Located in the northern part of Tanzania in a dry area is Lake Natron, the deadliest Lake in the whole country due to the many dead birds and animals that are always found along its banks. Lake Natron is unique in many ways first with its high levels of alkalinity that are caused by a nearby volcano, part of the Lake is found in southern Kenya and it sometimes turns red, yes it does turn red and we believe you have not seen a red Lake anywhere else! The Lake is over 56 kilometers long and 24 kilometers wide and just over 100 kilometers from Arusha.

Lake Natron Tanzania
Flamingos feeding at the shores of Lake Natron

What makes Lake Natron a must-visit on your safari to Tanzania includes the many facts that make the Lake a unique feature in northern Tanzania and these include:

  • Lake Natron has a temperature that can rise to 60 degrees Celsius during the dry season and the eastern shore of the Lake has hot springs.
  • The lake receives what we refer to as phantom rain and this is where the rainwater evaporates before hitting the ground due to the too much heat.
  • The water got from Lake Natron is extremely poisonous because it contains salt and soda deposits which are harmful to internal organs.
  • The water sometimes turns red and this is due to the red to orange algae that are found in the Lake.
  • Lake Natron receives its water from the volcanic Ol Doinyo Lengai Mountain and it has no outlets.
  • Natron is the largest breeding space for the lesser flamingos in the world.

Attractions near Lake Natron

The Rift Valley

This is one of the top tourist attractions in the area and a trek through the Rift valley should not be missed by tourists visiting Lake Natron. The trek through the rift Valley takes you to the Ngare Sero gorge.

Ol Doinyo Lengai

The Ol Doinyo Lengai is a volcanic Mountain found in northern Tanzania and the main source of water for Lake Natron. It is referred to as a sacred Mountain by locals who believe that God lives at the summit of the Ol Doinyo Lengai. Tourists hiking up the Mountain will be able to see Mountain Kilimanjaro, and a clear view of the Crater Lake and Lake Natron. Note that there have been eruptions on the Mountain with the last one that happened in 1967.

Ngare Sero Waterfalls

The hikes that are organized will take you to the Ngare Sero gorge where the magnificent falls can be seen as the water hits the volcanic rocks. Hiking to the Ngare Sero waterfalls is best done during the dry season when the rocks are not slippery.

Plunge pool at Natron

Unlike the poisonous water of Lake Natron, the plunge pool is filled with spring water and tourists can go swimming to cool off the heat that is experienced during the dry season in the already hot desert. The natural pool is very safe and you can swim all year round.

Safari activities carried out around Lake Natron

Although Lake Natron is considered to be a poisonous and deadly Lake, there are several safari activities that you can engage in and these include:

 Guided Nature walks at Natron

Walks around the Lake can only be carried out in the presence of a tour guide and they will take you to the forest where several giraffes are seen, the human-preserved human preserved footprints to be over 12000 years old, and the Ngare Sero gorge. The walk is a rewarding one as you also get to see the large lesser flamingo flocks around the Lake that seem not to be affected by the alkaline waters.

Authentic Masai Tribe Visits

Authentic Masai Lake NatronVisiting the authentic Maasai village visits are part of the Lake Natron safari experience. They live in Engaresaro and a cultural trip to their villages can be arranged by your tour guide so that you get to learn more about their culture and their ways of life. The Masai have a unique culture starting with their homesteads locally known as Bomas which are constructed using local material, their jumping dance, a special meal of blood and milk from their cows, and the famous brightly colored clothes coupled with locally made jewellery which is sold to tourists as a way of sustaining their homesteads. Explore the Masai and learn through the stories told by the elders about their unique culture.

Flamingo watching at Lake Natron (Lake Walk)

Unlike other bird species and animals that die after drinking the Natron water, Lake Natron is a hub for lesser flamingos and these thrive while at the Lake making it the largest lesser flamingo Lake in the world. The flamingos feed on the algae that make the water turn red and they are best seen during the dry season.

Hiking up the Ol Donyo Mountain

The name Oldoinyo Lengai is a Masai word that translate to as ‘the Mountain of God’. Oldoinyo Lengai rises to 2962 m above sea level. A hike will reward you with beautiful sceneries of Lake Natron, Crater Lake, and Mountain Kilimanjaro. Note that weather conditions will highly determine whether the climb up Ol Donyo is okay or not and we advise that you follow all the guidelines given to you by your tour guide.

How do I get to Lake Natron?

Lake Natron is a 3 hours’ drive from Mto w a mbu town which is found in the northern part of Tanzania near Lake Manyara National Park. You can either self-drive to the Lake or book through a local tour operator to organize a safari for you with a trained and experienced driver guide. Getting to Lake Natron is not an easy fit due to the dusty and dry roads leading to the Lake but the reward is the fascinating Lake and the attractions that are around it. It is home to the Masai people and the lesser pink flamingos.

Most of the off the beaten Northern safari tour itineraries include Lake Natron as well as the Hadzabe Bushmen tour, one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes living at Lake Eyasi, Tanzania.

Best time to visit Lake Natron

This is an all-year-round destination because it is located in a desert and as you plan your safari to the Lake, do not forget to carry lots of bottled water because the weather might become unbearable. Get more information on the best time to visit Tanzania for safari which also coincides with the best time to visit Lake Natron.