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Wadi El-Natrun

Explore the ancient beauty of Wadi El Natrun, Egypt's historic oasis, where centuries of culture, spirituality, and natural wonders converge. Discover tranquil monastic life, rich heritage, and serene landscapes in this desert oasis.

Wadi El-Natrun - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El-Natrun
Location Northwestern Part of Egypt
Historical Significance Christian Monasteries Home
Area Size 40 sq. km
Distance from Cairo 126 km
Geographic Significance Ecological Interest


  • Wadi El-Natrun is a unique valley in the Egyptian Sahara with salt marshes, natron salt deposits, freshwater marshes, and alkaline lakes.
  • It is one of the three Christian Monastic centers in the Desert of Nitria and played a crucial role in the growth of early Christian monasticism.
  • The valley is located 100 km northwest of Cairo and is accessible by car or through guided tours.
  • Wadi El-Natrun has a desert climate with hot summers and mild winters, making it ideal for exploring ancient monasteries and natural wonders.
  • The valley is home to four active Coptic monasteries, including the Monastery of the Romans, Anba Beshoy Monastery, the Monastery of the Syrians, and the Monastery of St. Macarius.
  • The area's historical, cultural, and natural significance, including its natron resources and fossil discoveries, attracts tourists and researchers from around the world.

Wadi El-Natrun is a magical and celestial wonder that rose like a beautiful flower from the core of the Egyptian Sahara to provide natural wealth that affected the growth of ancient Egyptian civilization across the ages. This celestial and enriching depression is found in the northern part of Egypt and is recognized for containing salt marshes, natron salt deposits, freshwater marshes, and alkaline lakes in Egypt. That is not all regarding the amazing El-Natrun Valley as it is one of the three Christian Monastic centers that are located in the Desert of Nitria.

Wadi El-Natrun is known by the name "Scetis" and it is mainly known today for its gorgeous ancient monasteries the valley around Wadi El-Natrun is called "The Desert of Scetis". The area of Wadi El-Natrun is best known for the large amounts of fossils that were discovered thereof pre-historic animals and that attracts tourists from all around the world.

Wadi El Natrun Location and How To Get It

The Wadi El Natrun is a legendary valley found 23 m (75 ft) below sea level and 38 m (125 ft) below the Nile River level, just 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Cairo. The valley is very accessible as the best way to reach the valley is by car ride from Cairo.

The most ideal way to get to Wadi el Natrun is by booking a tour with a skilled travel agency that will provide a seasoned tour guide across the religious, natural, and historical attractions.

Wadi El-Natrun Geography

Wadi El-Natrun Geography - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El-Natrun Geography - Egypt Tours Portal

Wadi El-Natrun is a name given to a desert valley which is located along El-Tahrir Markaz, west of the Nile Delta around 10 Km west of Sadat City’s entrance on the desert road between Cairo and Alexandria. The deepest point of the valley reaches around 24m below the level of the sea.

There are 12 lakes in the village whole color is reddish-blue. The best way to reach it is by a private air-conditioned car provided by “Egypt Tours Portal” travel agency from anywhere you are in Giza or Cairo since the wadi is only 100 Km North West of Cairo.

Wadi El Natrun Weather

Wadi El Natrun Weather - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El Natrun Weather - Egypt Tours Portal

Wadi El Natrun experiences a desert climate with hot summers and mild winters. Summers are extremely hot, with temperatures often exceeding 100°F (38°C). Winters are milder, making it a more comfortable time to explore the area. The climate helped the area to transform into a natural habitat for transaction religious structures made from material found in the area that stood against the face of the harsh environment of the desert.

Average Degree of Wadi El Natrun Along the Year

Month Average temperature (°C) Average rainfall (mm) Average humidity (%)
January 10 5 50
February 12 10 45
March 14 15 >40
April 18 10 35
May 22 5 30
June 26 0 25
July 30 0 20
August 32 0 15
September 28 0 20
October 24 5 30
November 18 10 40
December 14 15 45

The weather does not stand as an obstacle for enjoying the thrilling discovery adventure across all of its massive buildings and natural hidden pockets that were left highly preserved.

