lakes and marshes. During World War II, the depression formed a natural anchor. It was at the southern end of the British defense lines at El Alamein. It was against the final advance of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s German army in July 1942. In the late 1970s oil deposits discovered in the southern part of the depression.

In fact, Qattara Depression extends between latitudes of 28°35′ and 30°25′ north. The longitudes of 26°20′ and 29°02′ east. The region created by the interplay of salt weathering and wind erosion. Some 20 kilometers west of the depression lie the oases of Siwa and Jaghbub. In fact, they are smaller but similar depressions. Moreover, the depression has the shape of a teardrop. Its point facing east and the broad deep area facing the south west. The northern side of the depression characterized by steep escarpments. They are up to 280 meters high, marking the edge of the adjacent El Diffa plateau. To the south the depression slopes gently up to the Great Sand Sea.

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Bedouin tribes and their livestock do move through the area. They use the waters and grass of Moghra for grazing. Qattara Depression indeed features beautiful rock formations. Moreover, they differ in size and shape, as well as saline marshes. It also features black dunes. Black dunes called Al Ghorood As Soud. They located in the South West of Qattara. These dunes are black due to the high shale content. Qattara Depression is the last known location where cheetahs found in Egypt. There are not enough individuals to sustain a population. Dorcas Gazelle also found there.

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