Lake Natron is situated north of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and reachable by an adventurous route passing Engaruka village. The area is not as well-known as the other nature parks, but it is increasing in popularity. Temperatures in the lake can reach 50 °C (120 °F) and it is the most important breeding place for flamingos in East Africa. Every year two thousand flamingos come here to lay their eggs. Wear good shoes so you can hike up to the waterfall and enjoy a beautiful walk at the lake.
Next to the lake, you will find an active volcano, Oldonyo Lengai which means ‘mountain of god’ in the Maasai language. The volcano dominates the landscape in the area. Its steep slopes, which reach a height of almost 10,000 feet, tower over the Rift Valley wall. Traces of white lava can be seen spread around for great distances. You can climb Oldonyo Lengai and experience the sunrise on top of it in a way you have never experienced before.
Where is Lake Natron?
Lake Natron is in northern Tanzania, just over 100 km northwest of the city of Arusha. The elongated lake is 56 km long from north to south, and 24 km wide. A small portion of the lake its northern tip lies over the border in southern Kenya.
The perfect additional safari
As you can see in the map above, Lake Natron is perfectly positioned to be incorporated into a northern parks Tanzania safari. We often take clients looking for a Big Five safari to Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, but we now also offer a visit to Lake Natron as well. One of the things we dig about Lake Natron is that it’s so wildly different from its neighboring attractions. It offers spectacular scenery that often seems implausible or unreal, as well as different wildlife, which even includes camels! And we also really appreciate how truly remote and sparsely populated it is.
Why Lake Natron is deadly?
The water of Lake Natron is very high in cyanobacteria. This is an algae that releases a chemical that in turn damages the cells, nervous system, and livers of most of the organisms that have consumed it. Many of the birds and animals that drink from Lake Natron wind up dead as a result.
The animals, birds, and bats that die in the water are calcified and turn into mummified versions of themselves. The talented artist Nick Brandt has taken many of these petrified animals and placed them in lifelike poses, before snapping their photo. His series is titled petrified.
Why Lake Natron is red?
Parts of the lake often appear as a deep red or orange. The cause of the colors is a type of algae. A type of bacteria that flourishes in soda lakes often creates ‘algae blooms’, which in turn color the water. The algae blooms of Lake Natron wax and wane, such that the lake’s redness is not a fixed hue. The fringe of the lake also often looks more orange than red.