Top 10 Colorful Facts About Lake Natron

This lake in East Africa is not the only lake in the world that produces a mesmerizing pink hue, but it’s definitely one of the biggest ones.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Lake Natron, one of the most fascinating pink lakes in the world.

1. It’s located in the northern part of Tanzania

Lake Natron is a remarkable lake located in the northern part of Tanzania, right near the border with Kenya. It’s a popular tourist attraction because of its fascinating pink hue.

It is somewhat overshadowed, though, by the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, which is located just to the east of the lake, and the immense Lake Victoria, situated at a similar distance to the west.

In between both lakes, you can also find the “Serengeti National Park.” This vast nature reserve is the world-famous wildebeest migration, one of the so-called “Eight Natural Wonders of the World.” Large herds of these animals flock together and go on a serious hike once a year.

Yes, this is quite an interesting part of Africa that has quite a bit to offer in terms of natural wonders.

Lake Natron facts
View of the lake / Richard Mortel /

2. It’s one of the many extremely salty pink lakes in the world

The pink hue that this lake produces isn’t unique by any means because there are plenty of similar other extremely salty lakes in this world that produce a similar color effect.

This ranges from bubblegum pink, such as Lake Hillier in Australia, to a bright red hue of the Koyashskoye Salt Lake near the Crimean Peninsula.

This particular lake in the east of Africa is quite fascinating in the sense that it produces a variety of colors. This ranges from dark red in the deepest parts to orange in the shallow parts of the lake.

3. The pink hue is caused by a particular microorganism in the lake

So what causes Lake Natron to turn pink?

Just like the other pink lakes, evaporation causes the salt levels to become so high that multiple microorganisms emerge in the water that thrives in these conditions.

Some of these include several algae and cyanobacteria that can feed themselves in the same way plants do with photosynthesis. This feature is the main reason why the water can turn bright red in the deepest parts of the lake.

lake natron color
Detail of the lake’s color / Wiki Commons

4. It’s a big shallow lake that varies in width quite a bit

Even though the lake is pretty much dwarfed by its much bigger brother to the west, Lake Victoria, it’s still one of the biggest pink lakes in the world.

It has a maximum length of 57 kilometers (35 miles) and a maximum width of 22 kilometers (14 miles). It’s also a relatively shallow lake with a maximum depth of just 3 meters (9.8 feet).

Because the lake is located in an extremely hot location with common temperatures of over 40 °C (104 °F) throughout the year, the water evaporates a lot. This means that the size of the lake shrinks quite a bit during the hottest parts of the year.

5. The lake is a popular hangout for an amazingly beautiful bird

Even though very few animals can live in or near the lake apart from the salt-loving organism that causes the lake to turn red, it’s still a popular location for one particular animal.

The lake is remarkably the main breeding location of the “Lesser Flamingo” (Phoeniconaias minor), a species of flamingo that lives in this part of Africa.

An estimated 2.5 million Lesser Flamingos breed here throughout the year, a number that makes it all the more surprising that these birds are classified as near threatened.

The reason is that these beautiful birds are pretty much dependent on this one location in East Africa for their survival, the fascinating pink Lake Natron.

Flamingos lake Natron
The flamingos hanging out / Richard Mortel /

More interesting facts about Lake Natron

6. Apart from being surrounded by fascinating natural wonders, the lake itself is also a very significant location. It’s one of the so-called “Ramsar Site,” an organization that aims to protect wetlands of immense importance.

This agreement was signed in 1971 in the city of Ramsar in Iran, which is why it was called this way. Lake Natron was designated on July 4, 2001, because it’s crucial for the existence of the Lesser Flamingo.

7. Very few animals can live in and around the lake because of its extremely high level of salt. The lake can reach a level of pH of over 12, which is in between Ammonia and Bleach on the pH scale.

That’s not the only reason why the lake isn’t hospitable for animals, though, because it’s also extremely hot. The water inside the lake often reaches temperatures of up to 60 °C (140 °F).

8. The rainfall in this part of Africa happens seasonally and can be quite intense at times. That’s why an estimated 800 millimeters (31 inches) falls here which helps to feed the lake.

Lake Natron dark clouds
Dark clouds above the lake / Benh Lieu Song /

The main inlet of the lake is the “Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River,” a name that translates to “Brown RIver.” This river is extremely important for both the lake and the Lesser Flamingos that use the lake as a breeding ground.

9. The best part about the preservation status of the lake is the fact that the area surrounding it is not inhabited. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t plans that could harm the biodiversity in the area.

One of the biggest threats to date is the construction of the hydroelectrical power plant in Kenya on the river that feeds the lake, and a “soda ash plant” that would pump water out of the lake to produce washing powder.

Luckily, none of these plans have materialized so far which means that the millions of Lesser Flamingos breeding here remain safe for now.

10. Even though there aren’t any facilities near the lake, there are a couple of campsites in the area for tourists to visit. These eco-friendly facilities allow you to explore the region of the magnificent lake.

Most of these camps are located near the southern tip of the lake near the foot of “Ol Doinyo Lengai” or “Mountain of God,” an active volcano and a popular mountain to hike.

Ol Doinyo Lengai seen from Lake Natron
Ol Doinyo Lengai seen from the lake / Clem23 /