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Lake Natron

This lake supports an expected 2.5 million birds as their only breeding ground. This spectacle is a sight to behold as hundreds of thousands of fabulously pink hued flamingoes feed on the lakes blue green algae.

Fast Facts

Major Attractions
  • Salt lake
  • Large flamingo population
  • Engero Sero waterfalls
  • Oldoinyo Lengai
  • Engaruka ruins
  • Walking safari
  • Trekking safari
  • Cultural tour - Hadzabe Bushmen
  • Camel safari
  • Bird safari - walk to flamingo nesting grounds and other lake inhabitants.
  • Archaeological tour - Hominid footprints
  • Aerial safari
  • 260 square kilometres(172 square miles)
  • Lake Natron is a salt lake located in northern Tanzania, close the Kenyan border, in the eastern branch of Africa’s Great Rift Valley.


Lake Natron, is situated in Africa’s Great Rift Valley. This bright red lake is the world’s most caustic body of water, but not to everything. An endemic species of fish, the alkaline tilapia, lives along the edges of the hotspring inlets, and the lake actually derives its color from salt-loving microorganisms that thrive in its alkaline waters. Spirulina, a blue-green algae with red pigments, passes its pigments along to the lesser flamingo that feed on the algae and raise their young here.

Volcanic ash from the Great Rift Valley has collected in local lake basins, creating a network of soda lakes hostile to most organisms. This forbidding environment enables Lake Natron to serve millions of flamingoes as the ideal nursery as would-be predators avoid the saline lake and leave young birds in peace. Flamingoes must exercise caution, however, because the lake can turn deadly even to them. Depending on rainfall, its alkalinity can approach that of straight ammonia, and when the lake is flooded with water that has heated underground, its temperature can reach a scalding 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

Salt marshes and freshwater wetlands around the edges of the lake do support a variety of plants

The lake is the only regular breeding ground in East Africa for the 2.5 million endangered lesser flamingo. As salinity increases, so to does the number of cyanobacteria, and the lake is able to support more nests. Lake Natron is a safe breeding ground for these flamingos as the caustic environment is a barrier against predators trying to reach their nests. Greater flamingo also breed on the mud flats.


Lake Natron attracts great numbers of the endangered lesser flamingo. This lake supports an expected 2.5 million birds as their only breeding ground. This spectacle is a sight to behold as hundreds of thousands of these pink hued birds feed on the lakes blue green algae at any one time.

The area around Lake Natron is home to some wildlife and you may see the occasional zebra or giraffe. The lake also provides support for 100,000 other waterbirds, many of which are Palearctic migrants. The only fish found in abundance in the lake is the white-lipped or alkaline tilapia (Oreochromis alcalicus), which appears to be endemic to saline Rift Valley lakes. This small fish lives on the edges of the hot spring inlets, where the water is between 36 and 40 degrees C.


This spectacular area sits just north east of the Ngorongoro Crater and forms part of Africa’s immense Great Rift Valley. Nestled between rolling volcanic hills and deep craters, Lake Natron sits at the lowest point of the Rift Valley at 600 metres above sea level, and is probably the world’s most caustic body of water.

The lake is fed by the Ewaso Ng’iro River and by mineral rich hot springs. The lake is quite shallow being less than three metres deep, and varies in width depending on its water level, which changes due to high levels of evaporation, leaving high levels of salt and other minerals. Temperatures in the lake can reach 50 degrees celsius and depending on rainfall, the alkalinity can reach a pH of 9 to 10.5(almost as alkaline as ammonia)


The weather here is significantly warmer here than at most other northern Tanzanian destinations.


The best time to visit for bird watching is November through June.

Accommodation at Lake Natron

Ol Doinyo Lengai, Volcano, Tanzania Safari, SafariHQ

Kamakea River Campsite

Kamakea River Campsite is an adventure campsite situated on the foothills of Ol Doinyo Lengai.

Lake Natron Camp2

Lake Natron Camp

Situated close to Lake Natron, Lake Natron Camp sits on the surrounding grassy flats. The camp sits alongside a natural spring which feeds into a nearby soda lake.


Lake Natron Tented Camp

Unique in its setting, Lake Natron Tented Camp is set back in a grove of trees slightly removed from the dusty terrain of the lake.