Overview of the Destination
Lake Natron is a salt or soda lake situated in the Gregory Rift, which is the eastern branch of the East African Rift. It is located not far from Lake Manyara in northern Tanzania, at the foot of the Ol Doinyo Lengai, an active volcano. The lake’s depth is less than three meters and varies in width depending on its water level. The lake is 57 kilometers long and 22 kilometers wide. The region receives seasonal rainfall between December and May, but it is irregular. The temperature at Lake Natron is usually over 40 ° C.
Unique Features of Lake Natron
The fresh water of Lake Natron evaporates, leaving behind water that contains high concentrations of salt minerals like sodium and trona. The lake’s alkalinity can reach a pH level of over 12, making it a unique environment for some bacteria and blue algae to thrive. The halophilic organisms include some cyanobacteria that produce their own food through photosynthesis like plants. The deep red colors of the lake’s waters and the orange colors in the shallow areas are produced by the red pigment in those cyanobacteria. The salt-loving microorganisms that live in the lake give the alkali salt crust on the surface of the lake a red or pink color.
Flamingos at Lake Natron
Lake Natron is an ideal breeding ground for flamingos, as the high temperature, caustic environment, and high salinity of the lake make it inhospitable for most other animals. The lake provides a good barrier against predators trying to reach nests on seasonal evaporation islands. More than two million flamingos come to Lake Natron every year to lay their eggs, and chicks hatch between September and April. The number of cyanobacteria in the water increases with the salinity, making the lake capable of supporting more nests. Larger flamingos also breed in the Wadden Sea.
Other Wildlife at Lake Natron
Some fish species like tilapia can survive in the slightly less salty water near the shore. Lake Natron is also home to some endemic algae, invertebrates, and other bird species. Tens of thousands of other birds can be observed near the lake, making Lake Natron a prime destination for bird lovers in Africa.
Heading: Nearby National Parks
Lake Natron is well connected to other national parks like Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the south, and the Northern Serengeti National Park to the west. Usually, Lake Natron is visited after Lake Manyara National Park.