Discovering the hidden gems of Lake Natron region

by | May 1, 2023 | Africa | 0 comments

Lake Natron is a salt or alkaline lake located in northern Tanzania, near the border with Kenya. It is famous for its flamingo population, its red color, and its proximity to the active volcano Mt Ol Doinyo Lengai. But Lake Natron has much more to offer than these well-known attractions. In this blog post, we will explore some of the hidden gems of Lake Natron region that will make your visit unforgettable.

Ngare Sero Waterfall Hike

One of the most rewarding activities in Lake Natron region is hiking to the Ngare Sero waterfall, a stunning oasis in the middle of a dry and dusty landscape. The hike starts from a small Maasai village, where you will meet your local guide and pay a small fee for entering their land. The trail follows the Saitoti River, which flows from the slopes of Mt Ol Doinyo Lengai. You will cross the river several times, sometimes walking on the rocks and sometimes on the riverbed. The hike is not very difficult, but you will need good shoes that can get wet and a sense of adventure.

The hike takes about 25 to 45 minutes each way, depending on your pace and how often you stop to admire the scenery. Along the way, you will see different types of plants, such as desert roses, palm trees, and acacias. You will also enjoy the views of the towering walls of the Ngare Sero gorge, which is 600 meters deep and carved by volcanic activity.

The highlight of the hike is reaching the Ngare Sero waterfall, a beautiful cascade that drops into a pool surrounded by lush vegetation. The waterfall is not part of the Saitoti River, but comes from a side stream that originates from a spring. The water is cool and refreshing, and you can swim in the pool or stand under the waterfall for a natural massage. The waterfall is surprisingly powerful, so be careful not to get too close to the edge. You can also walk upstream from the waterfall and see another smaller but wider cascade that blocks further progress.

The Ngare Sero waterfall is a hidden gem that not many tourists visit, so you may have it all to yourself. It is a perfect place to relax, enjoy nature, and take some amazing photos. You can spend as much time as you want at the waterfall before heading back to the village.

Hot Springs

Another hidden gem of Lake Natron region is the hot springs that are scattered around the lake shore. These are natural pools of water that are heated by geothermal activity and have different temperatures and mineral compositions. Some of them are very hot and can scald your skin, while others are warm and soothing. You can find them by following dirt roads or asking locals for directions.

One of the most popular hot springs is located near Lake Natron Tented Camp², a lodge that offers comfortable accommodation and stunning views of the lake and Mt Ol Doinyo Lengai. The hot spring is about 10 minute’s walk from the camp and has a wooden deck and a changing room. The water is clear and blue and has a temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius. It is said to have healing properties for skin conditions and joint pains. You can soak in the hot spring and enjoy the contrast between the hot water and the cool breeze.

Another hot spring that is worth visiting is located near Maasai Giraffe Eco Lodge³, another lodge that offers rooms and camping facilities in a green oasis near Lake Natron. The hot spring is about 15 minutes walk from the lodge and has a natural rock pool that can fit about 10 people. The water is slightly cloudy and has a temperature of about 37 degrees Celsius. It is also said to have medicinal benefits for various ailments. You can relax in the hot spring and watch the birds and monkeys that frequent the area.

Rock Paintings

If you are interested in history and culture, you can also visit some of the rock paintings that are found in Lake Natron region. These are ancient drawings made by hunter-gatherers who lived in this area thousands of years ago. They depict animals, humans, geometric shapes, and symbols that reflect their beliefs and way of life.

One of the best places to see rock paintings is near Engaresero village⁴, which is about 20 kilometers from Lake Natron Tented Camp². You will need a local guide to take you there, as they are not well signposted or marked.

The rock paintings are located on a rock face that has several paintings of animals and humans. Some of the paintings are estimated to be over 10,000 years old and show the lifestyle and culture of the ancient inhabitants of this area. You will need to climb a ladder to reach the paintings, but the effort is worth it. You will be amazed by the skill and creativity of these prehistoric artists, who used natural pigments and brushes to create their masterpieces.

Camel Safari

If you want to experience Lake Natron region from a different perspective, you can also try a camel safari. Camels are not native to Tanzania, but they were introduced by traders and nomads from northern Africa and Arabia. They are well adapted to the arid and hot climate of Lake Natron region and can carry heavy loads for long distances.

You can book a camel safari with one of the local operators, such as Lake Natron Tented Camp² or Maasai Giraffe Eco Lodge³. They will provide you with a trained camel, a saddle, a guide, and a picnic lunch. You can choose how long you want to ride, from a few hours to a full day. You will ride along the lake shore, enjoying the views of the flamingos, the volcano, and the salt flats. You will also pass by some Maasai villages and interact with the friendly people. You will learn about their culture, traditions, and challenges. You will also see some wildlife, such as zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and ostriches.

A camel safari is a fun and adventurous way to explore Lake Natron region. You will feel like a desert explorer and appreciate the beauty and diversity of this area.


Lake Natron region is also a paradise for birdwatchers, as it hosts over 300 species of birds. The most famous ones are the lesser flamingoes, which number in the millions and create a spectacular pink spectacle on the lake surface. They feed on the algae that grow in the alkaline water and breed on the islands and mudflats. They are endangered due to habitat loss and human disturbance, so they need protection and conservation.

But flamingoes are not the only birds that you can see in Lake Natron region. You can also spot other waterbirds, such as pelicans, storks, herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills, ducks, geese, and waders. You can also see birds of prey, such as eagles, vultures, falcons, kites, harriers, and owls. And you can also see songbirds, such as weavers, sunbirds, starlings, shrikes, larks, sparrows, finches, and buntings.

You can go birdwatching on foot or by car along the lake shore or near the lodges. You can also join a guided birdwatching tour with an expert who will help you identify the birds and tell you more about their behavior and ecology. You will need binoculars, a camera, a bird guidebook or app, and a lot of patience and enthusiasm.

Birdwatching is a rewarding and relaxing activity that will allow you to appreciate the richness and diversity of Lake Natron region’s avifauna.

(1) Lake Natron – Monduli, Tanzania – Atlas Obscura.
(2) Lake Natron – Wikipedia.
(3) This Alkaline African Lake Turns Animals into Stone.
(4) Lake Natron Tented Camp.
(5) Maasai Giraffe Eco Lodge.
(6) Ngare Sero waterfall hike – a must when visiting Lake Natron.

Love it? Share it!