Natron Flamingo Ride
Lake Natron Lake Natron is a salt lake located in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border, in the eastern branch of the East African Rift. The lake is fed by the Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River and also by mineral-rich hot springs.It is quite shallow, less than three meters (10feet) deep, and varies in width depending on its water level, which changes due to high levels of evaporation, leaving concentrations of salt and other minerals, notably sodium carbonate (Natron).
The surrounding country is dry and receives irregular seasonal rainfall. The lake falls within the Lake Natron Basin Wetlands of International Importance Ramsar Site. Temperatures in the lake can reach 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit), and depending on rainfall, the alkalinity can reach almost as alkaline as ammonia .The high temperature and the high and very variable salt content of the lake do not support wildlife.
However it is an important habitat for flamingos and is home to endemic algae, invertebrates and round the margins even fish that can survive in the slightly less salty water. The lake is the only regular breeding area in East Africa for the 2.5 million Lesser Flamingoes, whose status of “near threatened” is a consequence of their dependence on the single breeding location. As salinity increases, so does the number of cyanobacteria and the lake can support more nests.
These flamingoes, the single large flock in East Africa, gather along saline lakes in the region, where they feed on Spirulina (blue – green algae. Lake Natron is a safe breeding location because its caustic environment is a barrier against predators trying to reach their nests on seasonally forming evaporates islands. Greater Flamingo also breeds on the mud flats. Even more amazing than the ability of the flamingoes to live in these conditions is the fact that two endemic fish species, the alkaline thrive in the waters at the edges of the hot spring inlets.
DAY 1: Arrive to Kilimanjaro International Airport
Upon arrival, you will be met by our representative and transferred by road for about thirty-five minutes to the lodge where the first night is spent.
For the early arrivals, settle into the new surroundings and meet the other participants on the safari. Sundowners and dinner at either at the lodge or if there’s a polo game on you go to the polo clubhouse for sundowners followed by dinner back at the lodge.
For the late arrivals, you will reach your lodge late in the evening and enjoy lite dinner before head to rest and relax for next day adventure.
DAY 2: Drive to the fly camp at N’garuka village
The following morning after a big English breakfast there is 4 ½ hours’ drive to the fly camp, north of N’garuka Village. Upon arrival the crews are waiting with welcome drinks and opened arms for everyone to join the safari team. After introduction to the tents, which are bell tents, lunch is served and a safari briefing takes place. After lunch each guest gets given his or her horse and an afternoon ride takes place for everyone to get comfortable in the saddle. The day ends around the bonfire.
Day 3: Ride Through Masai bomas
Everyone is woken up to some tea or coffee, thereafter breakfast is served. The day’s ride is scenic and cultural and we ride through Masai bomas and encounter herd’s men out grazing their cattle. Around midday we stop for a lunch break were we all have some refreshments under a nice shaded three. The lunch is either vehicle supported or you carry it in your saddlebags. Thereafter you continue and try to cover ground to reach our night stop before the sun hits the horizon.
Day 4: Ride to Northbound
Early wakeup call followed by an English breakfast before joining your mount. Directions are north bound for the day, with Gelai Mountain overlooking you from the East. The day’s ride leaves the Massai villages behind and enters the beautiful almost dreamlike scenery of the Natron region. If lucky the day’s ride will encounter big herds of zebras and wildebeest roaming the opened landscape. Lunch break is taken place out in the bush before taking directions for the night’s camp.
DAY 5: Ride around Oldonyo Lengai
Wakeup with coffee and tea before a bush breakfast is served. Thereafter everyone mounts his or her horses and the safari continues. Toda you will explore the areas around the only active volcano in Africa, Oldonyo L’Engai (Mountain of God). Late lunch back in camp with time for a siesta. The afternoon is for everyone to relax allowing riders and horses’ muscles to rest.
DAY 6: Ride towards the River bed
After an early breakfast at the camp this morning, you will have the longest and toughest ride ahead of you. You are covering about 60 km in close to 40 degrees Celsius temperature. With the volcano behind you, you enter a river bed that offers some shade and thereafter crossing the open landscape before arriving to the lunch break. You stop in the shades of some big acacias, near to a river bed to gain some more energy for the last stretch of the days ride. The night is spent close to the hot springs, overlooking the lake.
DAY 7: A walk towards the spring
After breakfast a 45 minutes’ walk takes place heading towards the springs which enters the soda lake on the eastern shores. After the exhausting heat and dust a rewarding dip adds to the enjoyment of the days adventures. Enjoy lunch in the springs and walk or drive back to camp. A late evening ride takes place, enjoying the cooler hours before darkness with good chances of seeing hyenas and jackals searching for food on the mud flats of the lake.
DAY 8: Departing Natron
Early morning departure, leaving the dry, desolate and hauntingly beautiful lake behind you, following the well know riverbed back to the lush, green grassland on the foot of Oldonyo L’Engai. The night is spent in a place now familiar to everyone.
DAY 9: Fly to Arusha, Depart
Everyone wakes up after a good night’s rest. A sad farewell is due to happen, and everyone has to say goodbye to the camp crew. It is time to pack your bags and for the last time on this journey, together with your mount ride to the airstrip, where a chartered plane is waiting to fly you all back to Arusha. Lunch will be served upon arrival to the lodge and showers available however if someone like to book day room before flying out, let us know in advanced.