Egypt’s largest oasis is also the closest to the Nile and Cairo. Lake Qarun was formed around 70,000 years ago when the Nile overflowed into the Fayoum Depression. Now canals that connect it to the river maintain the lake. The oasis has historically been the “garden of Egypt” and it still produces a large amount of fruit and vegetables today. The lake is also noted for its abundance of wildlife.
Huge numbers of migratory birds use the lake in the winter and fall, either stopping here or pausing on their way further south. It has been a historically favorite hunting ground for pharaohs and more modern nobility alike.
As a result, there are four groups of pyramids scattered in the desert around Fayoum. Most of these are in poor condition due to the generally inferior and less substantial building techniques used by Middle Kingdom pharaohs in building pyramids. The pyramids at Lahun, Lisht, and Hawara are in very poor shape—to the extent that some of them only resemble piles of rubble in a roughly pyramidal form, but the fourth pyramid at Meidum is more impressive, especially for its very unusual structure.