Locally known as Lac Rose, Lake Retba is a shallow lagoon that is surrounded by dunes in Senegal. It is a coral pink lake that lies on the edge of the lush coastal region of the Cap Vert peninsula. Do you know that the lake has its own magic trick by way of its vibrant and extraordinary pink hues that colour its waters? The spectacle is attributable to the high salt content of the lake, a ratio that is 10 times as that of the ocean water. It is a sight with an absolute beauty you may fully enjoy when there’s a right amount of light.
Some Interesting Facts About Lake Retba
- The living condition of the lake caused by its high salt content is perfect for micro-algae dunaliella salina. This algae produces a red pigment that helps absorb light, providing energy and establishing ATP. This is the primary reason for the lake’s distinct pink colour. Note that the lake is conducive for swimming and harmless.
- It serves as the finish point of the Dakar Rally before moving to South America.
- Locals here extract salt from the lake using shea butter from the shea nut tree.
- Only a narrow dunes corridor separates the lake from the Atlantic Ocean.
The Lake’s Salinity
Apart from being a tourist haven in Senegal, the lake has continuously become a great source of income for the residents around the area. Its salt content rivals that of the notable Dead Sea that exceeds 40 percent salinity in some areas. Due to the economic crisis and droughts in the 1970s, locals in the surrounding area started to collect and market salt to supplement the income of their families. Men mainly work as harvesters as they fill their baskets with salt, heave them over their heads, and then into their boats.
As time passed, both men and women transport, dry, and trade salt. They actually export at least 70% of the mineral around West Africa, specifically to the Ivory Coast.
What to Do at the Lake
- As adventurous as you are, you may be able to swim all you can in this salty lake. All you need is to rub a significant amount of shea butter on your skin.
- It would be a better idea to cruise on a wooden canoe (locally known as pirogue) around the lake.
- Be thrilled as you get to see the contrasting sizes of its salt mountains just packed up by the shore.
- You can even see the golden sand dunes on the other part of the lake.
- Of course, its pink hue is best when you just want to sit and gaze upon its surreal view.
When to Visit
Visit the lake during the dry season, which is between the months of November and June, when its pink colour is visible. It is important to note that the lake’s pink hues is less visibile during the rainy months from July to August.
How to Get There
Lake Retba is nearly 40 kilometers from the northeastern part of Dakar. Use public transport from Dakar to the lake. You may hop on a car rapide, DDD bu 11, or minibus to Keur Massar. Ride on another bus, the bus 73, from here to the lake. Air travel is also possible onboard the Turkish Airlines.
It is also easy to get a private taxi right from Dakar directly to the lake. Like in Rome, where seeing the Pope is a must, experiencing Lake Retba should be on your list when you’re in Senegal. So, book your flight now so as to add some colour to your travelling soul.