Best Tanzania Safari Destinations | Tanzania’s top safari parks and game reserves
A soda lake at the base of the active Ol Donyo Lengai volcano, the area around Lake Natron is often described as having a desolate and almost lunar beauty. Lake Natron is found in the northern part of Tanzania. The nearest towns to Lake Natron are Arusha in Tanzania and Magadi in Kenya. It is the most important breeding site for Lesser Flamingos in the world.
East Africa has 1.5-2.5 million Lesser Flamingos, representing three-quarters of the world population and most of them are hatched at Lake Natron. Food is plentiful, nesting sites abound – and above all, the lake is isolated and undisturbed. The lake and its ecosystem provides a source of livelihoods to the local communities.
High levels of evaporation have left behind natron (sodium carbonate decahydrate) and trona (sodium sesquicarbonate dihydrate). The alkalinity of the lake can reach a pH of greater than 12. The surrounding bedrock is composed of alkaline, sodium-dominated trachyte lavas that were laid down during the Pleistocene period. The lavas have significant amounts of carbonate but very low calcium and magnesium levels. This has allowed the lake to concentrate into a caustic alkaline brine
Walking around the lake and to the streams and waterfalls along the nearby escarpment makes for a fantastic adventure off the beaten track.
There are a number of campgrounds near the lake, which is also the base for climbing Ol Doinyo Lengai.
“Oldoinyo Lengai” means “The Mountain of God” in the Maasai language. The summit of this strato-volcano is 2962 meters above sea level and affords direct views into the caldera of Tanzania’s only officially-certified active volcano, and the world’s only carbonatite volcano; records of eruptions have been maintained since 1883, the largest of which deposited ash 100 kilometers away in Loliondo on the Kenyan border to the northwest.
It is located in northern Tanzania lying just south of Lake Natron in the Rift Valley, in the heart of Maasai country, and is locally regarded as a sacred mountain. Looking north from its summit crater, the hot barren salt flats of Lake Natron stretch into the distance.
To the south stretch the crater Highlands and the Ngorongoro Game Reserve. The eastern horizons are dominated by Kilimanjaro and to the west, the forested escarpments and hills comprise the western slopes of the Rift Valley. Every seven years Lengai erupts and plumes of smoke billow out of the crater.
It is possible to walk across the crater floor. The ascent of Oldoinyo Lengai is demanding on account of the daytime heat, lack of water, steep and unsuitable slopes of ash and crumbly rocks, and considerable height gain. Normally you can start ascending to summit early in the morning and reach to summit at sunrise. Short and a warm jacket are suitable for the ascent, also long trousers are good as the summit before dawn can be cold. The access route from the North West allows an early descent to be made from the summit in the morning shadow.
Standing at 2,878 meters above the Soda Ash Lake Natron, the Mountain of GOD is famous to the Maasai community that inhabits the area, Mountain Ol’doinyo Lengai is situated in the Ngorongoro highlands and the African Rift valley about 120 kilometers Northwest of Arusha, Tanzania.
Since the past ancestors, the Holly Lengai has been used by Maasai for their prayer to their GOD known as NGAI. Ol’doinyo Lengai is the only active volcano in the world that erupt natrocarbonatite lava which is cooler than other lavas about (510 degrees C) compare to the temperatures of basaltic lavas (1,100 degrees C) with less silicon.
The Mountain frequently does minor eruptions and forms cone-like structures at its crater base.
While on the summit of Mountain Ol’doinyo Lengai one can sight clearly the Soda Lake Natron which accommodates and consist of good nesting sites for different bird species especially the Flamingos, pelicans, and geese more than 350 different types are recorded to date.
Unlike others two highest Mountains, Lengai takes about six to seven hours to the summit crater. Also the Mountain is an ideal place for a working safari escort by the Maasai guides with weapons tourist can sight wild animals like olive baboons, velvet, monitor lizard, hyenas, lion, leopard, jackal, Grant’s gazelle, impala and zebra.
The nearby are the Maasai BOMAS that gives you a chance to interact with the indigenous learn their cultures, taboos and traditional.