Explore Lake NAtron – The perfect Breeding Place for Flamingos : Lake Natron is a very lovely and attractive environment, with temperatures up to 60°C and an alkalinity of exceeding pH 12. Surprisingly, the lake’s pinkish waters serve as the only regular breeding ground for 2.5 million lesser flamingos in East Africa. These amazing animals have adapted to endure the extraordinarily high salt content of the lake, enabling them to spawn in a place devoid of predators.

In northern Tanzania, next to Lake Manyara national park, is this magnificent soda or salt lake located. It is situated in the Gregory Rift, the East African Rift’s eastern branch. The lake is located at the base of the active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai.

Lake Natron is quite shallow, less than three meters deep and varying in breadth according to water level. The lake is 22 kilometers wide and 57 kilometers long. The region experiences sporadic seasonal rainfall, primarily from December to May. The lake frequently experiences temperatures of over 40 °C.

The lake’s high concentration of salt minerals like sodium and trona is left behind after the fresh water evaporates. The lake’s alkalinity can cause its pH to rise above 12. In this setting, unique bacteria and blue algae flourish and create an ideal breeding ground for avian life. Some cyanobacteria are among these halophilic species; they make their own food through photosynthesis just like plants do. The rich red hues of the lake’s waters and the orange hues in the shallow portions are caused by the red pigment in the cyanobacteria. Alkali salt crust on the lake’s surface is colored red or pink by salt-loving bacteria that live there.

Lake Natron, A Perfect Planet

Lake Natron was mentioned in the first episode of the BBC series “A Perfect Planet,” which David Attenborough narrates, in January 2021.

The pH level of the lake, according to Matt Aeberhard, a camera operator during the episode’s filming, “is not far short of household bleach.” Aeberhard added that “until recently, more people had actually stood out in Lake Natron than had been on the moon.” By using a hovercraft to get to the lake, the video crew was able to overcome the weather.

Lake Natron, the perfect breeding area for Flamingos

Since most other species find Lake Natron’s caustic climate, high temperature (up to 60°C), and high salinity uninhabitable, flamingos find a safe nesting place there. As a result, it acts as a solid deterrent for predators attempting to approach nests on seasonal evaporation islands. In this area, almost two million flamingos lay their eggs each year, which hatch between September and April. The salinity of the water causes an increase in cyanobacteria, and the lake may support more nests.

Other animals in Lake Natron

Some fish species, like tilapia, can thrive in water that is a little less salty close to the beach. A few endemic species of crustaceans, algae, and birds can be found in Lake Natron. A popular African destination for bird watchers, Lake Natron is home to tens of thousands of other birds, Explore Lake NAtron – The perfect Breeding Place for Flamingos. 

The most common animals in Lake Natron includes:

  • Flamingo

  • There are numerous bird species.

  • Fishes

  • Maasai goats, sheep, and donkeys

  • Some small antelopes

  • Some zebras and wildebeests

Nearby National Parks to lake Natron

Other national parks, including Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in the south, and the Northern Serengeti National Park in the west, are also easily accessible from Lake Natron. Typically, Lake Natron is explored following a trip to Lake Manyara National Park.

Tourist activities: Excursions and activities on Lake Natron

  • Visit an authentic Maasai village.

  • A walking safari to Lake Natron itself

  • A Spectacular mountain view (Doinyo Lengai).

  • Climb Ol Doinyo Lengai

  • Walk to the waterfall

  • Birdwatching

  • Photography: The View of the Large Escarpment Landscape and Volcano

Birding safari

Of course, Lake Natron is a popular destination for birdwatchers. For 2.5 million lesser flamingos, Lake Natron is the only regular nesting location in East Africa. The International Union for Conservation of Nature designated the flamingos as “near threatened” due to their dependence on the area. In this dry region of Tanzania, the ground can get very hot, so birdwatchers should bring plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes.

Hiking safari

With the aid of an expert guide, travelers who enjoy pushing themselves can climb Ol Doinyo Lengai. Ol Doinyo Lengai is a Maasai name that translates to “Mountain of God.” Because of how difficult the climb is, we advise that you have prior mountaineering expertise. In order to avoid the sweltering heat of the day, the ascent is typically finished at night. It is also possible to view the magnificent dawn from the summit by ascending at night.

Other activities

You may view a number of magnificent waterfalls that are located near the lake. Visit Maasai villages and their “boma” to learn more about the local culture (homesteads). Even an evening with the Maasai is an opportunity to learn about their traditions as warrior people, eat local cuisine, and spend the night beneath the stars in a Maasai “boma.”

Things to do in Maasai Mara National Reserve
Maasai People

Best time to visit Lake Natron

Since these months are a little colder than others, the dry season, which lasts from late May to early November, is the ideal time to visit Lake Natron. During the brief dry season from December to February, the area gets too hot.

The flamingos begin congregating at the lake in August and stay there into October. You can observe this amazing gathering if you travel during these months. Since trails might be dangerous during the wet season, the dry season also offers excellent hiking conditions nearby, Explore Lake NAtron – The perfect Breeding Place for Flamingos.

Evaporation is at its highest during the dry season, which raises the lake’s salinity. The lake’s increased salinity encourages cyanobacteria to grow more quickly, which gives the water a deeper shade of pink. The cyanobacteria give the flamingos nourishment.

Getting there: How to get to Lake Natron?

On your way back from the Serengeti National Park or the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, we advise that you stop by Lake Natron. Since the drive from the Serengeti is lengthy, you should stop at Klein’s Gate, an exit point on the outside of Serengeti National Park, for the night. You will arrive in Engaresero after an eight-hour drive the following morning. Your lodging in Engaresero will serve as your home base as you explore Lake Natron.

Travel Time/ interval to Lake Natron from top destination

  • Arusha to Lake Natron: 6 hours.

  • Tarangire to Lake Natron: 4 hours.

  • Lake Manyara to Lake Natron: 3 hours

  • Karatu to Lake Natron: 4 hours

  • Northern Serengeti to Lake Natron: 4 hours.

  • Mto WA Mbu to Lake Natron: 3 hours

Accommodation: Where to stay at Lake Natron?

There aren’t many places to stay around Lake Natron, except for the thrilling chance to stay in a Maasai boma. The Lake Natron Camp and the Africa Safari Lake Natron are two choices.

The Lake Natron Camp is a straightforward but cozy choice. The tents are roomy and offer a private porch area where you can view the setting sun. There are just 10 tents, so you can count on a peaceful and private stay. At the end of the day, you can cool off in their natural swimming pool.

On the edge of the national park sits the luxurious lodge known as Africa Safari Lake Natron. It features a range of pleasant accommodations at various price points, as well as a bar area with a pool where you can unwind after work.

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