Natron, the deadly lake

North Tanzania Itineraries

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Lake Natron, a surprisingly remote 50-km long area whose waters are only half a metre deep, lies close to the border with Kenya, at the northeastern edge of Ngorongoro. The place is a must of every safary, a Mecca for tourists with its enchanted, almost unearthly landscape of incomparabile beauty.

A red lake

The flamingo paradise, from the end of May to September is home to nearly 3 million flamingoes that gather on the lake for the mating season, in one of the most amazing natural spectacle on earth. The lake, known as the cursed place which petrifies every living being, is one of the spookiest but most fascinating places on the planet.
Located in northern Tanzania, in the african Rift Valley at about 600 m above sea level, the lake owes its name to a natural compound formed mainly by sodium bicarbonate. Its waters have a very high Ph, between 9 and 10.5, and can reach a temperature of even 60°C!
Its distinctive colour, deep red with white surficial streaks, is due to the accumulation of sodium, which is common to such types of lakes where intense evaporation cycles occur.


Soda and salt cause a very unusual phenomenon known as embalming / petrifaction, which many animals fall victim to. Mystery or science? Petrifaction is science-based and depends, as just said, on the high temperature and basicity of the lake's waters that, after an animal has died, make its corpse undergo a process of calcification and relevant mummification: mystery explained. But what about the pink flamingo? Why nothing bad happens to it? The reason for its immunity to the lake's deadly waters is to be found in a hornlike layer covering its paws and beak which protects the flamingo from the calcifying action. What's more, the presence of a large population of cyanobacteria, the microorganisms whose body contains a red pigment that makes these waters red-orange in colour, is the flamingo's favourite dish on the list, creating the perfect feeding ground for the birds especially during the dry season, from June to October.


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