What cars do we use for our safaris? Tanzania Safari Vehicles, Best Tanzania Safaris & Tours, Best Tanzania Tours for Singles, 5 Days Tanzania Safari, 4 Days Tanzania Luxury Safari, Rhino Safaris - All you need to know before you go, How to Choose a Good Affordable Tanzania Safari Company, Tanzania in October, Remember, Tanzania's diverse regions offer unique experiences year-round. Consider these options: The Serengeti: Witness the Grumeti River Mara River crossings between July and October, even during the low season. Ngorongoro Crater: Enjoy year-round wildlife viewing in this volcanic haven, with fewer crowds during the wet season. Zanzibar: Escape the mainland altogether and indulge in beach bliss, with sunshine guaranteed year-round. Ultimately, the perfect safari timing boils down to your priorities. If wildlife viewing and clear skies are paramount, high season beckons. If budget and solitude resonate with you, the low season unfolds its charm. No matter your choice, Tanzania's magic awaits, promising an unforgettable adventure etched in the tapestry of your memories. So, pack your sense of wonder, choose your season, and get ready to be captivated by the untamed beauty of Tanzania! 10 Things You Shouldn't Do When You're on Safari in Africa, Tips to get the most out of your Tanzania safari adventure, Ten Exciting Activities You Can Do on an African Safari, Camping Safari Vs Lodge Safari: Which To Choose, What You Should Know Before Booking Africa Vacation? Ultimate 7-10 Day Tanzania Safari Itinerary & Costs, Lake Natron, Why You Should Travel With a local Safari Operator

Lake Natron: Everything You Need to Know

Visiting Lake Natron | This Is Your Ultimate Travel Guide.

Embark on a journey to Lake Natron, Tanzania, where the ethereal red waters hold secrets of diverse wildlife, captivating birds, and thrilling safari reviews. Uncover the best accommodations, safety tips, and the key to planning an extraordinary safari. Immerse yourself in the wonders of Lake Natron!

Nestled in the northern reaches of Tanzania, Lake Natron stands as a testament to nature’s ability to both mesmerize and challenge. From its surreal red waters to the diverse wildlife that calls it home, this article unveils the captivating allure of Lake Natron, providing insights into its unique features, wildlife, and the myriad experiences it offers.

Geology and Formation

Lake Natron owes its existence to a fascinating interplay of geological forces. Let’s delve into the secrets of its creation:

Tectonic Activity

Location: Nestled within the East African Rift Valley, Lake Natron lies where the African tectonic plate is splitting into two separate plates: the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate.
Unique Composition: The lake’s waters contain soda, magnesite, and salt, contributing to its distinct properties.

Geographical Context

Location: Lake Natron lies within the East African Rift System, specifically in the Gregory Rift, which is the eastern branch of the East African Rift.
Dimensions: The lake stretches approximately 35 miles (56 km) in length and 15 miles (24 km) in width.
Composition: Its waters contain deposits of salt, soda, and magnesite.
Breeding Ground for Flamingos: Lake Natron is the sole regular breeding area for Africa’s lesser flamingoes, although this habitat is not adequately protected and faces threats from planned development projects.

  • Flamingoes: The lake’s warm, alkaline water provides an ideal breeding ground for the Rift Valley flamingos. These iconic birds gather here to feed on Spirulina, a blue-green algae with red pigments.
  • Other Birds: Lake Natron supports over 400 species of birds, including pelicans, marabou storks, and various waterfowl.
  • Endemic Algae and Invertebrates: Despite its inhospitable conditions, the lake hosts some endemic algae and invertebrates.
  • Fish Survival: In the slightly less salty water around its margins, some fish manage to survive.
  • Zebra: Uniquely printed zebras graze in the sparse grasses around the lake.
  • Fringed-Eared Oryx: These muscular antelopes with short, slim legs are another common sight.
  • Gazelle: Resembling deer, gazelles flaunt reddish-brown coats and curved, ringed horns.
  • Gerenuk: These “giraffe-necked” antelopes thrive in Natron’s harsh conditions.
  • Lesser Kudu: Striking striped antelope species also call Lake Natron home.


Salt-Loving Microorganisms: As water evaporates during the dry season, salinity levels increase, allowing salt-loving microorganisms to thrive. Cyanobacteria, which perform photosynthesis like plants, contribute to the lake’s characteristic deep red color.
Salt Marshes and Freshwater Wetlands: These areas around the lake support a variety of plants, adapting to the extreme conditions.


  • Lesser Flamingos: Lake Natron is the sole regular breeding area for Africa’s lesser flamingoes. These elegant, long-legged waterfowl create a mesmerizing spectacle as they gather here from August to October. Their vibrant pink plumage stands out against the lake’s blood-red waters.
  • Other Birds: Beyond flamingoes, Lake Natron supports a diverse avian population:
  • Common Ostrich: These large, flightless birds roam the shores.
  • Marabou Stork: Known for their bald heads and massive wingspan.
  • Kori Bustard: Africa’s largest flying bird.
  • Secretary Bird: A top-heavy bird of prey.
  • Bateleur: An orange-beaked eagle.
  • White-Back Vulture: Scavengers that play a crucial role in the ecosystem.
  • Chestnut-Banded Plover: Gorgeous shorebirds that grace the lake’s edges.

