A chemical lake in the middle of the most beautiful natural landscape in Africa.
Is it possible? Yes, it is, if you are speaking of Magadi, one of the lakes of the volcanic land of African Rift. As the most famous Natron, in Tanzania, this Kenyan lake derives from volcanic activity and as water dries – during the hottest months – it only remains a 80% sodium carbonate layer all around. Despite this, the lake is a real paradise for many birds, including the wonderful pink flamingos. Come discover this incredible place on your next safari.
Magadi, lake of salt
Magadi has a surface of 100 sq km and is a alkaline lake set into a endorheic basin. Its water is full of salt, due to the saline hot springs that recharge the basin from time to time. But at the time the lake was born, millions years ago, it was not saline at all. It was the action of the volcanic faults around that changed it, in centuries. The lake has given the name to a rare hydrous sodium-silicate mineral – the Magadiite – discovered along its shores at the end of the 20th century.
Magic colours and animals of Lake Magadi
Lake Magadi has no emissary, so the water coming from the saline hot springs remains inside the basin and evaporates as soon as the dry season comes, and temperatures turn very hot. During this process, the algae of its seabed start a chemical reaction to the salt remaining and turn red or pink. This makes the lake appear pink when the water comes back filling it. This magical show is also the reason why the flamingo birds have that particular colour.
They usually eat those algae as they stop here, during their migration. It affects their DNA and has changed their colour in ages. But pink flamingos are not the only animals that can live there. You will see pelicans, too. And along its shores, your safari will take you into the habitat of zebras, giraffes, antelopes, hyenas. A few lions also live there with their families. Humans have found their way to live on Lake Magadi and take advantage from it by extracting salt.
The town of Magadi
On the eastern shore of the lake, there is the town of Magadi. This is the reference place for tourists who come on safaris over here, but this is also an industrial town. Magadi Town lives on the lake’s salt and its Soda Companies serve Africa and India in their needs of salt or sodium products. In Magadi live 980 people. Some tour operator are based here for starting their tours of the Rift. Two sport clubs and two lodges welcome tourists every year.
How to get to Lake Magadi
In order to get to Lake Magadi, take Magadi Road from Bomas Junction following the directions to Rongai. Go on for 3 more hours until you will meet Ol Tepesi Centre, Olorgesailie Prehistoric Museum, Esonorua and Kamukuru Shopping Centres.
Nairobi’s airport is the reference for those arriving from abroad.