Lake Natron is situated northeast of the Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania, near the border with neighbouring Kenya. Ol Doinyo Lengai, an active volcano located just south of Lake Natron, dominates the landscape.
Lake Natron is quite shallow, with a depth of fewer than three meters and a width that varies depending on the water level. The lake stretches for 57 kilometres and is 22 kilometres wide. The area experiences erratic seasonal rainfall, primarily between December and May. The lake’s temperature frequently exceeds 40 ° C. Because water cannot flow out of the lake, evaporation is extremely high, leaving behind natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate) and trona (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate). Because of the high concentration of natron, the lake has extremely high alkaline levels, making it one of the deadliest lakes on the planet. The surrounding landscape is eerie due to its proximity to a dead body of water, but it is rich in rare flora and fauna.
Lake Natron Facts
- The area is 1.040 km²
- 2.5 million flamingos are coming there yearly to breed (75% of the world population)
- Lake Natron has the largest flamingo migration in the world
- Lake type: salt lake
- The size of the lake when it is full is 57 km, by 22 km
- Water temperature: between 40-60°C
Best Time To Visit Lake Natron
Lake Natron is best visited during the dry season, which runs from late May to early November and is slightly cooler. During the short dry season from December to February, the area becomes too hot. The flamingos begin to congregate at the lake in August and continue to do so until October. Visiting during these months allows you to witness this spectacular gathering.
The dry season also provides better conditions for hikes in the surrounding area, as paths can be treacherous during the wet season. During the dry season, the lake’s salinity rises due to increased evaporation. The increased salinity of the lake causes cyanobacteria to multiply at a faster rate, giving the lake a richer shade of pink. Flamingos eat cyanobacteria.
Wildlife at Lake Natron
The saline waters make the lake inhospitable to many plants and animals, but the saltwater marshes surrounding the lake provide an unexpected habitat for flamingos, whose leathery skins allow them to survive the deadly waters. The lake has the highest density of lesser and greater flamingos in East Africa, where they feed on spirulina, green algae with red pigments. Lake Natron is a safe breeding location because its caustic environment acts as a barrier against predators trying to reach their nests on seasonally forming evaporite islands.
The water’s pH and temperature are so high that it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren’t used to it. The most intriguing, otherworldly aspect of the lake is the solitary, mummified birds that are occasionally seen along the shoreline, calcified over time and turned into strange fossils. Endangered algae, invertebrates, and even fish can survive in the lake’s slightly less salty water. This area is also home to zebra, ostrich, fringed-eared oryx, gazelle, gerenuk, lesser kudu, and golden jackal.
Lake Natron Birds
Other birds to look for while visiting Lake Natron include:
- Common Ostrich
- Marabou Stork
- Kori bustard
- Secretary bird
- White-back vulture
- Chestnut-banded plover
Activities at Lake Natron
- Mountain Biking
- A walk to Ngare Sero Water Falls
- Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano Climb (Ol Doinyo Lengai means ‘Mountain of God in the Maasai language)
- Explore the local culture by visiting Maasai villages and their ‘boma’ (homesteads).
- A walk to Lake Natron and its Natural Pools
- Beautiful view of the mountain Ol Doinyo Lengai
Lake Natron Entrance Fees
Remember that you must pay gate fees to enter the Lake Natron area as a non-East African citizen. Furthermore, $35 in “district fees” are collected at the entry gate. You will, however, require a conversation permit, which can be obtained in Arusha. Additionally, there may be some other fees that are subject to change.
Lake Natron Contacts
Phone: +255 784 522 090