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Flamingos in Tanzania

Millions of pink flamingos gather on Lake Natron to lay eggs


Lake Natron in the Arusha Region of northern Tanzania is one of the largest pink flamingo breeding ground in the world. This salt and soda lake with its unbearable heat and undrinkable water is home to more than 2,5 millions of lesser flamingoes. The lake has a high level of alkalinity, which supports the growth of cyanobacteria that flamingoes mostly feed on. This also effects the colouring of these birds. There is one more reason why flamingos flock here every year, and this is the temperature of the water. Most of the species can't handle the 120-degree lake water, and thus as long as flamingoes stay in the water, they are safe.

Over 75% of the world's population of flamingoes are born in the Lake Natron, as this is the only place where the eggs are regularly laid. If you want to see the egg laying and hatching, the best season starts with the receding of the water level, October and December is the peak. It's impressive to see how a pair of flamingoes builds a nest, which can be up to 30 cm high to protect the chicks from the floods and to keep it cool. A single egg is laid and incubated by both parents for 28 days. Small grey chicks usually hatch between December-February. They eat their egg's shell and then are fed by their parents for a few months. The sight of around 100,000 chicks protected by their parents is truly amazing. When the chicks are strong enough, a few adults escort them to the fresh water by foot. This journey can be up to 30 km long.

Pink flamingos can be spotted in other places around Tanzania such as the Momella lakes, at Lake Manyara, Lake Magadi around the Ngorongoro Crater and other alkaline lakes in the northern parts of the country.

Practical info

When is the ideal period to see flamingoes' nests and hatchlings at Lake Natron?

The peak season to observe the flamingoes nesting and hatching at Lake Natron is between October and December. This is the only place worldwide where the birds lay eggs, an exceptional opportunity to witness. Flamingoes' chicks normally hatch between December and February Show more

Where can I spot pink flamingoes in Tanzania aside from Lake Natron?

Besides Lake Natron, pink flamingoes inhabit other areas in Tanzania, such as the Momella lakes, Lake Manyara, Lake Magadi, and other alkaline lakes in the northern parts of the country. Even so, Lake Natron stands as the largest breeding ground and one of the few sites worldwide where the birds breed in large quantities. Show more

What is the quantity of lesser flamingoes that hatch at Lake Natron each year?

More than 2.5 million lesser flamingoes breed at Lake Natron annually, accounting for over 75% of the world's population. This location represents one of the most significant breeding populations of this species globally. The lake's hot and alkaline waters accommodate ample food, attracting flocks of these magnificent birds year after year. Show more

Is it safe for visitors to swim or wade in Lake Natron, or is the water too alkaline?

Although water is alkaline, and temperatures can be high, swimming and wading in Lake Natron remain possible. Swimmers should watch out and avoid drinking water as it may feel very slippery. Visitors are reminded that the lake is home to several safeguarded species and should ensure they leave the area in the same condition they found it. Show more

How do flamingo chicks reach the freshwater at Lake Natron from their nests?

After approximately two months since hatching, adult flamingoes take the chicks to the freshwater in groups, typically covering up to 30 km by foot. The overland journey is safe since there are no water-based predators between the nesting area and the lake. This trip is vital for their development and long-term survival. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin