Lake Natron. Tanzania
One of the most beautiful and at the same time terrifying places on the planet is located in northern Tanzania not far from the border with Kenya. It is a small lake with depth of less than three meters called Natron. The name is explained by a high content of such mineral as Natron. It makes the water so beautiful but at the same time very dangerous.
The fact is that when the evaporation of water results in a significant increase of the alkalinity of Natron, some species of bacteria – halophilic cyanobacteria – living in the lake are activated and their vital activity paints water into blood red color. Outside view of the lake can vary depending on the season. Natron surface can be covered with a crust of mineral salts brought along with volcanic ash from the Great Rift Valley.
Sometimes, lake looks quite normal. But when the temperature increases the bacteria secrete a red pigment coloring the lake. So while the bacteria are active, these lifeless landscapes reminiscent of the surreal alien scenery. In February and March, you can watch the unusual phenomenon. The concentration of sodium carbonate in the hottest months of the year is increased to such an extent that the water in the lake becomes viscous.
Only a few species that can survive in such conditions live in the lake. They include unique species of fish called «Alkaline Tilapia». In addition, it is home to rare small flamingos. It is of the few breeding sites for 2.5 million of these birds. The high temperature of the water in wetlands reaching 60° C allows flamingo hatching eggs at any time of the year. An unpleasant smell coming from the lake and the danger of water itself deters predators from attacking.
Depending on rains the alkalinity can reach the pH factor of 9 to 10.5 which is almost as alkaline as ammonia. This circumstance makes water of the lake deadly dangerous. Thus, the birds getting into the lake die immediately and their remains become covered with minerals and harden, turning into stone statues.
If you decide to visit this amazing place, be very careful. You can watch flocks of flamingos on the Lake Natron or climb to the coldest crater in the world called Ol Doinyo Lengai and arrange a safari on antelopes.