Wadi El Natrun Monasteries

Wadi El Natrun Monasteries - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El Natrun Monasteries - Egypt Tours Portal

The historical significance of Wadi El Natrun is incredible as it is very connected to the rise of early Christian monasticism. Around 330 AD, a Christian monk by the name St. Macarius the Great brought Christianity to the area which led to the creation of many monastic communities which held many facilities like monasteries.

Wadi Natrun is home to four active Coptic monasteries: the Monastery of the Romans, Anba Beshoy Monastery, the Monastery of the Syrians, and the Monastery of St. Macarius. These monasteries welcome visitors and contribute to the study of Coptic heritage, including literature, art, and architecture. The region is easily accessible from Cairo, making it one of the popular tourist attractions in Egypt for tourists and researchers alike.

 1- The Monastery of al-Baramus

Also known as the Monastery of the Romans, is believed to be one of the first monasteries in Wadi al-Natrun. It is found around 9 km northeast of the Monastery of Saint Pishoy which was founded in 335 A.. by Saint Macarius the Great, and it's dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Its name is derived from the Coptic Christian Pa-Rameos meaning "That of the Romans". The name "Paromeos" has various theories, including references to Saints Maximus and Domitius, Roman Emperors Arcadius and Honorius, and more.

Its origin is somewhat disputed, with various traditions suggesting it was named after Roman saints or a Roman monk named Arsenius. Saint Macarius consecrated the cell of two Roman brothers, and it is associated with their martyrdom. The monastery faced attacks and rebuilding, with notable residents such as Saint Moses the Black and Saint Arsenius. It played a significant role in supplying leaders to the Coptic Church, including popes like Christodolos and Matthew III and IV.

2- Monastery (Deir) al-Anba Bishoy

It is located in Wadi el-Natrun and was founded by Saint Bishoy in the 4th century. this monastery became significant in 841 when Pope Joseph I of Alexandria fulfilled Pishoy's wish by moving his and Paul of Tammah's remains from the Monastery of Pishoy in Deir el-Bersha to the Monastery of Saint Pishoy. Saint Bishoy, a devout man, joined the Monastery of Seetis at a young age and was known as Abbot Bishoy the Jeremian due to his fondness for the book of Jeremiah. He had close spiritual ties to Saint John the Little and experienced visions of Jesus Christ while living a solitary life in a cave. The monastery is fortified with a keep built in the fifth century to protect it from Berber attacks.

The original castle was replaced by a four-storied castle constructed by Pope Shenouda III. The monastery also features the Well of the Martyrs, where Coptic tradition holds that Berbers washed their swords after killing the Forty-Nine Martyrs of Scetis. These martyrs' bodies were later retrieved by Christians and buried in the nearby Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great. from 1971 to 2012, the monastery underwent significant developments, including the purchase and development of surrounding land, restoration of ancient buildings and churches, and many more construction works.

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3- The Monastery of the Syrians (Deir al-Surian)

Founded in the 6th century, is linked to Julian's heretical doctrine, which emphasized the incorruptibility of Christ's body. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is known for being mainly used by Syriac Orthodox Church monks from the 8th to the 14th century, hence its modern name, the Syrian Monastery. The Syrian Monastery was founded by monks from the Monastery of Saint Pishoy who rejected this heresy. In the eighth century, it was purchased by Syriac merchants, leading to its use by Syrian monks. the Syrian Monastery across history, faced attacks by desert Bedouins and Berbers, with significant damage occurring in 817 AD.

It was rebuilt in 850 AD by two monks named Matthew and Abraham. In the following centuries, it became prosperous, known for its artistic treasures and a library rich in Syriac texts. The British Museum acquired a significant number of Syriac manuscripts from the monastery's library between 1839 and 1851, leading to research on the Syriac language and culture. The monastery also provides a unique opportunity to study Coptic wall paintings, with ongoing restoration projects.

