Lake Natron is a breathtaking alkaline lake known for its strikingly red waters, formed by high levels of volcanic minerals. But Lake Natron is not just a pretty sight. It is also a hotspot for wildlife enthusiasts, home to many bird species, including thousands of flamingos. In addition, the surrounding landscapes offer a playground for adventure seekers, with opportunities for hiking, volcano climbing, and wildlife safaris. To make the most of your experience, you need a good Lake Natron camp.
So, we have handpicked the top camps that offer comfort, authenticity, and a close connection to nature. We also listed the best things to do during your stay.
Why choose Lake Natron for your adventure?
Lake Natron is a hidden gem that offers a unique and authentic experience for those seeking adventure and a deep connection with nature. Unlike other popular destinations, Lake Natron remains relatively untouched and undiscovered, allowing visitors to truly immerse themselves in the wild beauty of Tanzania. Whether you’re a nature lover, a wildlife enthusiast, or an adventure seeker, Lake Natron has something to offer for everyone.
6 amazing Lake Natron facts
Here are some facts you’ll want to share with others for the wow factor!
- Phantom rain: Lake Natron gets just 400 millimeters of rainfall annually, and a big chunk of it is what we call ‘phantom rain’ – it’s like rain that disappears before even touching the ground. This happens because the lake hangs out in a desert, where water is super scarce.
- A volcano-fed lake: This lake doesn’t have any rivers flowing out of it, and it mainly gets its water from bubbling springs and occasional streams. Since the water that flows in seeps through the volcanic stuff from the nearby Mt. Ol Doinyo Lengai, the lake’s water becomes super duper alkaline.
- The lake’s water is poisonous: In Lake Natron, you can find significant stores of salt, soda, and magnesite. This creates a perfect home for some sneaky bacteria that can harm the insides of creatures who take a sip.
- Lake Natron Flamingos thrive where others perish: Amazingly, flamingos don’t get bothered by the lake’s tricky bacteria, unlike other birds. In fact, Lake Natron is the biggest spot on Earth where lesser flamingos come to start their families!
- The water sometimes turns red: Sometimes, the water in Lake Natron puts on a reddish or orange-red show, all thanks to the algae that absolutely loves its extra salty surroundings. It’s so striking that you can spot this crimson touch all the way from space!
- The lake is really hot: When summer comes around, the lake’s temperature can shoot up to a scorching 60°C (that’s a sizzling 140°F)! And over on its eastern side, there are these toasty hot springs bubbling away.
The best time to visit Lake Natron
To make the most of your Lake Natron adventure, it is important to plan your visit during the right time of the year. The dry season runs from July to October and is considered the best time to visit Lake Natron. During this period, the weather is pleasant, and the wildlife is more active, making it ideal for wildlife safaris and bird watching. The temperatures are also more comfortable, with cooler mornings and evenings, allowing for more enjoyable outdoor activities.
If you’re interested in witnessing the incredible spectacle of the flamingos, the best time to visit Lake Natron is during the breeding season, typically between August and October. During this time, the lake is teeming with flamingos, and you can witness their courtship displays and nesting behaviors up close. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Best Activities in Lake Natron
Lake Natron offers many activities and attractions to entertain even the most adventurous traveler.
If you’re up for some adrenaline-pumping adventure, hiking Ol Doinyo Lengai, an active volcano, is an experience like no other. The challenging trek to the summit rewards you with awe-inspiring views of the surrounding landscape, including the vast expanse of Lake Natron. The climb is best done at night, allowing you to witness the sunrise from the top of the volcano, creating a truly magical moment.
A safari in the nearby Serengeti National Park is a must-do activity for wildlife enthusiasts. The park is home to the famous wildebeest migration, where millions of wildebeests and other animals traverse the plains in search of greener pastures. Witnessing this incredible natural phenomenon is an experience that will leave you in awe of the wonders of nature.
Embarking on a thrilling adventure for avid hikers is the opportunity to conquer the majestic Mt. Ol Doinyo Lengai.
Due to daytime scorching temperatures, most adventurers opt for a night-time ascent. The journey begins at 10 pm, with a Maasai guide as your trusted leader, guiding you up the mountain’s challenging path.
The climb to the peak typically spans around six hours, with a descent of a similar duration. By mid-morning, you should find yourself back at the mountain’s base, having achieved your goal. After this remarkable accomplishment, you’ll be whisked back to your camp to relish a hearty breakfast and luxuriate in a well-deserved dip in the refreshing pool!
