65 million years ago, the Mediterranean sea was larger, and its coastline was located much further south than it is today. These warm waters and ancient mangrove forests were ruled by Basilosaurus, giant 60-foot-long sea mammals that were the ancestors of today’s whales and dolphins.
The sea retreated, and eventually the ocean floor turned into the Egyptian desert. However, the skeletons of many of the great beasts were preserved as fossils. In the Valley of the Whales, this week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can walk on what was once an ancient seabed, and see the fossilized remains of Flipper’s oldest relatives (h/t Bootsnall.) The fossils are the earliest known record of the whale family- some of them even still have the remnants of legs!
The Valley of the Whales was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. According to the UNESCO Web site, it was selected because:
“Wadi Al-Hitan is the most important site in the world to demonstrate one of the iconic changes that make up the record of life on Earth: the evolution of the whales. It portrays vividly their form and mode of life during their transition from land animals to a marine existence.”
To visit Egypt and see the Valley of the Whales, you do need an Egyptian visa. If you are entering by land, you need to have your visa in hand ahead of time. If you are flying in, you should be able to get a visa on arrival-although if you apply for one in advance, you’ll make it out of the airport much more quickly.
To get an Egyptian visa, you need the following:
- A valid US passport.
- A separate passport photo.
- Plane tickets or a copy of your itinerary
- A completed Egyptian visa application.
RushMyPassport can make getting your Egyptian visa ahead of time faster and easier. We’ll help you with the application and personally deliver it to the appropriate Egyptian embassy or consulate for the fastest possible service.