Things to Do

  • Birdwatching: Lake Natron is a haven for bird enthusiasts. Witness the mesmerizing sight of millions of lesser flamingoes congregating along its shores. These elegant birds create a vibrant pink carpet against the stark landscape.
  • Day Hikes: Embark on guided hikes across the rugged terrain Ngare Sero Waterfall Hike. Traverse shallow rivers, marvel at cascading waterfalls, and relish the refreshing mist as it plunges into turquoise pools below. The views from the Great Rift Valley are breathtaking.
  • Photography: Capture the surreal beauty of Lake Natron. From the red-tinged waters to the salt crusts on the surface, every frame tells a unique story.
  • Explore the Great Soda Lake: Walk across the baked mud to the shores of the Great Soda Lake. Observe the thriving algae and zooplankton, and watch the flamingos line up along the shore.
  • Maasai Cultural Visit: Encounter various Maasai tribal towns as you explore the area. Immerse yourself in their rich culture and traditions.
  • Footprints of Man: Discover ancient footprints preserved in the mud around the lake. These traces offer glimpses into the past and the lives of early inhabitants.
  • Flamingo Walks: Join guided walks to observe the flamingoes up close. Learn about their behavior, feeding habits, and nesting sites.
  • Zebra and Oryx Spotting: Keep an eye out for uniquely patterned zebras grazing in the sparse grasslands. Fringed-eared oryx, with their muscular build and slim legs, are also common sightings.
  • Extreme Sports: For adrenaline seekers, consider activities like motorcycle tours through the foothills of Mount Meru or historical tours.
  • Appreciate the Tranquility: Lake Natron’s remote location offers a serene escape. Take a moment to absorb the stark beauty and appreciate the delicate balance of life in this harsh environment.

Weather and Climate

High Temperatures: Temperatures at the lake frequently soar above 40°C (104°F).
Seasonal Rainfall: The surrounding area receives irregular seasonal rainfall, mainly between December and May, totaling 800 millimeters (31 inches) per year.


Lake Natron offer various types of safari accommodations. Choose from comfortable safari tents or indulge in glamping with luxurious bathrooms and verandas. Amenities include a swimming pool, bar/restaurant, and safari information desk1.

Malaria & Safety

Malaria Risk: Lake Natron falls within a malaria-prone region. Take necessary precautions and consult a healthcare professional before your visit.
Safety: Be cautious around the lake’s steeply alkaline waters. Avoid swimming due to the high salt content.

Location and How to Reach

Coordinates: Lake Natron is located in the Ngorongoro District, Arusha Region, Tanzania, and extends into Kajiado County, Kenya.
Access: Accessible by road from Arusha (approximately 70 miles/113 km northwest) and other nearby towns.

Fee Structure and Safari Tours

Entrance Fees: Check the current fee structure for visiting Lake Natron.
Safari Tours: Arrange guided tours to explore the lake’s unique ecosystem and witness its mesmerizing beauty.

Interesting facts about Lake Natron

The Remarkable Color: One of the most striking features of Lake Natron is its vibrant red color. Due to the high concentration of minerals, particularly sodium carbonate, the lake has a distinctive blood-red hue, creating a surreal and otherworldly sight.

  • Home to Flamingos:

Lake Natron serves as a crucial breeding ground for thousands of Lesser Flamingos. These elegant birds are drawn to the lake because of the presence of blue-green algae that thrive in its highly alkaline waters.

A Photographer’s Paradise:

The surreal landscapes and unique patterns created by the mineral deposits in Lake Natron make it a haven for photographers. The contrasting colors, stark landscapes, and the presence of flamingos offer endless opportunities for capturing breathtaking images.

  • Deadly Waters:

The pH levels of Lake Natron can reach as high as 12, making it highly caustic and inhospitable for most aquatic life. The extreme alkalinity of the water is a result of the volcanic ash and minerals that flow into the lake from the surrounding region.

  • The Calcified Creatures:

When animals come into contact with the highly alkaline waters of Lake Natron, they become preserved in a calcified state. The eerie sight of these natural mummies adds to the mystique and fascination surrounding the lake.

  • Ol Doinyo Lengai, the Mountain of God:

Standing majestically on the eastern shore of Lake Natron is Ol Doinyo Lengai, an active volcano known as the “Mountain of God.” Its eruptions have contributed to the unique mineral composition of the lake’s waters.

  • An Important Bird Area:

Lake Natron has been designated as an Important Bird Area due to its significance as a breeding site for both Lesser and Greater Flamingos. These stunning birds flock to the lake in large numbers, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.

  • Wildlife Conservation:

The area surrounding Lake Natron is part of the Lake Natron Basin, which is a protected area. Various organizations and conservation efforts work tirelessly to protect the lake and its surrounding habitats, ensuring the preservation of its unique ecology.