4- The Monastery of St. Macarius

Also known as Deir Abu Magar is 92 kilometers northwest of Cairo, along the highway between Cairo and Alexandria. This ancient monastery date around 360 AD which was made by Saint Macarius of Egypt and has been continuously inhabited by monks since its establishment in the 4th century. It holds historical significance as the spiritual home for numerous early Christian saints and fathers, including Saint Macarius of Alexandria, Saint John the Dwarf, Saint Paphnutius the Ascetic, Saint Isidore, Saint Arsenius, Saint Moses the Black, Saint Poemen, Saint Serapion, and many others.  It began as an informal structure and later became a significant center of the Coptic church. The monastery was rebuilt and expanded after attacks by Berbers. It houses relics of numerous saints and martyrs, including Saint Macarius the Great and Saint John the Little.

This monastery maintains spiritual, academic, and fraternal connections with various monastic communities worldwide, including those in Belgium, France, Italy, Lebanon, and England.  The Monastery of Saint Macarius is also known for housing the relics of numerous saints, including the Forty-Nine Martyrs of Scetis. During the restoration of the main church, the crypts of Saint John the Baptist and Elisha the Prophet were discovered beneath the northern wall, confirming the authenticity of these relics in accordance with Coptic Orthodox tradition. Around the 60s and 70s, a massive restoration process made all the efforts to preserve its spiritual and architectural aspects.

Wadi El-Natrun Importance

Wadi El-Natrun Importance - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El-Natrun Importance - Egypt Tours Portal

Wadi El-Natrun was a very important site for the ancient Egyptians as it provided the ancients with the necessary carbonated sodium that was needed to accomplish their mummification processes because of the great number of salts that could be found in the area in addition to the fact that the Romans used to extract the village for glass.

Wadi El-Natrun became a sanctuary for Christianity during the 4th century and the Christians there started to develop the area in a monastic order. The area became a well-known Coptic attraction to visit in Egypt for the amazing 10 monasteries that were established there and only four of them managed to survive through those many centuries. The four surviving monasteries are:

  • Anba Bishoy Monastery
  • Baramun Monastery
  • Abu Makar Monastery
  • El-Suryan Monastery

Moreover, El-Natrun Village is one of the Egyptian attractions on the list of UNESCO under the name "Southern & Smaller Oases, the Western Desert".

Wadi El Natrun Hotels

Wadi El Natrun Hotels - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El Natrun Hotels - Egypt Tours Portal

The Wadi el Natrun area is a magnificent attraction that is able to shed light on the epic culture, natural history, spiritual magnificence, and history of Egypt. There are many incredible and comfortable hotels in Wadi El Natrun that offer a variety of options for travelers. The most ideal option for all travelers will solely depend on your needs and budget. If you are looking for a comfortable hotel with good facilities, Spectra Inn Hotel or Green Desert Hotel are good options.

  • Spectra Inn Hotel: is a marvelous 3-star hotel located a few kilometers from the Wadi El Natrun monasteries. It offers comfortable rooms and a magical restaurant with a good selection of Egyptian and international dishes.
  • Green Desert Hotel: is a delightful 4-star hotel located in the Sahara outside of Wadi El Natrun. It has spacious rooms with desert views. The hotel also has a spa and a swimming pool.
  • Remal Wellness Resort: is a phenomenal 5-star resort located in the desert outside of Wadi El Natrun; famous for offering a variety of relaxing activities, such as yoga, meditation, and horseback riding. The resort also has a spa and a swimming pool.
  • El-Hammra Eco Lodge: is an eco-lodge found in the golden desert, also outside of Wadi El Natrun. It offers simple but incredible rooms with heavenly desert views. The lodge also has a marvelous restaurant and a swimming pool.

Wadi El Natrun Lakes

Wadi El Natrun Lakes - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El Natrun Lakes - Egypt Tours Portal

The word wadi is Arabic for the valley which is due to that the entire area is flat land surrounded by many lakes. The wadi of El Natrun holds about 12 magical lakes which contain a total surface area of 10 km.

The average depth of the lakes is around two meters. What makes these lakes unique is their unique color which is reddish blue. The water of the lakes was formed from the rainwater of the desert storms.

