Best time to travel to Tanzania

Lake Natron in Tanzania

Stunning view on the lake attracts people from all over the world, but repels the wildlife

Best time: June–August

Lake Natron

Lake Natron is located in the Arusha Region, on the north of the country. It is fed by mineral-rich hot springs and Southern Ewaso Ng'iro River that rises in central Kenya. This huge shallow lake, 57 km long and 22 km wide, is home to lots of natural wonders. The temperature of the water is around 40 °C, and it contains lots of salt and soda. It actually got its name from the mixture of soda and minerals, called natron. Usually the pH level is above 10 and sometimes it can even be 12.

These shallow and very salty waters are dangerous for most of the wildlife. They can burn skin and eyes. These characteristics make Lake Natron one of the deadliest spots in the country. But its alkaline waters support an ecosystem of salt marshes, freshwater wetlands, and flamingos.

Amazing red, pink, and orange colours make the lake a unique and very popular destination for visitors. The variety of colours changes due to the evaporation process and concentration level of cyanobacteria. The best months to visit Lake Natron are the coolest ones—from June to August. Dry season is perfect for walking and trekking around the lake. During the dry season, the water in the lake evaporates and concentration of salts and microorganisms gets higher, creating amazing colours. The wet season brings lots of rain and thunderstorms, which damage most of the trails and even roads around this area.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Lake Natron?

The ideal months to visit Lake Natron are from June to August, as they offer a cooler environment for tourists. However, the wet season comes with rain and thunderstorms, which can ruin trails and main roads around the area. During this period, the concentration of microorganisms and salts in the lake increases and results in beautiful colors. Show more

Where is Lake Natron located?

Lake Natron is located in the Arusha region in northern Tanzania. It receives mineral-rich water from hot springs and the Southern Ewaso Ng'iro River, which originates from central Kenya. The ecosystem around Lake Natron consists of several species of wildlife, including the lesser flamingo, which feeds on crustaceans and algae found in the lake. Show more

How does Lake Natron support an ecosystem?

Although it is considered a hazardous environment for most wildlife, various species have adapted to survive in Lake Natron's unique ecosystem. Some of the organisms that rely on the lake's salt marshes and freshwater wetlands for survival include flamingos, which feed on blue-green algae, and other animals that depend on crustaceans and cyanobacteria as a food source. Show more

What is the danger of Lake Natron for wildlife?

Only a few species can live in Lake Natron's extreme conditions as the salt concentration, temperature, and alkalinity can burn their skin and eyes. The pH level can increase to 12, which is dangerous to almost all living creatures. However, several salt-loving organisms have adapted to the ecosystem to make Lake Natron their home. Show more

What is the reason for the unique colors of Lake Natron?

Lake Natron's evaporation process and high concentration of cyanobacteria cause its unique colors. When the water evaporates, the salt concentration increases, and the surface becomes highly reflective. Cyanobacteria thrive in the alkaline water, producing pigments that create the lake's pink, orange, and red colors. The color intensity varies depending on the intensity of the light and bacteria concentration in the water. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin