“Take all Safari expectations and throw them out. The real Africa is much better.” – Unknown.
Why go to Lake Natron Region located within the Great East African Rift Valley, an area that is off-the-Safari-grid [not for long] when on Safari in Northern Tanzania? That was what I was trying to discover with my friend, expert guide Paul Oliver. I think I know why.
This place is for those who want to photograph stunning landscapes. The most obvious is the glorious volcanic mountain Ol Doinyo Lengai, the mountain of God for the Maasai tribe members. The deep ridges carved from erosion, the spewed lava that comes out every 10 years or so or the depth of vegetation all reflected differently from different angles. This live mountain is very mesmerizing.
Alkaline rich Lake Natron and it’s reflective surface, the many rock outcrops that dot the mirror-like lake, the white soda ash on the shores and the lovely reeds that create interest. The hills are alive with character. You have to see the many hills with mini peaks that are formed to release the gas from the belly of the Earth.
If you are into landscape photography with the occasional wildlife spotting, this is your place.
The area near our camp, Lake Natron Tented Lodge is about an hour walk to the caustic Lake Natron. You have to pass through surpisingly cool water springs [it was around 90F in February], muddy patches with lots of footprints to inspect from the large zebra to the little bird prints, and then the unique, crunchy dry soda from the salty lake.
There is also walking to a waterfall from the Engare Sero village which I missed seeing but heard from people staying at Lake Natron Tented Lodge that the trek was worth the cool dip.
This area is a the breeding ground for flamingos. Lake Natron is an alkaline lake with the right ph for the flamingoes to breed. I was expecting to see lots of flamingos but that was not the case as they had flown away further south to Lake Eyasi and east to Lake Magadi in Ngorongoro Region. You could hear them flying at night from my room. Non the less, getting so close to the flamingos by foot was quite special.
Then you have the large count of migratory birds coming all the way from Europe and even Alaska. Paul, who is a birder was clicking away. Wadders were skittish around us and Paul told me about bird netting and bird poaching. Birds are facing a huge problem in many European countries like Italy, Malta to countries like Jordan. Millions of these lovely birds are served as delicacy to satisfy humans.
Of course the local birds are every present. We had fun with the Spotted Morning-thrush hanging on the branches of the acacia tree. He and Paul had a good conversation about our lovely ‘Safari life’.
Historic footprints have been found here. They have calculated the age of these footprints and they are around 120,000 years old, the first modern straight standing man. This area is very close to Oldupai Gorge, where one of the first homo sapiens skull was found by the Leakey family.
I am going back to see these footprints on my return Safari to Lake Natron in 2016.
A Safari with Paul Oliver is in the works for May / June 2016. Come join us.
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