Lake Natron is a salt or soda lake not far from Lake Manyara in northern Tanzania. It is located in the Gregory Rift, the eastern branch of the East African Rift. The lake lays at the foot of the Ol Doinyo Lengai, an active volcano.

Lake Natron is quite shallow, less than three meters deep, and varies in width depending on its water level. The lake is 57 kilometers long and 22 kilometers wide. The area receives irregular seasonal rainfall, mainly between December and May. The temperatures at the lake are often over 40 °C.


Lake Natron is situated in northern Tanzania on the border with Kenya, close to the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The lake is in the vicinity of Ol Doinyo Lengai, which is visible in the southern part. Lake Natron covers an area 56 km (35 miles) long and 24 km (15 miles) wide, but the water level changes due to evaporation. The shallow and alkaline lake has different springs, the Ewaso Ng’iro River, and different hot springs. The surface of Lake Natron, which has high salt, magnesite, and sodium carbonate concentrations, is covered with a pinkish-white soda crust.

The area around the lake offers different attractions such as many volcanic implosion craters, numerous waterfalls, and ravines with nesting places for Rüppell’s Griffon Vultures. Among the most prominent attractions of Lake Natron are the Gelai Volcano, a 2,942 m (9,652 feet) high volcano in the southeastern part, and the archeological site of Peninj, where archeologists discovered the Peninj Mandible – the fossilized teeth of Australopithecus boisei.

Some activities at Lake Natron are swimming, a visit to Maasai Boma, or a simple trek to the Ngorongoro Crater Highlands with numerous craters.

The area has a beautiful wildlife
A lake is a breeding place for thousands of Rift Valley Flamingos. They build their nests using the soda flats between August and October. The flamingos of Lake Natron feed with the lake’s Spirulina algae. Because the flamingos use this area for breeding, the lake and its surrounding are under International concern for preservation. Other animals which inhabit this area are zebra, ostrich, fringed eared oryx, gazelle, gerenuk, lesser kudu, and golden jackal.

Kiwoito Africa Safari gives you insight into the type and quality of lodging experience about the guiding standards augmented with the location, key attractions such as a lake, and water sources, wildlife, scenic highlands, logistical accessibility, and many other factors to gauge an expectation of what you should receive during your adventurous vacation in northern Tanzania. The two accommodations are Moivaro Lake Natron Tented Camp and Ngare Sero Lake Natron Camp, both are Tier 3 budget accommodations. Moivaro offers nine guest tents with simple furnishings, as well as four basic bands with running water, a flush toilet, a shower, and electricity. Ngare Sero Lake Natron Camp offers eight Bedo-style tents that are designed with traditional methods to keep you cool during the day. Meals at these camps satisfy your appetite and dishes are prepared with local ingredients, such as meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, and more, and special dietary needs can be accommodated during your exploratory safari

The scenery around Lake Natron is what attracts visitors to the region during their active-adventure travels in East Africa. The dramatic landscape is dotted with many of Tanzania’s most recognizable landmarks, such as Ol Doinyo Lengai and Gelai volcano, a 9652-foot peak located at the southeast edge of the lake. To the west is the site where a perfectly preserved hominid jaw and teeth, known as the “Peninj mandible” was found. Touring Lake Natron in expedition mode with AfricanMecca encompasses a variety of activities, such as walking safaris, flamingo walks, volcano climbing, and cultural tours. At Moivaro Lake Natron Tented Camp, walking safaris allow you to follow in the footsteps of the Maasai people, following paths to some of the most interesting localities, such as hot springs, waterfalls, and much more. The camp also offers visits to a local Maasai village. In addition to these activities, the second camp — Ngare Sero Lake Natron Camp, also offers flamingo walks on the shores of the lake. You watch the splendor as these avifauna hunt for food and fill the skies with a spectacular display of pink and subtle black. While staying at this camp, you may also trek to the southern shores of the lake to see human footprints that date back 120,000 years, and the camp also offers trekking by camel, a very exciting adventure for your wilderness trip to Lake Natron.