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These lakes and the surrounding area are also important for birdwatching and wildlife, serving as a habitat for various bird species and other wildlife. Wadi El Natrun is a protected area, and it is of interest to ecologists and environmentalists due to its unique ecosystem.

Wadi El Natrun Culture

Wadi El Natrun Culture - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El Natrun Culture - Egypt Tours Portal

The culture of Wadi El Natrun is highly impactful as for ages the valley has gained the reputation of being a source of natural wonders as the entire area is rich with salts and carbonates of sodium that were used for mummification.

The ancient Romans extracted from the area silica for the making of glass and even during the British occupation period, a railroad system was built to relocate the salt from the wadi to Cairo. The religious culture of the valley is influenced by the Coptic Christian faith because of the number of religious monasteries.

Wadi El Natrun Camp

Wadi El Natrun Camp - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El Natrun Camp - Egypt Tours Portal

Wadi El Natrun stands as one of the best camping spots in Egypt that uncovers the divine beauty of an array of different types of attractions that come in every shape color and purpose. All these wonders will come to life during your camping trip thus uncovering some very special tales and facts about rare periods in the history of Egypt and also nature.

Camping in Wadi El Natrun can be a popular activity for those seeking a closer connection to the natural environment and all the divine religious attractions. There are areas where visitors can set up camps, but it's important to be prepared for the desert conditions and to follow any local regulations.

Wadi El Natrun Facts

Wadi El Natrun Facts - Egypt Tours Portal
Wadi El Natrun Facts - Egypt Tours Portal
  • Wadi El Natrun's name is derived from the salt and natron deposits found in the area.
  • The valley played a crucial role in ancient Egypt's mummification process due to its natron resources.
  • The wadi has contributed to the study of Coptic heritage which shed light on the rich literature, art, and architecture of the time period.
  • Wadi Natrun is home to four active Coptic monasteries: the Monastery of the Romans, Anba Beshoy Monastery, the Monastery of the Syrians, and the Monastery of St. Macarius.
  • The monasteries in Wadi El Natrun have a rich history and continue to be important centers of Coptic Christian spirituality.
  • The area has a space of 265.7 sq mi (688.2 km2) and the region's alkaline 12 lakes support a variety of wildlife, including migratory birds.
  • The area has massive numbers of fossils of large pre-historic animals in Egypt which was discovered around the first century AD.
  • Wadi El Natrun's historical and religious significance draws tourists and pilgrims from around the world.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Meaning of Natrun?

The name Natrun is very old as it was known in ancient Egypt as "nṯr” which means "Divine" or "Divine Substance". The material was used in many religious activities, mummification, and many household applications like preserving properties and cleansing. It is known to be a mineral substance of white powdery crystals that have been used for many generations across history it is known to be a mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate “soda ash” and sodium bicarbonate "Baking Soda".

What Was the Most Valuable Resource Egyptians Obtained From The Wadi Natrum?

Wadi El Natrun was one of the most amazing and valuable resources for ancient Egypt as it was the place where natron was obtained for the salt deposits of desert and then used in the mummification process as a main ingredient plus there were many usages for it in the domestic, household, religious, and funerary practices.

What Are the Finest Destinations to Visit in Egypt?

The entire country of Egypt deserve to be explored with its every heavenly detail but there are places that must be seen before any other such as the breathtaking Hurghada's red sea, The wonders of Cairo the pyramids of Giza, the great sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, Khan El Khalili Bazaar, the wonders of Luxor like Valley of the Kings, Karnak & Hatshepsut temple and the wonders of Aswan such as Abu Simbel temples, Philea temple, Unfinished obelisk and The Wonders of Alexandria like Qaitbat Citadel, Pompey's Pillar and Alexandria Library. Read more about the best places to visit in Egypt.

What Are Egypt's Visa Requirements?

If you want to apply for a Visa On Arrival that lasts for 30 days then you should be one of the eligible countries, have a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining and pay 25$ USD in cash, as for the E-Visa for 30 day you should have a valid passport for at least 8 months, complete the online application, pay the e-visa fee then print the e-visa to later be presented to the airport border guard. You could also be one of the lucky ones who can obtain a free visa for 90 days. Read more about Egypt travel visa.