The lower part of the trail primarily consists of loose soil, while as you ascend, you’ll encounter challenges like grass tufts, compacted ash, solidified lava, and loose gravel. It’s important to note that the upper half of the climb is exceptionally steep, especially when you’re making your way in the darkness, guided only by the glow of your headlamp. This isn’t a trek for the faint of heart! Using trekking poles can be quite handy for the descent.
Standing atop the one-meter-wide crater rim, peering into the awe-inspiring, sulfur-spewing crater is an exhilarating and entrancing experience. The vast vistas from Ol Doinyo Lengai, as the sunrise bathes the landscape in its warm light, are truly breathtaking.
Ngare Sero Waterfall hike
A truly fulfilling day awaits in the Lake Natron region with a hike to Ngare Sero Waterfall and back. This adventure leads you through Ngare Sero Gorge, where you’ll encounter moments of scrambling, climbing, and wading through water. Thankfully, the water never rises above your hips.
As you draw nearer to the waterfall, the gorge becomes steeper and narrower, offering welcome shade early and late in the day. Upon reaching the waterfall, a refreshing swim in its pool awaits – a well-deserved treat after trekking in the scorching region. It’s also the perfect time to savor your picnic lunch while marveling at this hidden oasis.
To embark on this hike, it’s essential to enlist the services of a Maasai guide; this journey can’t be undertaken independently. The trailhead is just a 30-minute drive from Lake Natron.
The trail itself spans 5.5 kilometers round trip, with an ascent of a little over 300 meters. Wearing proper shoes is crucial due to the slippery rocks. You’ll want to opt for water shoes or be prepared to get your trainers wet.
The Maasai of Lake Natron
The Maasai, residing in the southern regions of Kenya and northern areas of Tanzania, constitute a distinctive ethnic group. Originating from South Sudan, they settled in their current territory around the 1700s.
In the twenty-first century, the Maasai have steadfastly resisted assimilation into modern society, taking immense pride in preserving their cultural heritage and traditional way of life. This traditional lifestyle revolves around herding and hunting, distinguishing them by their iconic red and blue robes, while the women are known for their vibrant and intricate beaded jewelry. Within the challenging and unforgiving environs around Lake Natron, you’ll find some remote Maasai communities. Many Maasai individuals rely on tourism-related jobs as a primary source of income, contributing to their vibrant culture’s sustainability.
Supporting the local economy
Exploring Lake Natron and Mt. Ol Doinyo Lengai involves enlisting the expertise of local Maasai guides. These knowledgeable guides can lead you on various adventures, such as a guided safari walk around the lake, a trek to Ngare Sero Waterfall, or an overnight summit hike up Mt. Ol Doinyo Lengai.
If you’re touring the region with a company like Follow Alice, our Tanzania safari tour guide, Kazi, ensures you reach the activity’s starting point. From there, you’re gracefully handed over into the capable hands of your Maasai guide for an unforgettable experience.
Lake Natron Camp: Top 3 Choices
To make the most of your Lake Natron experience, we have handpicked the top camps that offer comfort, authenticity, and a close connection to nature. From luxury tented camps to eco-friendly lodges, each one provides a unique experience and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of this hidden gem.
Lake Natron Camp 1: Camp Amani
Located on the shores of Lake Natron, Camp Amani is a luxury tented camp that offers a truly immersive experience in the heart of nature. The camp features spacious tents with comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and stunning views of the lake and surrounding landscapes. The friendly and knowledgeable staff are always on hand to ensure your stay is memorable and enjoyable. Indulge in delicious meals prepared with locally sourced ingredients, relax by the campfire under the starry sky, and let the sounds of nature lull you to sleep.
Lake Natron Camp 2: Lake Natron Camp Moivaro
For those seeking a more rustic and authentic experience, Lake Natron Tented Camp is the perfect choice. This eco-friendly camp is designed to blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings, offering a truly immersive experience. The tents are simple yet comfortable, with en suite bathrooms and solar-powered lighting. The camp also features a communal dining area where guests can enjoy delicious meals prepared with fresh ingredients. Explore the camp’s nature trails, take a dip in the natural swimming pool, or simply relax in the shade of the acacia trees and soak in the tranquility of the surroundings.
Final Thoughts on the Best Lake Natron Camp
Lake Natron is a hidden gem that offers a unique and unforgettable adventure for those willing to venture off the beaten path. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and various activities to suit all interests, Lake Natron is a destination that should not be missed. Whether you choose a luxury-tented Lake Natron camp, an eco-friendly lodge, or a budget-friendly campsite, each option will allow you to connect with nature and create memories that will last a lifetime.
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