The Farafra depression is a 980 km2 (380 sq mi) geological depression, the second biggest by size in Western Egypt and the smallest by population. Farafra Oasis has an estimated 5,000 inhabitants (2002) mainly living in the town of Farafra and is primarily inhabited by the local Bedouins. Parts of the town have complete quarters of traditional architecture, simple, smooth, unadorned, all in mud colour — local culture and traditional methods of building and carrying out repairs have been supported by its tourism. Often grouped within Farafra are the hot springs at Bir Sitta (the sixth well) and the El-Mufid lake.
Location of Farafra Oasis
The word al-Farafra (al-Farafira in local pronunciation, Arabic: الفرفرون al-Farfarun in Middle Ages) is a broken plural form of Arabic: فرفر farfar, meaning “fizzy spring”. The Ancient Egyptian name of the oasis was Ancient Egyptian: tꜣ jḥw, “the land of cattle”.
History of Farafra
Farafra was known in ancient Egyptian history at least since the Middle Kingdom. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Farafra region has been inhabited since the late Pleistocene. In the Ptolemaic period, the area was under the administration of the Oxyrhynchite nome, the 19th Upper Egyptian nome.
A main geographic attraction of Farafra is its White Desert (known as Sahara el Beyda). The White Desert is a national park of Egypt and 45 km (28 mi) north of the town of Farafra, the main draw of which is its rock type coloured from snow-white to cream. It has massive chalk rock formations that are textbook examples of ventifact that the occasional sandstorms in the area have created. The White Desert is a typical place for visiting by some schoolers in Egypt as a location for camping trips.
The Roman spring of Ain Bishay bubbles forth from a hillock on the northwest edge of town. It has been developed into an irrigated grove of date palms together with citrus, olive, apricot and carob trees and is a cool haven amid the arid landscape. Several families tend the crops here; you should seek someone out and ask permission before wandering around.
There is a large touristic well-known lake Abu Nus, 15 kilometres north of the edge of the Farafra. Due to its geographical location and geological formation, it has more than 100 wells spread out over the lands of the Farafra, many of which are natural. Most of these wells aggregate the cultivated land in the oasis. Some of the wells in Farafra have become a favourite tourist destination. Bir Sitta (well 6 in Arabic), Bir Saba (well 7) and Bir Ithnian-wa-ishrin (well 22) are the most important. These wells are favourable for swimming and relaxation because of the water’s warm temperature and a small percentage of sulfur.