What Is the Top Traditional Egyptian Food?

Egypt has a variety of delicious cuisines but we recommend “Ful & Ta’meya (Fava Beans and Falafel)”, Mulukhiya, “Koshary”, a traditional Egyptian pasta dish, and Kebab & Kofta, the Egyptian traditional meat dish.

What is the Best Time to Visit Egypt?

The best time to travel to Egypt is during the winter from September to April as the climate becomes a little tropical accompanied by a magical atmosphere of warm weather with a winter breeze. You will be notified in the week of your trip if the Climate is unsafe and if any changes have been made.

What to Pack for Your Egypt Tour?

You should pack everything you could ever need in a small bag so you could move easily between your destinations.

Why Book With "Egypt Tours Portal"?

We have been creating the finest vacations for more than 20 years around the most majestic destinations in Egypt. Our staff consists of the best operators, guides and drivers who dedicate all of their time & effort to make you have the perfect vacation. All of our tours are customized by Travel, Financial & Time consultants to fit your every possible need during your vacation. It doesn't go without saying that your safety and comfort are our main priority and all of our resources will be directed to provide the finest atmosphere until you return home.

Is it Safe to Travel to Egypt?

You will feel safe in Egypt as the current atmosphere of the country is quite peaceful after the government took powerful measures like restructuring the entire tourist police to include all the important and tourist attractions in Egypt. Read more about is it safe to travel to Egypt.

What to Wear While in Egypt?

Wear whatever feels right and comfortable. It is advised to wear something light and comfortable footwear like a closed-toe shoe to sustain the terrain of Egypt. Put on sun block during your time in Egypt in the summer to protect yourself from the sun.

What are the Best Activities to Do in Egypt?

The best activity is by far boarding a Nile Cruise between Luxor and Aswan or Vise Versa. Witness the beauty of Egypt from a hot balloon or a plane and try all the delicious Egyptian cuisines and drinks plus shopping in old Cairo. Explore the allure and wonders of the red sea in the magical city resorts of Egypt like Hurghada and many more by diving and snorkeling in the marine life or Hurghada. Behold the mesmerizing western desert by a safari trip under the heavenly Egyptian skies.

What are Egypt Festival and Public Holidays?

There are a lot of public holidays in Egypt too many to count either religious or nation, the most important festivals are the holy month of Ramadan which ends with Eid Al Fitr, Christmas and new years eve. Read more about festivals & publich holidays in Egypt.

What are Special Advice for Foreign Women in Egypt?

Egypt is considered to be one of the most liberal Islamic countries but it has become a little bit conservative in the last couple of decades so it is advised to avoid showing your chest, shoulders or legs below the knees.

What are the Official Languages of Egypt?

Arabic is the official language and Most Egyptians, who live in the cities, speak or understand English or at least some English words or phrases. Fewer Egyptians can speak French, Italian, Spanish, and German. Professional tour guides, who work in the tourism sector, are equipped to handle visitors who cannot speak Arabic and they will speak enough English and other languages to fulfill the needs of all our clients.

What is the Transportation in Egypt?

The fastest way is a car, of course, a taxi. If you are in Cairo ride a white taxi to move faster or you could board the fastest way of transportation in Egypt metro if the roads are in rush hour.

What is the Weather is Like?

The temperature in Egypt ranges from 37c to 14 c. Summer in Egypt is somehow hot but sometimes it becomes cold at night and winter is cool and mild. The average of low temperatures vary from 9.5 °C in the wintertime to 23 °C in the summertime and the average high temperatures vary from 17 °C in the wintertime to 32 °C in the summertime. The temperature is moderate all along the coasts.

What are the Reasons That Make You Visit Egypt?

It is the home of everything a traveler might be looking for from amazing historical sites dating to more than 4000 years to enchanting city resorts & beaches. You will live the vacation you deserve as Egypt has everything you could possibly imagine.

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