As you plan your Kiwoito dream safari in northern Tanzania, you should consider the weather and outdoor temperature so that you prepare properly, and also have the opportunity to relax and enjoy your activities. The weather at Lake Natron is primarily hot and mostly dry, and the coolest months are June through August, but some guests find these temperatures tropically warm as well since Tanzania is located just south of the equator. It also does get very windy at Natron. You may choose to schedule your tour of East Africa during the rainy or dry season at Lake Natron. Since this area is not a wildlife destination, the dry season does not see any concentration of wildlife – simply because the lake is highly alkaline, and terrestrial and mammalian life do not drink its waters. You only want to visit during the dry season because it is an excellent time for walking tours around the lake, and also for trekking up Ol Doinyo Lengai.

Lake Natron Frequently Asked Questions (FAqs)

1. How many days do we recommend spending here?

We recommend a minimum of two days at Lake Natron. During the two days, you can visit the lake, look out for birds, meet the Maasai, and visit the base of Ol Doinyo Lengai. If you are interested in hiking then you might want to spend a couple of extra days.

2. Which place is better for hiking?

Ol Doinyo Lengai and Ngare Sero Waterfall, both are rewarding in their ways. Ol Doinyo is the third highest peak in Tanzania, and the hike will take about 6- 12 hours. The hike is quite difficult as it is rocky, slippery, hot, and quite steep.
The summit however will be cold so it is recommended that you carry warm clothes. The view from the top will be magnificent, however. If you’re in for the adventure then you must surely go for it.
The Ngare Sero hike is easier. It will take about two hours and the trail is quite basic. But some regions will be filled with water so you must dress accordingly.
At the end of the trail, you will be able to take a dip in the pool at the base of the waterfall. There will be plenty of rocks and palm trees to provide you with shade.
So, it depends on what suits you more.

3. Will the Lake be red when I visit it?
The redness of the lake is not a fixed color. It appears red when the algae in it blooms. While the algae are declining the lake might instead appear in different shades of orange. And at other times it might not seem red or orange at all.
While you are there you can always ask your guides to take you to the region where the lake might appear reddish.

4. Will I be able to spot the Flamingos?
You should be able to spot the Flamingos from August to October. Before going, please check with your tour operator whether the Flamingos have
arrived in the region or not.

5. What is the mystery behind Lake Natron?
The mystery behind Lake Natron is its eerie ability to turn animal corpses into stone. The lake’s high sodium bicarbonate content preserves the
animal’s body, leaving behind statue-like figures.

6. Can Lake Natron turn you into stone?
Not at all. However, you may have a corrosive burn if you touch the water for quite some time.

7. What is the best time to visit Lake Natron?
You can visit Lake Natron year-round. However, the ideal time to visit there would be during the dry season—from late May to early November, which happens to be slightly cooler.
Visiting, particularly in August, is a good option since flamingos gather around the lake at this time.

8. Can you go to Lake Natron?
You can go to Lake Natron for its spectacular scenery and the possibility of taking a challenging night hike to Oldoinyo Lengai, the mountain of God.

9. How salty is Lake Natron?

The salty water in Lake Natron has a pH of over 10.5 and reports said that the water is so caustic that it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren’t adapted to it. The lake gets its blood-red tone from Bacteria, which can tolerate harsh conditions

10. How hot is Lake Natron?

About 140 degrees Fahrenheit Depending on rainfall, its alkalinity can approach that of straight ammonia, and when the lake is flooded with water that has heated underground, its temperature can reach a scalding 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

11. Do fish live in Lake Natron?

Most animals find the lake’s high temperature (up to 60 °C [140 °F]) and its high and variable salt content inhospitable. Nonetheless, Lake Natron is home to some endemic algae, invertebrates, and birds. In the slightly less salty water around its margins, some fish can also survive.

12. What chemicals are in Lake Natron?
Unlike those other lakes, though, Lake Natron is extremely alkaline, due to high amounts of the chemical natron (a mix of sodium carbonate and baking soda) in the water.

