Book Flights to Lake Natron

Lake Natron – Tanzania

Lake Natron, a very alkaline lake almost caustic which hardly supports any life. So why would you visit? The harsh surroundings immediately show the origins of this place, but look beyond this desolation and you will see it. The incredible redness of the lake, best seen from the air, the flamboyance of millions of flamingos in the breeding season, the hot springs ensuring there is still some water left in this vast lake, and the other plains animals (including wildebeest, zebra, oryx, gazelle and even the odd cheetah and lion) that can be found here, especially from December to April.

Oldoinyo Lengai, meaning the mountain of God, forms a backdrop to this prehistoric looking area, or perhaps it is better to describe it as from out-of-this-world? The active volcano is pyramid shaped and looks like it is topped with ice or snow, but this is, in fact, white ash. If you are active you can even hike to the top in a long day-hike, well worth it for the stunning views from the top.

About Lake Natron and Oldonyo Lengai

Lake Natron

Lake Natron is 57 km long, 22 km wide and less than 3 meters deep. The lake is fed by the waters from both the Ewaso Ngiro River and hot alkaline springs.

Lake Natron is a caustic soda wonder. Sitting at the base of Ol Doniyo Lengai it is one of the most un-inhabitable and harsh environments on Earth. The majority of species can’t deal with the lake’s searing temperatures and high alkalinity, but a small type of tilapia (fish) and flamingos call it home. The blue-green algae that thrive in this environment turn the lake an eye-popping red and orange and as it’s the lesser flamingoes favorite food, it is the most important breeding site for them in the world.

The unusual moonscape is an amazing unexplored adventure zone. This superficially desolate land is incredibly ancient and dramatic.

Oldonyo Lengai

Ol Doinyo Lengai is 2,890 meters high and is Tanzania’s only active volcano. It is also the world’s only carbonatite volcano, spewing out ‘cold’ lava. Cold is relative, though, as it flows at 500 degrees Celsius but this is around half the temperature of regular molten rock. The lava flows can solidify pinkish-white, green-white and yellow-white, giving the impression that Ol Doinyo is snow-capped.

From the summit there are fantastic views over the red, hot Lake Natron, stunning Ngorongoro Conservation Area and across to majestic Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru in the distance. The ascent is pretty tough, taking six to seven hours of climbing on steep, unstable slopes. The rewards are massive, sitting on top of a seismic giant, rumbling and grumbling, occasionally belching out a puff of black dust as you absorb the surreal beauty far and wide.

Main Attractions

  • Climbing the still active Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano
  • Visit the world’s most important breeding ground of millions of lesser flamingos at Lake Natron
  • Admire the incredible scenery and extraordinary red colour of Lake Natron with this iconic volcano
  • Hiking to the breeding cliffs of the Rüppell’s griffon vultures





Climbing Oldoinyo Lengai

Tanzania’s only active volcano. The world’s only active volcano that produces lava, containing almost no silicon. The lava is incredibly fluid (like water) and is ‘only 500 degrees C’ (‘normal’ lava is around 1000 degrees C). And you can climb this pretty volcano covered with white ashes, making it look like it is covered with snow or ice. A tough climb, but the views from the top make it all worthwhile.

Visit the flamingo breeding site

This is the only breeding site in East Africa and the most important in the world, with 75% of the world’s lesser flamingo population coming here to breed. The lake is also home to more than 400 other birds species, including many water birds. It’s an incredible sight you will never forget.

Marvel at the red of Lake Natron and the surreal landscape around it

The landscape in the Lake Natron region is out-of-this-world. It is incredibly stark and beautiful, clearly showing its geological origins. This is an off-the-beaten-track destination you won’t regret visiting.

Hiking to the breeding site of the Rüppell’s griffon vultures

From the small town of Ngare Sero on the south side of Lake you can walk to the Ngare Sero gorge where the Rüppell’s griffon vultures nest. From there you can continue walking to the smaller and big waterfalls. Make sure you don’t forget to bring your bathers so you can jump in for a refreshing swim.

How to get there

Fly to Lake Lake Natron and Oldonyo Lengai

The nearest airstrip to Lake Natron and Oldonyo Lengai is at Lake Manyara. However, it is also possible to fly to Arusha or Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Book your cheap flight to Lake Natron and Oldoino Lengai with Tripindigo today and marvel at the lunar landscapes of this off-the-beaten-track region before hiking to the top of Oldoinyo Lengai.

Drive to Lake Lake Natron and Oldonyo Lengai

From Arusha it takes less than 2 hours to reach the turn off at Mto wa Mbu on a good tarmac road. From there the road to Lake Natron and Oldonyo Lengai takes you north and as the road is usually not in good condition it takes around 2,5 hours.

Best time to visit

The cool, dry months of spring from June to October and the hot and dry summer months of December to February are the best times to visit.

High season

This area doesn’t get many visitors, and it is possible to visit any time of year unless the road is impassable during the long rains. High season is mostly in the dry season when people want to climb to the top of Oldoinyo Lengai or to visit the breeding ground of the flamingos.

Low season

During the long rains the road to Lake Natron and Oldoinyo Lengai might become difficult to pass. This is usually the low season.

Best time to visit Lake Natron to see the breeding flamingos

Sometime between August and October the flamingos nest on Lake Natron and lay their eggs. The eggs usually hatch during December. The breeding is on the north-east near the hot springs.

At all other times of the year, you can still see flamingos near the southern shores usually, but not in the large numbers when they are breeding.


  • Lake Natron is so inaccessible that it was only discovered in 1954. It is now a Ramsar site and is internationally recognised as a Wetland of International Importance.
  • Oldoinyo Lengai is the only known active carbonatite volcano in the world, it was active as recently as 2007-2008 when it erupted and ashes were sent high into the sky.
  • People have flown paragliders in this part of the world. There are no facilities and you need to have all your own gear, but launch options are around.

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