What had started off as a short message from a friend, quickly turned into my newest obsession: Lake Natron in Tanzania. I just could not believe it. It had to be fake. It had to be photoshopped. A lake so bloody red, so desolate, so hostile and yet so little known. I quickly googled for possibilities to go there during my planned stay in Tanzania, but I just couldn’t figure out how to get to Lake Natron and see the red colors. I wrote to several dubious camps, a handful of professional photographers and many pilots to ask for more information or advice, but most leads were as dire as Lake Natron itself. Could I just drive there? Or should I rather take a dirt bike? Maybe walk? And could I really see the red colors from the shore? So much uncertainty and nothing seemed to work in my favor. Until the Kilimanjaro Aero Club revealed itself as the cure to my obsession with Lake Natron.
This is also why I would like to dedicate this article to the Kilimanjaro Aero Club, Jason D. and all the obsessed travelers out there and share my complete knowledge of how to travel to Lake Natron and explore its amazing red colors.
Lake Natron is a very special lake. It starts off fairly “lake-like” with blue water, then slowly changes into an orange/brownish sludge and ends up as the blood-red surface as seen on the photos. So why is Lake Natron red? As the level of salt in Lake Natron is very high, salt-loving microorganisms begin to thrive in the sodic alkaline water – and finally produce these red pigments. Interestingly enough, it is precisely these photosynthetic red pigments of the microorganisms that give the thousands of flamingos at Lake Natron their pink color.
I wanted to go to Lake Natron so badly to see these unique red patterns, not flamingos. But it would not be an easy task. Especially after a photographer had told me that seeing the red colors of Lake Natron was only truly possible from the air. So finally, I had worked out two possibilities:
For questions or feedback regarding Lake Natron, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.