Three hours drive from Lake Manyara, on the hot, dry and dusty plains by the Great Rift Valley, lies Lake Natron. It is a great stopover on your route to Serengeti and Ngorongoro, but not many tourists set their foot on its salty shores, not many cameras capture the pink beauty of its waters, not many birdwatchers come to see millions of flamingoes in their breeding environment. Only real intrepid travelers make it all the way to the remote Lake Natron and get a glimpse of this surreal landscape: green fields gradually turning into red and yellow dusty plains, dotted by single-standing Maasai houses.
The salt crust is colored red and pink because of the algae inhabiting the waters, and the greenery is very scarce here. High temperatures and concentrations of salt make Lake Natron practically uninhabitable, although it is an important breeding ground for extremely rare flamingoes, and several species of fish survive in the less salty shallow waters.
In a distance, the peak of Ol Doinyo Lengai is towering over the plains. In translation from Maasai language, the name means ‘Mountain of God’. It is an active volcano producing natrocarbonatite lava, and you are constantly reminded of the volcano’s activity by thin strings of smoke rising from the top. This adventure is not for the faint-hearted, but you can take a stroll up the mountain. Calling it a stroll is a bad choice of words, since the climb is very tough and must start around midnight in order to reach the top before the sunrise and hike back down before the midday heat rises. This adventure holds its own risks and thrill of exploration.
When you want to escape into the shade of trees and cool water of plunge pools, head to the hills for a hike in the wilderness in search of Engero Sero Waterfalls.