Lake Natron is one of the great soda lakes of the Great Rift Valley. Here you can see thousands of pink-tinged lesser flamingos, a wondrous sight for all, but especially keen photographers.
May to Sept
Lake Natron is one of the great soda lakes of the Great Rift Valley. it lies in a remote area of northern Tanzania. But you can combine it with an adventurous driving tour to the northern Serengeti. You will see thousands of pink-tinged lesser flamingos on a Lake Natron safari. This is a wondrous sight for all, but especially keen photographers. But this extremely alkaline lake is but one of the attractions of this remote area.
The route in to Lake Natron from the south (from near Lake Manyara) is bumpy and dusty. So it's not for those with a bad back! But it is also incredibly beautiful with the wall of the Rift Valley escarpment in full, impressive view. As you travel you see real Maasai village-life that you'll not see on the normal ‘safari circuit’. This starkly beautiful wide valley is home to remote Maasai tribes trying to eke out a precarious living in this much drier climate (only 400mm of rain a year) than the Highlands.
As you approach the Lake, the looming majesty of Ol Doinyo Lengai dominates the skyline, with its classic volcano silhouette. This active volcano (2960m) last erupted in 2004. Intrepid hikes can do an overnight climb to the top. See Walks from Lake Natron for more information…
Lake Natron is an immensely alkaline soda lake, the result of the same tectonic activity which created the rift valley. As you approach, the lake seems to be pink. But this mirage is caused by millions of flamingos as well as red pigments in the algae of the salt-encrusted lake. Lake Natron has not dried out only because it is fed by the immensely powerful Ewaso Ngiro river coming from the wet central highlands.
The flamingos (some 2.5 million at their peak) come and go. But they are greatest in number from August to October when they breed. Other wildlife commonly seen are zebra and giraffe, as well as wildebeest, oryx, gazelles and even the occasional lion or cheetah (very rarely seen).
A walking safari to Lake Natron is very rewarding given its position under the Rift Valley highlands. Walking can take many formats from day walks (see Lake Natron walking) to a multi-day trek down from the Ngorongoro highlands via Empakai crater down the escarpment to end at Lake Natron.
You can visit Lake Natron from the south from Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro crater area (approx 4 hours drive each way). But from July to October, it can be used as a stepping stone into the northern Serengeti National Park. This is where the migration is likely to be at that time.
Allow at least two nights at Lake Natron otherwise you will be disappointed.
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Africa Travel Specialist