Lake Natron

Northern Circuit

Lake Natron

Lakes and Rivers, Protected Areas 60 km² Northern Circuit, Arusha

This spectacular area sits just north east of the Ngorongoro Crater and forms part of Africa's immense Great Rift Valley. Nestled between rolling volcanic hills and deep craters, Lake Natron sits at the lowest point of the rift valley - 600m above sea level - and is probably the world's most caustic body of water. 

Lake Natron is a salt or soda lake not far from Lake Manyara in northern Tanzania. It is located in the Gregory Rift, the eastern branch of the East African Rift. The lake lays at the foot of the Ol Doinyo Lengai, an active volcano.

Lake Natron is quite shallow, less than three meters deep, and varies in width depending on its water level. The lake is 57 kilometers long and 22 kilometers wide. The area receives irregular seasonal rainfall, mainly between December and May. The temperatures at the lake are often over 40 ° C.

As the fresh water evaporates in the lake, water with high concentrations of salt minerals such as sodium and trona remains. The alkalinity of the lake can reach a pH level of more than 12. Special bacteria and blue algae thrive in this environment and form an ideal breeding ground for the life of birds. Such halophilic organisms include some cyano bacteria that, like plants, produce their own food through photosynthesis. The red pigment in those cyano bacteria produces the deep red colors of the lake’s waters and the orange colors in the shallow areas. Salt-loving microorganisms living there are coloring the alkali salt crust on the surface of the lake is red or pink.

Lake Natron, the perfect breeding place for Flamingos

Flamingos find a safe breeding ground at Lake Natron, since most other animals find its caustic environment and high temperature of the lake (up to 60°C) as well as its high salinity inhospitable. 

It therefore provides a good barrier against predators trying to reach nests on seasonal evaporation islands. Every year, more than two million flamingos come here to lay their eggs and chicks hatch between September and April. 

Cyanobacteria are increasing with the salinity of the water, and the lake can carry more nests. Larger flamingos also breed in the Wadden Sea. Lake Natron is also home to some endemic algae, invertebrates and other birds. Tens of thousands of other birds can be spotted near the lake, making Lake Natron a prime destination for bird lovers in Africa.

Waterfalls and springs

From Lake Natron Camp you can take a beautiful walk to the Engare Sero gorge where there are several waterfalls and springs.

You can opt for a half day or a full day tour. You walk to the waterfalls where you can swim and cool off. This oasis is a beautiful mix of tropical palm trees and volcanic rocks.

Lake Natron

Best time to Visit Lake Natron

All year around but best months to visit Lake Natron are the coolest ones from June to August. Dry season is perfect for walking and trekking around the lake

Getting to Lake Natron

70 miles (113 km) northwest of Arusha

Enquire: Lake Natron

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