Deadly Lake Natron

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It is an abnormality on our planet, this place known as Lake Natron and it plays host, acting as a graveyard for many dead animals which were unfortunate enough to wander through here. This salty lake resides in the northern part of Tanzania, not far from the Kenyan border. The Southern Ewaso Ng’iro river feeds the lake with its minerals and hot springs. This creates a mixture of deposits which is made up of salt. The lake is not very deep at 10 feet and varies in width depending on the level of water.


With temperatures reaching up to 140 degrees °F or 60 °C with the rainfall, the alkalinity of the lake will reach upwards of 10.5. This is almost the same as ammonia making it rather toxic. This makes this area not very good for any wildlife with the exception of a few species of fish, endemic algae and flamingo birds who can survive the slightly less salty portions of the lake area. Contrary to popular belief the lesser flamingo birds will not instantly turn to stone.

Some of the photographs seen are staged by photographers after sifting through corpses along the shore of the lake. This lake has gained the reputation of killing quite literally any creature which comes near the lake itself. During the breeding season, there are more than 2 million flamingos that come to Lake Natron each year. With the shallow shoreline, they use the small islands it to build their nests upon during the dry season. Lake Natron is one of two known alkaline lakes in the eastern part of Africa. Lake Bahi is the other. Both of these lakes do not drain into any river or sea.

Natron Feet

With the power of alkalinity in the water and the amount of sodium carbonate, this lake has mummified many animals. The Egyptians used this same method preserving the dead long ago. The water looks like a sea of blood from the distance.

Photographer Nick Brandt has captured a number of images of the lake and the dead animals who met their demise here. It is titled “Across the Ravaged Land” published in 2013.

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