Lake Retba, also called “Lac Rose” is a unique lake lying north of the Cap Vert Peninsula of Senegal, and northeast of Dakar. The content of its salt rivals that of the Dead Sea. This not only makes it a haven for salt industry but also increased human buoyancy. Salt collectors arrive here daily, covered in shea butter that protect their skin from brutal salinity, and spend several hours a day collecting this precious mineral from its lakebed.
Lake Retba water constantly changes color and this is quite striking. However, the most amazing pink shade normally appears during dry season. But during the short wet season and windy weather, the color of this lake isn’t strikingly pink because of rain that dilutes its salinity. Dunaliella salina, the salt-loving micro-organism, together with a high concentration of mineral, and the summer sun intensity, are the producers of Lake Retba cotton candy-colored water.
With salt levels reaching, and even exceeding 40 percent in some parts, this striking lake often take a more sinister hue, looking blood red, which may prove to be a less comforting location for your imagination to go if gazing out upon its surreal view.
Men used to fish here but by the 1970s, locals started to collect, and sell salt in order to supplement their family income because of droughts and economic hardships.
This Pink lake is some freak of nature, so to speak. It is an amazing pink gift to Senegal, and for many years has remained a popular tourist attraction and delight in this West African country. Lake Retba is just less than an hour drive from Dakar. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by some narrow dunes.
With its depth of 3 meters and size of 3 square kilometers, visitors find Lac Rose an amazing and exciting spot for not only an unforgettable adventure but also photo ops for memories.
Apart from its tourism potentials, it’s estimated that more than 1,000 people work around this lake on daily basis, harvesting each year some 24,000 tons of salt, which over 70 percent is exported around West Africa, particularly to Ivory Coast.
Adventurous tourists may swim in this salty lake, so long as they take necessary precautions by rubbing on their skin some generous quantity of shea butter.
Another good idea is a cruise on a wooden canoe (pirogue) around the lake.
Besides, tourists visiting Lake Retba for the first time are going to be certainly thrilled by contrasting sizes of salt mountains, packed up by the shore of the lake, plus the gold sand dunes found on the other side of this lake.
Did you know that…
The salt from this lake which is exported across the West African region is also used by fishermen to preserve their fish. This is an element of several traditional recipes, which include Senegal’s national dish ( a fish stew known as thieboudienne).
Visiting senegal without actually seeing Lake Retba, Senegal’s Pink lake can be compared to visiting Rome without seeing the Pope. You just feel you missed something on your tour. And you wouldn’t like to miss this amazing, beautiful experience, would you?
Photo via pinterest