Tour to Lake Natron and to the site where pink flamingos usually nest

27 e 28 August 2013 

The region of Lake Natron is interesting for landscapes and for the geological features of the Rift Valley, dominated by volcanoes and rocks resulting from the solidification of different types of lava. With a little luck (but it wasn't our case) it could be possible to observe millions of pink flamingos during nesting, an unforeseeable event that happens in favorable years only (in any case, a tour to Lake Natron is an interesting diversion to distract a couple of days by lions and gazelles, so you will not waste your time because the place is beautiful).

Rift Valley panorama
Approaching the Lake Natron, along the dusty track that connects it to the Serengeti, a view of the lake itself and of the expanses of salt and soda present along the banks slowly opens.
Compared to the parks of northern Tanzania, the landscape in the region of Lake Natron radically changes and everything looks much more arid.
Ancient volcanic cone
Ancient caldera
The track between Lake Natron and Arusha runs through remains of ancient volcanoes and calderas.
Ancient lava flow
The volcanic soil characterizes the region that includes Lake Natron.
Rose of the desert Seeds of Adenium obesum
Flower of Adenium obesum

Lake Natron area is home to many Adenium obesum, a succulent caudiciform plant (caudiciform means that the base of the trunk is enlarged to accumulate water to be used during dry periods) that produces beautiful flowers in shades of pink.

Reaching the shores of Lake Natron, the Ol Doinyo Lengai ("Mountain of God" in the local Maasai language) dominates the landscape with its 2882 meters of altitude. The peculiarity of this volcano is to produce lava Natro-carbonatitic rather cold (about 500 degrees centigrade) and very liquid.

The excursion programmed for today in Natron lake region includes a short trek along a picturesque narrow canyon to reach the Ngaresero waterfalls.
Trek to Ngaresero falls
Masai guide

The walk inside the canyon is not particularly difficult or tiring, although one must cross the river several times (in the dry season the water generally arrives at the knees) or it may be necessary to help ourselves with hands between the rocks.
Ngaresero falls
In less than an hour, the walk is rewarded with the arrival to Ngaresero waterfalls and to the natural pool below.
Bath below the waterfall
Under the waterfall

Ngaresero picture. The water is not too cold, so a swim in the natural pool below the waterfall is pleasant and enjoyable.
Ol Doinyo Lengai
A tour around the shores of Lake Natron offers a landscape dominated by the volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai.
Natron lake Donkeys
The Natron lake view is not optimal because of the haze formed mainly by dust, but the banks still offer the chance to spot some flamingos and wildebeest grazing along the shores, as well as herds of donkeys bred by the Masai.
Lake Natron pictures. The primary purpose of this tour to Lake Natron, would have to be to observe the reproduction of flamingos during the breeding season, when this area see about 2.5 million of breeding flamingos. Observing this phenomenon, however, is not simple because it doesn't happens every year and it is said that the site chosen is not always sufficiently close to the accessible areas of the lake. Unfortunately we were not lucky enough to be able to see the spectacle of nesting flamingos, but the tour in lake Natron has still offered the opportunity to enjoy unusual landscapes that do not exist in other parts of the world.
Pink flamingo egg Dried fish
Tilapia alcalina Dead flamingo
Along the shores of Lake Natron, the drought has caused the evaporation of much of the water, thus causing the accumulation of salts that tend to "mummify" any animal's remains, as unfortunate pink flamingo chicks, eggs and fishes. In the photo below on the left, an image of the Tilapia alcalina, one of the very few species of fish that can survive in the caustic and strongly saline waters of Lake Natron.
Nikon 10.5 fisheye
Hiking around Natron lake over world of salt (Nikon 10.5 fisheye).
Died chick
We observe a pink flamingo egg that never hatched, in which you can still see the "prototype" of the chick.
Soda on Natron lake Salt on Natron lake
Photos of Natron lake. The shores of Lake Natron covered with a thick crust of salt.
A group photo.
Salt lake
Natron lake photos. The salts of Lake Natron deposited along the banks dried up by drought.
Adenium obesum Desert rose
Photos of Adenium obesum. In the area around Lake Natron, we continue to see numerous Adenium obesum that this time of year are covered with beautiful pink flowers.
Hot springs in Tanzania
The area around Lake Natron, highly volcanic, is home to hot springs where you can bathe in the natural pools. Surprisingly, these small pools fed by hot spring water, despite its small size and the apparent isolation from large bodies of water, are home to a good number of colorful fish (pictured below right).
Pink flamingos Flamingos on Natron lake
Flamingo Natron pink flamingo
Flamingos photos. A short walk at dawn along the shores of Lake Natron allows you to see some pink flamingos who walk and feed in the shallow waters near the shore.
Where to stay on lake Natron
Natron Tented Camp

During the tour to Lake Natron we are staying at the Lake Natron Tented Camp, one of the few facilities in the region. It should be noted that the level of this structure is below the average of the lodges found in national parks of Tanzania although, in our opinion, it does not lack any comfort.

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