Friday, 1 January 2016

Wadi El-Rayan Waterfalls, Egypt’s Only Man-Made Waterfall

Egypt is home to many of the most vital and impressive archaeological monuments in the world. The valley of Wadi El-Rayan, 65 km southwest of Fayoum city, in Egypt, is home to two large artificial lakes formed to divert surplus agricultural drainage water from Fayoum oasis. This is also home to the country’s only waterfalls. The Fayoum oasis originally drained into Lake Qarun in the north. Most memorable is the spectacular scenery of Wadi El- Rayan is the contrast between the blue waters of the lake and the golden desert sand. However, the lake can take only a definite volume of drainage water. Anything over this capacity and the lake level would rise and flood the surrounding land, every so often doing severe impairment because of the waters high salt content. Therefore, this means that the amount of water that can be used in the Fayoum is limited by the region’s maximum drainage capacity. As a result, until recently water-intensive crops such as reeds and rice could be grown only in very limited quantities. Moreover, no new land could be reclaimed without affecting swamping of prevailing farmland near Lake Qarun. 

Thus, there was a pressing requirement to find an alternative drainage basin, and the big depression of Wadi El Rayan was found to be suitable. Well, when go to back in 1974, a nine kilometers open channel and an  eight kilometers tunnel were cut through the desert from the western side of the Fayoum depression to the large, dry depression of Wadi El Rayan. Thus, drainage water flows into Wadi El-Rayan forming two large lakes. Moreover water first reaches the northern lake and when it’s overcome, a stream flows towards a deeper part of the depression, where one more lake is formed. As the course of the stream was eroded, natural rocks were uncovered and waterfalls formed over them. Moreover, Jabal Madwera, adjacent the lower lake, is recognized for its extensive dune formations.

There are several cascades on the stream, none of them taller than two to four meters. Yet, they’ve fascinated substantial attention between the local Egyptians, as various have never seen waterfalls before. Consequently, the waterfalls have also been featured in several Egyptian pop videos and movies. The waterfalls, though, will not last persistently as the level of the lower lake is frequently rising and the falls will exist only until the expanding surface area lets a rate of evaporation equivalent to the amount of water flowing into it. Thus, the lake shorelines are heavily vegetated making them flawless wintering habitats for migrating birds and breeding spot for countless fishes. Furthermore, this area is now a nature reserve and is home to the world’s sole population of Slender-horned Gazelles, 11 species of reptiles, 9 species of mammals, 13 species of resident birds, and 26 species of migrant and vagrant birds.