Inspired Travel: Lake Natron in Tanzania

by  Amanda Black | May 4, 2013
Lake Natron, Tanzania
Lake Natron, Tanzania / derejeb/iStock

I'll never get tired of looking at amazing photos of colored lakes. How they come to sport their chosen vibrant color, of course, can be explained by science, but it's still pretty mind-boggling. Add Lake Natron in Tanzania to your travel bucket list! Set in the northern part of the country, close to Kenya, Natron is fed by the Southern Ewaso Ng'iro River and mineral-rich hot springs. But why the pink, red, and orange coloring (which isn't a product of Photoshop!)?

According to NASA, "As water evaporates during the dry season, salinity levels increase to the point that salt-loving organisms begin to thrive. Salt-loving organisms include some cyanobacteria, tiny bacteria that grow in water and make their own food with photosynthesis as plants do. The red pigment in the cyanobacteria produce the deep reds of the open water of the lake, and orange colors of the shallow parts of the lake."

The lake is very shallow, less than 10 feet deep, and the actual size of it varies throughout the year depending on the rate of evaporation. Thinking of taking a dip in this pink pond? We highly advise against it as temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit! Much like the Dead Sea, because of the high salt content, and in Natron's case, the high temperatures, virtually nothing lives in the water. But, the lake is actually an important ecosystem and breeding ground for flamingos, much like La Laguna Colorada! The birds feast on the nutrient-rich cyanobacteria.

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