13. Can animals live in Lake Natron?
Wildlife at Lake Natron Although the lake is deadly to most animals, a unique ecosystem has developed in this harsh environment, creating fascinating opportunities for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers. Salt marshes and freshwater wetlands have formed, creating a habitat for the long-legged waterfowl.

14. Can humans swim in Lake Natron?
Despite its mesmerizing beauty, swimming in Lake Natron is not advisable. The lake’s high alkalinity makes the water caustic, capable of causing burns to human skin and eyes.

15. What happens to animals in Lake Natron?
Due to the peculiar chemical composition of the lake water, animals that die here or stay submerged gradually turn into hard calcified stone-like sculptures and are preserved over time. The high alkalinity of the water halts the decomposition process.

16. What microorganisms are in Lake Natron?
‘’Cyanobacteria’’ The red color comes from bacteria, The lake’s salinity has welcomed salt-consuming, halophilic microorganisms
called cyanobacteria, which need photosynthesis to survive. Generally, cyanobacteria carry different pigments. In Lake Natron, their pigment paints the water a striking red.

17. How did Lake Natron get its name?
The lake takes its name from natron, a naturally occurring compound made mainly of sodium carbonate, with a bit of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) thrown in. Here, this has come from volcanic ash, accumulated from the Great Rift valley.

18. How deep is Lake Natron?
The lake is quite shallow, less than three meters deep, and varies in width depending on its water level.

19. Why visit Lake Natron?
Wildlife of Lake Natron There is good game viewing and birding in this harsh landscape with dry country species such as gerenuk, lesser kudu, and oryx a specialty. Natron is also the only known breeding ground for East Africa’s millions of lesser flamingos which cover the lake between August and October.

20. Why do animals become stone after touching Lake Natron?
When animals come in contact with the water of Lake Natron, calcium salts start accumulating in their body tissue, a process which is called calcification. As chances of survival are next to nothing, animals that fall into the lake start appearing as stones on the surface.

21. How is Lake Natron formed?

Thought to be about 1.5 million years old, Natron is a product of the same tectonic activity that formed the Ngorongoro Highlands and Mount Gelai, the latter being a 2,941m-high extinct volcano that rises from the eastern

22. What color is natron?
Natron is white to colorless when pure, varying to gray or yellow with impurities. Natron deposits are sometimes found in saline lake beds which
arose in arid environments.

23. What is another name for natron?
Another important sodium mineral is natron or sodium carbonate

24. Is natron flammable?
Natron’s batteries were tested and found not to sustain either off-gassing or fire.

25. which river drains into Lake Natron?
Southern Ewaso Ng’iro, Southern Ewaso Ng’iro from Kalema (Kenya) to its mouth into Lake Natron (Tanzania) Mau Forest (green) with Ewaso Ng’iro running south to Lake Natron at the foot of the map.

26. What is the climate in Lake Natron?

Weather and Climate
Lake Natron is in an arid region which means the temperature around here can get quite high. At day time the temperature is around 30° C and can even go above 40°C / 104°F past 2 P.M. The lake’s temperature can itself go as high as 60°C / 140°F because of the chemical mixtures in it!

27. What would happen if you swam in Lake Natron?

The extreme saltiness of the soda lake wouldn’t turn you to stone like a glance from Medusa, but it would sting like hell if you had any cuts or breaks in the skin. Imagine what happens when you step into the salty ocean with a graze, it’d be like that but a lot worse.

28. What are the uses of natron?
Natron can be used to dry and preserve fish and meat. It was also an ancient household insecticide, and was used for making leather and as a bleach for clothing. The mineral was used in Egyptian mummification because it absorbs water and is a drying agent.

29. What is the bath of natron?
To clean themselves while bathing, the Egyptians used natron – soda ash that when blended with oil made soap. Natron was also used when mummifying the dead. The rich had bathing facilities in their places of residence while everyone else bathed in the Nile.

30. How does natron preserve bodies?
The embalmers next removed all moisture from the body. This they did by covering the body with natron, a type of salt that has great drying
properties, and by placing additional natron packets inside the body.