The few tourists who go as far as Lake Natron WMA have the privilege of immersing themselves in a unique and unforgettable African landscape! On a lake as black as lava, red as the pigment of the bacteria that proliferate there, blue as the sky, pink as the feathers of the flamingos, stands out the profile of the “mountain of God”, the volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai.
In this land of Masai, who climb the volcano to pay homage to the gods who inhabit the interior of the crater, the echo of the western world almost does not arrive: absence of cellular signal, dim electricity, and an impalpable lightness, like flamingos hovering on the lake. It is not surprising to find here a rich presence of Masai, which make this place a real corner of Africacrystallized over time. The integration between traditional life and tourism seems particularly successful here and the smiles of the girls who will struggle to sell their jewelry will remain in your heart, together with the explanations that their fathers will be able to give you on the lake and on this arid and brilliant portion of Africa.
from 1 to 2 days for visiting the park
1.040 km² of which up to 800 km² of lake
400 km² of permanent lake (bigger than Lake Garda!)
the shores of the lake can be reached with a suggestive walk on the lava ground interrupted by torrents, accompanied by a Masai guide
near the lake, the important archaeological site Engare Sero Footprints, reachable on foot during the excursion to the lake, accompanied by a Masai guide: a small area with the footprints of a walk dated between 6,000 and 19.000 years ago
a short distance away, a beautiful hike to the Engare Sero waterfalls, reachable with an hour of trekking, accompanied by a Masai guide; a must shoes suitable for the rocks, as you have to climb the rocks crossing the creek several times; arrived at the top, you can cool off in the pond and have fun letting yourself slide on the rocks under the stream of the waterfall
The area of Lake Natron is one of the most evocative places of the entire African continent: a spooky lake, whose origins date back to a million and a half years ago, no more than 50 cm deep, which extends for 58 km in length and between 15 and 24 km in width from Kenya to Tanzania, changing its color, its shape and its surface depending on the rains and the season. Its waters are anything but inviting: fed mainly by the Ewaso Ng’iro River at the northern end, they evaporate rapidly due to the arid climate, and are strongly characterized by an unusual chemistry, due to over 20 underground springs from the volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai, 20 km south of the lake. Molten mixtures of sodium carbonatite (natron) and calcium carbonate salts arrive at the lake through a fault system, giving the water an alkaline level almost equal to that of ammonia and a temperature that can reach up to 60 º C.
Very few animal species are able to live in such an environment, which on the contrary is the ideal habitat for some microorganisms, such as the spirulina alga, which stain of pink and red the shallow water, and for the minor flamingos, which of the spirulina alga are nourished, and which contributes to the rose of their feathers. The safety of the place, inaccessible to predators, makes it between August and October the most important reproduction and nesting site of lesser flamingos in the world: in East Africa there are over two million smaller flamingos, or three quarters of the world population, and most of them were born in Lake Natron! The survival of the lesser flamingos passes from the protection of Lake Natron from the temptations of exploitation of the site for the extraction of soda. Besides the flamingos, in the extreme habitat of the waters of the lake has managed to settle only one species of fish, the endemic white-lipped tilapia (Oreochromis alcalica).
The landscape that characterizes the Lake Natron WMA is one of the most vivid evidence of the geological origins of the Rift Valley, on which stands the volcano, lava black, which when in contact with water turns into bright white ash, impressive enough to deserve the name Ol Donyo Lengai, or Mountain of God. The bright contrast that characterizes it is due to the fact that it is the only volcano in the world whose lava consists of sodium carbonatite (natron), similar to petroleum, which flows from its slopes at a temperature that, for a volcano, can be considered cold (500 º C compared to over 1.000 º C normal for lava)!
Although not a park to visit for the wildlife, during the excursions you can easily see zebras, gazelles and other animals.
lake species: • Flamingo • Lesser Flamingo⚑ • Chestnut-banded Plover⚑⚑
other species:• Yellow-necked Francolin⚑ • Kori Bustard⚑⚑• White-backed Vulture⚑⚑ • Von der Decken’s Hornbill⚑ • Abyssinian Scimitarbill⚑• European Roller⚑ • Grey-headed Kingfisher⚑ • Red-and-yellow Barbet⚑• D’Arnaud’s Barbet⚑ • Fischer’s Lovebird⚑⚑ • Rosy-patched Bush-shrike⚑• Red-throated Tit⚑ • Fischer’s Sparrow-lark⚑ • Ashy Cisticola⚑ • Northern Pied Babbler⚑ • Hildebrandt’s Starling⚑ • Mourning Wheatear⚑ • Blue-capped Cordon-bleu⚑• Kenya Sparrow⚑ • Swahili Sparrow⚑… and several other
⚑ Tanzania endemic
⚑ Near endemic
ACTIVITIES INCLUDED IN OUR SAFARIS
Our programs include the excursion to the lake and the archaeological site and the excursion to the waterfalls.
Entry to the National Parks in Tanzania is allowed to licensed off-road vehicles of local tour operators with a valid license. The paths of the safaris are strictly bound to the trails. The strict regulation of parks has the laudable aim of safeguarding the inestimable natural heritage and supporting the local economy. The “DIY tourism” presents many unknowns and therefore becomes difficult to practice. With us, local tour operator with Italian participation, you can realize your dream of a tailor-made safari! Contact us
Visit to a Masai village
Trekking before sunrise on the Ol Doinyo Lengai (4 to 6 hours for the climb, suitable for everyone but rather challenging especially in the final stretch)
Full day excursion to the north-eastern shore of the lake, nesting area of minor flamingos (3 hours in 4×4, exploration on foot accompanied by a Masai guide)
For information on transit fees and park accommodation, already included in the price of our safaris, visit the Park Fees page. The system of taxation of tourism in the parks of Tanzania is the necessary contribution to the conservation of an uncontaminated and wild natural heritage, of inestimable environmental value.
For general information about all parks in Tanzania and about this park – when to go, where is it, nearby destinations – go to Parks of Tanzania page