Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley) وادي الحيتان

Wadi Al-Hitan

Location: 150 km South-west of Cairo Map


Description of Wadi Al- Hitan

Wadi Al- Hitan or a Whale Valley is situated some 150 km South West of Cairo. It is famous fo numerous fossils of ancient whales that are found here. Wadi Al- Hitan or Valley of the Whales is famous for full skeletons of whales that once swam here then this part of Africa was submerged under the sea. Evolution of a land based animal to a marine mammal is easily traceable by the fossils that are spread all around the region. It is no surprise that this part of Egyptian desert is named UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its isolation from most of human settlement gave chance to scientists discover and describe many whale species of Archaeocetes suborder. Known to palaeontologists as Dorudon Atrox, this ancient ancestor of modern whales is commonly found in the area. While its body shows characteristics of a marine animal, it still keeps its rudimentary hind limbs as well as skull and tooth design of a land animal.


Fossils from Wadi al-Khitan were not the first discovered samples of ancient whales, however, they are distinguished by their large number and good preservation - even the contents of the stomachs of some samples were preserved. The remains of other animals found in Wadi al-Khitan, sharks, crocodiles, sawflies, turtles and stingrays, allow you to recreate the environment and ecological condition of that period.

The first fossil remains were found in Wadi al-Khitan in the winter of 1902-1903. The fossils belong to the Dorudons, the earliest representatives of the ancient Archaeoceti whales, and reflect the stage of their development at which they had almost completely lost their hind limbs, their body was streamlined, like modern whales, but the tooth system and skull still had a primitive structure . The largest skeleton reaches a length of 21 m, it has well-developed flippers with five fingers, but at the same time - it is still quite developed hind limbs. The body shape of the whales found was serpentine, they were carnivorous.

Wadi al-Khitan is also the habitat of 15 species of desert plants, 15 species of mammals, including the North African jackal, red fox, Egyptian mongoose, African wild cat and others. The presence of 19 species of reptiles and 36 species of birds attracted by the Wadi al-Rayana lakes is also recorded.

In July 2007, the Egyptian government announced that 2 vehicles driven by Belgian diplomats had entered a guarded area and caused damage of $ 325,000. The Belgian government refused to acknowledge the damage caused by its diplomats. The incident remained unresolved.