Lake Natron is one of the famous lakes with extremely mysterious and magical beauty by its bright red color. For thousands of years, any animal that stumbles into the ‘lake of death’ Natron, their carcass is petrified in a short time. If you accidentally touch the water in the lake, your eyes or skin will be damaged. Except for the fish that have evolved to survive in the deadly currents, no other animal is capable of surviving in the lake.

The lake is famous for the locals’ rumors. They believe that Lake Natron suffers from an ancient curse that causes any creature to be petrified. Are you interested in this lake? Or do you feel curious about it? Let’s learn more about Lake Natron with The Broad Life through this blog post.

The Rumored Curse of Lake Natron

When it comes to African tourism, Tanzania is an outstanding destination. As a country located in East Africa, Tanzania possesses 3 majestic high volcanoes, fertile highlands, forests, and extremely rich wildlife. Not only has a unique and beautiful natural landscape, but Tanzania is also famous for Lake Natron, one of the deadliest places in the world which scares all animals.

red lake natron in aerial view
The beauty in the red color of the deadly lake from aerial view. Image source: Sentinal Hub on Flickr.

Natron is no different from a lake of death on earth when the creatures that come here are petrified. The reason for this rare phenomenon is that the alkaline concentration in the lake is so high. Therefore, it causes the unfortunate animals to fall into the lake to decompose and calcify. When the lake’s water level drops, the bodies of unfortunate animals wash ashore, covered with a thick layer of salt. Especially, Lake Natron has a large and bright mirror surface. So, it’s not difficult to imagine why these unfortunate animals slipped and fell into the lake.

Explaining About the Curse of Lake Natron

The original phenomenon of Lake Natron containing excessive alkalinity is from the one million-year-old volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai in the south of the deadly lake. This majestic volcano’s lava flows down carrying a special amount of mineral salts, which differ from the ordinary seawater’s salt. Since then, this amount of “volcano salts” remains and accumulates in the lake over years, making the lake extremely alkaline. According to research, pH levels reach from 9-10.5. The temperature of the lake water when shallow can reach 60oC.

The carcasses of the animals that fell into the lake are so well preserved that their vivid forms are still preserved, encased in thick layers of salt cement. All living things, once submerged in the lake, will decompose in a very short time. Hence, their bodies still retain the same shape as when they were alive. These “limestone statues” are perfectly preserved in detail. Indeed, you can see every single hair and even the tongue intact when unearthing an animal falling into Lake Natron after months.

  • calcified dove
  • calcified fish eagle
  • calcified songbird
  • calcified swallow
  • calcified bat
  • calcified flamingo

Because of these interesting features, more and more photographers are visiting Lake Natron with the aim of reconstructing the mummies of the ill-fated animals and capturing vivid photos as if they were alive.

Surprisingly, The Lake of Death Natron Still Has Animals Living

Although dubbed the lake of death that turns all living things to stone when falling into Lake Natron, there are still very few species of creatures that are lucky to survive in this harsh environment. Currently, there are three species of organisms living in the deadly lake: several types of algae, endemic bacteria, and flamingos. Particularly, not only does it live well on the red-tinted lake, but this is also an ideal place for flamingos to nest during the breeding season. For that reason, each year during the breeding season, Lake Natron is home to more than 2.5 million flamingos.

flamingos at lake natron
The flamingos that can live on the deadly Lake Natron. Image credit to Christoph Strässler.

Despite living in a harsh environment, this kind of flamingo is also endangered because they have no other ideal environment to breed except in this lake of death. To elaborate, the alkaline environment of the lake is an excellent trap for the flamingos to fend off predators trying to reach their nests. Hence, the flamingo can find peace here at the dead lake to breed.

When the water level is deep enough, the flamingos will perch on the salt outcrops and make their nests in the mud of the volcano. However, there are also a few unlucky flamingos that fall into the lake and become a mummy in salt cement like other animals.

Traveling to the Deadly Lake

Lake Natron is also famous for its deadly red color besides the phenomenon of intact animal mummies. This red color is as bright as blood produced by special species of cyanobacteria found only here. Therefore, Lake Natron is also a creative paradise, inspiring painters, photographers, and those working in the field of art.

Anyway, this lake of death is also a rather inhospitable place for humans. The temperature and the salt concentration here is quite high. Therefore, the air is drier and hotter, causing people to quickly lose water and fall into a state of fatigue. In addition, the water can also damage the eyes of any people. Therefore, travelers who want to visit Lake Natron need to carefully prepare protective gear and should follow the guidance of professionals.

Being a dangerous place for both living things and humans, Lake Natron is still a unique place in the world that attracts many explorers, especially the people of art and photography. If you also want to once see the lake of death with your own eyes, then come to Tanzania to be discovered.


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14 COMMENTS

  1. This sounds like a really interesting place to visit. I think the dichotomy of the deadly waters and yet the life that lives within it is so incredible.

    • Yeah, definitely the area is interesting to visit. But just make sure you don’t touch the lake’s water for safety.

  2. Wow this sounds like a fascinating place. I bet with the red colour and intact animal mummies it is quite a sight to behold.

  3. I’d heard about the lake before but didn’t know about the waters being alkaline due to a volcano. It must be quite amazing to go see it. Nature is so amazing.

  4. Wow! I have never heard of this lake before! So interesting and I loved the pics. Even though they were a little creepy….LOL

  5. So interesting! I do remember seeing some of these photos of the dead animals. It is fascinating to learn some more.

  6. Oooh very interesting to know this. I love learning about histories of different places.

  7. Wow….it’s been ages since I last heard of Lake Natron! I was told of it’s never-ending encounters with the red beautiful flamingoes.

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