Lake Natron is located in the northern part of Tanzania on the border of Kenya and Tanzania. The iconic alkaline lake is close to Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority Area. It is home and the largest breeding ground for thousands of Lesser Flamingos. Hosts mount Ol Doinyo Lengai; the only active volcanic mountain in Tanzania which produces carbonatite lava. The surrounding landscape is sinister due to its proximity to the deadly alkaline water body, but it is rich with rare flora and fauna species. Trails that lead from the lake to the Engero Sero waterfalls, which flow over craggy rocks into a natural pool.
Lesser Flamingo, Lake Natron
The surrounding area of the lake is also a natural habitat for other species that can survive in this dry and dusty landscape. The species include Kudus, Gerenuks, Zebras, and Ostriches. Lucky adventurers will have a glimpse of a Golden Jackal too. Although the Lake does not contain the same array of wildlife one would expect from the surrounding parks, it is fascinating and worth visiting to see life so close to such deadly waters.
Activities in Lake Natron
Bird Watching and Lake Trekking
Naturally, the lake is a hotspot for birdwatchers and bird species enthusiasts. The Lake is one of the largest regular breeding areas for Lesser Flamingos in Tanzania. The Lesser Flamingos feed on algae found in soda lakes but they choose to breed at Lake Natron almost exclusively. The best times to view these amazing birds are either at sunrise or at sunset when the scorching heat from the sun is not too furious.Continue reading
Ngare Sero Water Falls
Hiking the Rift Valley is a great alternative to blend your experience. This adventurous trek is advised to start at dawn. The walk begins at the base of the rift valley walls as you climb the wall on foot to the peak. The hike continues at a steady pace as you ascend close to the Ngare Sero Gorge. You will take a picnic breakfast with you to the top and you will enjoy being in one of the most dramatic viewpoints of the lake. After breakfast you descend back down via another route, or, depending on time, you can come back the same way depending on your interest. You will arrive back at the waterfall pool located at the foot of the peak. You can now enjoy your lunch around the natural water pool. After enjoying your lunch you can choose to relax in the natural pool or depart away. The adventure and scenery are a unique blend of arid volcanic rocks and lush tropical palm trees. It is a luring spot to have a stop and a picnic lunch.
The Best Time to Visit Lake Natron
The best time to visit this saturated alkaline lake is during the dry season from late May to late October. During this period the weather tends to be cool and temperate at night. The area becomes too hot during the short dry season from December to February, but still worth exploring.
In August, the flamingos start to gather at the lake and continue to a massive mass until October. Visiting during this period gives you a chance of seeing this spectacular gathering to the best. The dry season also provides better conditions for hiking and trekking in the surrounding area since paths can be treacherous during the wet season.
During the dry season, there is a higher level of evaporation which increases the salinity of the lake. The increase in the salinity of the lake causes cyan-bacteria to multiply at a faster rate, and this gives the lake a richer shade of pink color. The cyan-bacteria provide food for the thousands of migratory Flamingos.
Ol-Doinyo Lengai (Moutain Lengai) Trekking
It is known as, “The Mountain of God” in the Maasai language. This active Volcano Mountain is located in the Great Rift Valley escarpment. It is within the southern part of Lake Natron within the Arusha Region in Tanzania. The summit of this volcanic mountain is 2962 meters above sea level. When at the peak, it offers an acute direct view of the caldera.
It is the only active volcanic mountain known to emit carbonatite lava in Tanzania. It has a rare type of volcanic rock that is rich in sodium, potassium, and calcium carbonate with low content of silicon. Its viscosity is also lower due to the presence of lava with less silicon, making it a fascinating summit with some of the fastest-flowing lava in the world.
Location of the Mountain
It is located in the northern part of Tanzania, lying in the southern part of Lake Natron in the Rift Valley escarpments. It is in the heart of the Maasai community and is locally regarded as a sacred mountain by the surrounding ethnic habitats. When you look at the northern part whilst, on the summit, it gives a spectacular view of the hot barren salt flats of Lake Natron stretching into the distance. To the south stretches the crater Highlands and the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority Area. The eastern horizons are dominated by the Mighty Kilimanjaro and to the west, the forested escarpments and hills comprise the western slopes of the Rift Valley escarpments.
Ascending to the summit of this active volcano is advised to start around midnight and reach the summit at sunrise. The ascent of Ol Doinyo Lengai is toilsome on account of the daytime and is not recommended. This is due to lack of water, steepness, and unfitting slopes of the ash, pulverulent rocks, and considerable height gain. Unlike other highest Mountains in Tanzania, Ol-Doinyo Lengai takes about 6 – 7 hours to the summit crater. At the summit, you can take some minutes for your descent to commence. When descending, access to the route from North West trail is advised as it allows easier and early descent from the summit in the morning shadow.