Lake Natron National Park 156

FlamingosFlamingos

This spectacular area sits just north east of the Ngorongoro Crater and forms part of Africa's immense Great Rift Valley. Nestled between rolling volcanic hills and deep craters, Lake Natron sits at the lowest point of the rift valley - 600m above sea level - and is probably the world's most caustic body of water.

This area is hot and often very dry and dusty so certainly for the more intrepid traveller. But for those who do choose to visit Natron, they are rewarded with an area that is far off the beaten track and sees relatively little tourism. The scenery is among the most dramatic in Tanzania and the views are alone worthy of a visit.

The drive from Mto wa Mbu (near Lake Manyara) to Lake Natron takes around three hours. With Rift Valley rising up on the left side, the landscape increasingly becomes dramatic. Looking around, you’ll see varied and spectacular all-round views of green vegetation and dusty landscape. Once you reach a certain elevation, you’ll see Maasai homestead dotting the landscape.

Following this track, you’ll see handful of great mounds to the north. These are remains of extinct volcanoes. These will get dwarfed with the rising Kermasi Crater and then the impressive Ol’doinyo Lengai which in local Maasai language translates to “Mountain of God”. You’ll get to drive around the imposing volcano -- keeping your eyes on its smoking crown -- to reach Lake Natron.

From Lake Natron, it’s about a five-hour drive to the safari camps on the Serengeti Loliondo village area.

Wildlife of Lake Natron
The surrounding of Lake Natron is home to some wildlife species and you might see giraffes and zebras. But wildlife is not the main reason to visit this area, instead the remoteness, scenery, and interesting safari routes into the back of Loliondo is what makes this area special.

That being said, the lake is home to a fascinating ecosystem surrounded by a harsh environment. The lake is full of Cyanobacteria which is a salt loving microorganism creating its own food and energy through photosynthesis. The population of the bacteria increases with the increase in salinity. The lake is also home to a vast population of Spirulina which is a blue-green algae with red pigments on it. This is the primary food for the large population of Lesser Flamingos that inhabit the lake.

The lake however has an extremely hostile environment, primarily because of high alkalinity levels, and most freshwater organisms are not able to survive here. Few predator species however do survive in here. Moreover, it’s a breeding ground for the flamingos who return here annually to nest to nest.

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