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Tanzania Safari: Lake Natron

On this page: Overview | Location | Things To Do | Photos

Overview

Lake Natron is the lowest point of the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania (600m / 2000 ft). It is also home to the only active volcano in Tanzania: Ol Doinyo Lengai (Mountain of God).

The lake is extremely high in sodium carbonate, algae, and zooplankton supporting vast numbers of flamingos and other water birds, especially during and after the rainy season.

This area is quite desolate and hot. Local, fresh springs form suprising oases in this landscape.

On the drive between Lake Natron and the Arusha/Lake Manyara road, you can see many Maasai villages, termite mounds, gazelle, giraffe, zebra, baboons, bee boxes, and birds such as vultures, ostrich, starlings, Cory Bustards, and kites. On the drive between Lake Natron and the Serengeti, the vast number of Maasai villages and cattle is amazing.

The best months to visit are June-July and December-January.

Location

Lake Natron is a 3+ hour drive from the Lake Manyara area, and 4-5 hours from the northeastern entrance to the Serengeti (Klein's Gate). Both roads are fairly bumpy and dusty. You would visit Lake Natron either on the way the Serengeti or on the way back.

Things to Do

Walk to Waterfalls

This is a 20 minute hike one-way up a river gorge. You will need non-leather sandals (soda harms leather). It is slippery and requires scrambling and walking through the river (sometimes waist deep). It is an excellent swim in the river and under the waterfalls for a nice cool-down from the hot sun. There may be baboons or other wildlife in the gorge.

See Flamingos and other water birds

Lake Natron is great for bird wathcing ! You will walk from your camp or from the road out on the mud flats to the edge of the water. In the dry season, this may be a half-mile walk. Flamingos breed here August-October, but there are flamingos all year.

Game Drive

Full day game drive around the south and west side of Lake Natron. In this area, you can drive off road. There may be animals right around the camp, but it is still safe to walk around because there are no dangerous animals in this area.

Masaai Village

There are many authenitic Masaai villages in the area to visit. You can walk with them from boma to boma and help them milk the cows.

Footprints

Visit the pre-historic human footprints in the mud flats.

Photos

Click on any photo to see larger images.

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