Gorgeous Lake Natron, Tanzania

Lake Natron is a salt lake located in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border, in the eastern branch of the East African Rift. The lake is fed by the Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River and also by mineral-rich hot springs. It is quite shallow, less than three meters (10 feet) deep, and varies in width depending on its water level, which changes due to high levels of evaporation, leaving concentrations of salt and other minerals, notably sodium carbonate (natron). The surrounding country is dry and receives irregular seasonal rainfall. The lake falls within the Lake Natron Basin Wetlands of International Importance Ramsar Site. Temperatures in the lake can reach 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit), and depending on rainfall, the alkalinity can reach a pH of 9 to 10.5 (almost as alkaline as ammonia).

NatronSouthSide

Flamingo’s in Lake Natron

Lengai from Natron

Lengai from Natron

Lake Natron

Lake Natron By Marc Veraart (Flickr)

Lake Natron, Kenya side, from the air, IMG_0059 %J

Lake Natron from Kenya side

Lake Natron

Lake Natron

Lake Natron, Kenya side IMG_0029 %J

Unique Water color of the Lake Natron

Lake Natron During Drought

Lake Natron By Marc Veraart

Lake Natron

Lake Natron By Marc Veraart

View of Lengai from Lake Natron
View of Lengai, By Marc Veraart

The area around the salt lake is not inhabited but there is some herding and some seasonal cultivation. Threats to the salinity balance from increased siltation influxes will come from more projected logging in Natron watersheds and a planned hydroelectric power plant on the Ewaso Ng’iro across the border in Kenya. Although development plans include construction of a dike at the north end of the lake to contain the fresh water, the threat of dilution to this breeding ground may still be serious. There is no formal protection.

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