Welcome to beautiful, rugged Lake Natron in Tanzania. If you are looking for a real adventure away from the regular touristic paths, then Lake Natron and Ol Doinyo Lengai are made for you!
This article will take you through everything to discover while on safari in Tanzania. Join us as we visit Lake Natron, hike to Ol Doinyo Lengai, and stand beneath the Ngare Sero waterfalls. We’ll even introduce you to some fantastic overnight camp options. A little nervous about being on a walking safari? Don’t worry; you’ve got the best tour operator in Tanzania by your side!
Tanzania Horizon Safaris – Visit Lake Natron as a daytrip from Ngorongoro Crater or on a Private Safari starting from Arusha inside the Northern Safari Circuit.
You can find beautiful Lake Natron at the border of Tanzania and Kenya at the foot of Ol Doinyo Lengai. This holy mountain of the Maasai looks over the lake’s intense red shores. The lake’s name comes from its intensely alkaline water, which has a pH of up to 10.5. Haloarchaea, microorganisms that flourish in salty wetlands, create the deep vermillion shade the lake is so well known for. The mineral deposits left behind by the water are known as natron or sodium carbonate. The corrosive water can burn the skin and eyes of animals that haven’t adapted to its high pH. You won’t want to take a dip to cool off here!
While deposits of sodium carbonate do lead to animal mummification, the lake supports a thriving, beautiful ecosystem of salt marshes and freshwater wetlands.
Wait, did we say mummification? When the circle of life takes its toll, and an animal dies and somehow ends up in the water, the minerals in the lake will calcify their bodies and seemingly turn them to stone. Medusa has not been at work here, but it can be an eerie sight. Carbonate minerals are the same materials that ancient Egyptians used in their ceremonial mummification. It’s fascinating to see this phenomenon in the wild.
Some media likes to make it sound like Lake Natron is one stop on the way to the underworld. That is far from the truth! Look out over the lake, and you will see flocks of flamingos calling Lake Natron home. The vivid flamingos create a masterful array of colors against the backdrop of Lake Natron’s red shores. Take a look into the water, and you will see tilapia fish delighting in the water. Once a species has adapted to the sodium carbonate, it can thrive.
A visit to Lake Natron is a once-in-a-lifetime sight you will cherish for years.
Ol Doinyo Lengai means mountain of God in Maasai language. This is an active volcano south of Lake Natron. It is the only active volcano known to emit natrocarbonatite, a volcanic rock rich in potassium, sodium, and calcium carbonate that gives Lake Natron its red color. Because the lava is also low in silica, it is some of the fastest-flowing lava worldwide. The lava only glows at night; it flows in stark oil-spill-like black during the day.
To the nomadic Maasai, the indigenous people that call Kenya and northern Tanzania home, Ol Doinyo Lengai is the most respected mountain in the area. The Maasai believe that their God Eng’ai resides in the volcano, and eruptions and droughts are a symptom of his displeasure. Long pilgrimages up Ol Doinyo Lengai by the Maasai serve to bring about rain and other blessings.
While tourists can climb the mountain, it is no easy feat. During a hike to Ol Doinyo Lengai, you will see the canyons created by previous volcanic eruptions. The mountain is extremely steep and takes experience and determination to climb. A hike to the summit and down takes up to 12 hours for an adept hiker and is usually undertaken from midnight onwards.
As an equally beautiful but less physically and mentally taxing alternative, we’d love to take you to the Ngare Sero Waterfalls.
Just at the foot of imposing Ol Doinyo Lengai, hidden in the Ngare Sero Gorge, you’ll find the spectacular Ngare Sero Waterfalls. With temperatures reaching 50 degrees celsius at midday, a refreshing dip under the waterfall may be just what you need. As you float serenely on your back, looking into the palm trees, the strenuous hike to the Ngare Sero Waterfalls get here will be well worth it.
Microadventures like this one are why a walking safari in Tanzania is one of the best ways to discover the region and all its hidden gems.
Whether you’re choosing a day trip safari or a multi-day adventure, you will want to stay in one of the most comfortable camps in the area. Some of your Lake Natron campsite options are:
Lake Natron Camp: ten spacious guest tents await you in this ecological camp, located in a visually dramatic location. Cuddle into your Egyptian cotton sheets after a long day exploring northern Tanzania.
Africa Safari Lake Natron: get ready to glamp in one of the air-conditioned accommodations with everything to offer, from a swimming pool to sunbeds and an elevated restaurant with a view of the flamingos.
Lake Natron River Camp: intimate and straightforward are the best ways to describe this relaxed camp located south of Natron village. Here you’ll find six permanent safari tents with private shower and toilet facilities and a patio that offers garden views.
Lengai Safari Lodge: a unique ecological lodge that offers you the shade of trees and fresh air. Basic safari tents offer showering facilities, comfortable beds, and a private veranda. Want to grab a bite to eat? A fully stocked bar and restaurant will keep your bellies full for another day of adventure.
About: Tanzania Horizon Safaris
We hope to have wet your appetite for a glorious walking safari to discover Tanzania. Here at Tanzania Horizon Safaris, we pride ourselves on our team of enthusiastic nature and adventure lovers who cannot wait to show you the beauty of the Serengeti.
What are you waiting for? Lake Natron awaits you!