  • The Great Rift Valley:

Lake Natron lies northeast of the Ngorongoro Crater, close to the Kenya border. The lake is located on the lowest point of the rift valley—600 meters above sea level—and is probably the world’s most acidic body of water

When to Visit

Dry Season: The dry season (June to October) is ideal for photography and birdwatching.
Flamingo Breeding: Witness the spectacular flamingo breeding season from August to October.
Lake Natron is a place of contrasts—harsh yet captivating, deadly yet teeming with life. As you explore its shores, remember to tread lightly and appreciate the delicate balance of this extraordinary ecosystem.

Wet Season: From November to May, the region experiences its wet season. Rainfall during this period is often erratic and comes in the form of short, heavy showers. The temperatures are slightly cooler during the rainy season but still remain high, with daytime averages around 86°F to 95°F (30°C to 35°C).


holds significant cultural importance for the indigenous Maasai community. To them, it is a sacred lake, intricately woven into their traditional rituals and ceremonies 1. Despite its harsh conditions, Lake Natron supports a remarkably diverse ecosystem, defying expectations. This unique environment is home to various life forms, including the iconic flamingos that thrive in its warm waters 12. The Maasai people, with their vibrant scarlet robes, continue to honor this extraordinary lake, preserving its cultural heritage amidst the stark beauty of the Rift Valley.

Is Lake Natron worth a visit?

The location is worth visiting for its isolation, breathtaking beauty, and the chance to take a strenuous night climb up to the active volcano Oldoinyo Lengai. This region is located near the Kenyan border, northeast of the Ngorongoro Crater.

Why visit Lake Natron?

Lesser flamingos are Lake Natron’s most famous attraction. The surrounding area is also home to other species that can survive in this dry and dusty landscape, including kudus, oryxs, gerenuks, zebras, and ostriches. Fortunate adventurers may even catch a glimpse of a golden jackal!

What happens when you go into Lake Natron?

What Would Happen If You Jumped Into Lake Natron? The extreme saltiness of the soda lake wouldn’t turn you to stone like a glance from Medusa, but it would sting like hell if you had any cuts or breaks in the skin. Imagine what happens when you step into the salty ocean with a graze, it’d be like that but a lot worse.

What is unique about Lake Natron?

Apart from sometimes turning red, another reason that Lake Natron is so unusual is that it’s incredibly caustic (alkaline) from the nearby volcano. This makes it poisonous to most animals. Animal and bird corpses can be found in and around the lake.

Can humans swim in Lake Natron?

Lake Natron’s high alkalinity is beautiful, but hazardous. Its pH levels often exceed 10 and can reach a pH of 12, akin to that of ammonia. Therefore, the lake’s waters are caustic. It is capable of causing burns and irritations to human skin and eyes.

Why is Lake Natron so red?

Despite its ominous chemical composition, Lake Natron is actually a thriving ecosystem for a select few species adapted to its caustic waters. Extreme water temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit promote blooms of haloarchaea, salt-loving microorganisms that give the lake its red appearance.

Why is Lake Natron so deadly?

The answer lies in its water, which is rich in cyanobacteria—an algae that releases a chemical harmful to cells, nervous systems, and livers of most organisms that consume it 12. While it may be treacherous for many, the flamingos seem to have found their paradise amidst the calcified remains of unfortunate animals that fell into its salty depths.

Can you drink water from Lake Natron? 

Lake Natron can be dangerous to most animals and humans because of its highly alkaline waters. The lake has a dark reddish hue, seemingly warning us not to drink the water. You can also occasionally spot some animal carcasses here and there around the lake. The water may cause inside of a person as they were on a burning fire and if it may happen a person drinks enough water from the lake, the alkaline liquid that is contained in water may burn and create a hole in somebody’s stomach. Also, the abdominal pain may become crippling.

Why can’t you swim in Lake Natron?

The salty water in Lake Natron has a pH of over 10.5 and reports said that the water is so caustic that it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren’t adapted to it. The lake gets its blood-red tone from Bacteria, which can tolerate harsh conditions.

Why does Tanzania’s Lake Natron unsafe to human beings?

Is Lake Natron safe? Lake Natron in Tanzania is a highly alkaline lake with a pH of more than 12. It contains high levels of natron and trona, which are salts that can cause the bodies of animals that die in the lake to calcify, or harden like stone. The lake is also very hot, reaching temperatures of up to 60°C.

Why is Lake Natron pink?

If Lake Natron, in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, had a color theme, it would be pink. The alkali salt crust on the surface of the lake is often colored red or pink by the salt-loving microorganisms that live there. Also, the lake is the only breeding area for the 2.5 million Lesser Flamingoes that live in the valley.

lake natron photos

Experience the mesmerizing allure of Lake Natron through captivating photos. Witness the ethereal red hues of its alkaline waters, contrasting against the stark beauty of the surrounding landscapes. Immerse yourself in snapshots of resilient wildlife thriving in this unique ecosystem. Each photo tells a story of nature’s wonders, inviting you to explore the surreal charm of Lake Natron.

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