Everything You Need To Know About The Dangerously Beautiful Lake Natron In Tanzania

Tanzania is an East African country known for its vast wilderness areas. 

They include the plains of Serengeti National Park, a safari mecca populated by the “big five” game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), and Kilimanjaro National Park, home to Africa’s highest mountain.

Offshore lie the tropical islands of Zanzibar, with Arabic influences, and Mafia, with a marine park home to whale sharks and coral reefs.

One of the popular places attracting tourists in Tanzania is Lake Natron which is a mineral-rich soda lake in the northern part of the country just at the border with Kenya.

Colored a deep red from salt-loving organisms and algae, the lake reaches hellish temperatures and is nearly as basic as ammonia.

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Although most human settlements throughout history have formed around lakes and rivers, Lake Natron is an exception. It has killed thousands of animals that couldn’t survive its harsh condition.

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However, the lake is now a breeding ground for 2.5 million flamingos, despite the highly alkaline state of the striking red waters, making the preservation of the lake an environmental concern.

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The lake sits below Ol Doinyo Lengai, a soaring active volcano in the Rift Valley. The alkaline water in Lake Natron has a pH as high as 10.5 and is so caustic it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren’t adapted to it.

The water’s alkalinity comes from the sodium carbonate and other minerals that flow into the lake from the surrounding hills.

And deposits of sodium carbonate — which was once used in Egyptian mummification — also acts as a fantastic type of preservative for the animals unlucky enough to die in the waters of Lake Natron.

Lake Natron is one of two alkaline lakes in that area of East Africa; the other is Lake Bahi.

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Both are terminal lakes that do not drain out to any river or sea; they are fed by hot springs and small rivers.

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As shallow lakes in a hot climate, their water temperatures can reach as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius).

Lake Natron has immense tourist attraction potentials that are important for ecotourism development. 

However, lack of a general management plan, inadequate funding at the operational level, lack of mechanisms to secure a fair distribution of ecotourism benefits, and poorly developed tourism infrastructural facilities to support diverse segments of tourists were identified as the main challenges associated with the management of ecotourism in the area. 

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