Tour Guide

The reality of Tanzania's red lake, Lake Natron

By Malvika Kashyap

August 9, 2022

Lake Guide Team

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In Tanzania, East Africa, Lake Natron is not like other lakes. First of all, it is red in hue, with hints of pink and orange.


The unusually high alkaline content of this lake's water is what makes it dangerous. The lake has a pH level that is equal to that of ammonia. Here is more information on it.

Why is Lake Natron regarded as dangerous? Animals who are not accustomed to this lake's very alkaline water, which has a pH as high as 10.5, risk having their skin and eyes burned.

The lake is brimming with sodium carbonate and certain salts that the volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai has produced. Animals or birds that fall into the caustic lake develop a crust on their bodies.

Why is the lake's hue red? The water in the lake doesn't flow out like it does in other lakes; instead, it keeps accumulating.

The lake's temperature can increase to 60 degrees Celsius. High levels of salt are left behind after the water evaporates.

Its red colour is from the proliferation of haloarchaea, salt-loving microbes, in this hypersaline environment. The region gets extremely little rain as well.

Can creatures survive in this lake? The lake is a flamingo paradise. They are protected against burns by their thick skin. 

Additionally, the lake is a secure environment for breeding since its toxicity deters predators. Notably, certain fish and invertebrate species can thrive closer to the lake's edges.

Do birds in Lake Natron actually turn to stone? Anyone who dives into the lake will become calcified. This indicates that the lake's salt hardens their bodies, giving them a stone-like appearance.

This effect is brought on by sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. These two items were indeed utilised by the Egyptians to mummify their deceased.

If you need walking tours around the lake, you can choose to visit it during the dry or rainy season. But avoid attempting to swim in it.


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